Disappointment at VCAT

Disappointment at VCAT
Rob Moore

The Parkville Association and 130 other residents who were among the 153 objectors were obviously disappointed with the decision by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) as reported in this month’s Inner City News.

VCAT decided to set aside the decision by the City of Melbourne to refuse a permit for the development of a dermatological clinic on the corner of Royal Parade and Morrah St in Parkville. 

Sadly, the hearing was conducted online over eight days, as a hearing at VCAT would have been more beneficial. Armed with eight individual objectors and the Parkville Association residents we thought we had presented a professional case supporting the original council decision. 

Focusing on the intensity of the development and the flow-on affecting traffic and parking on residential streets and maintaining the fabric of Parkville’s inner city village, we tried to demonstrate the affect a large commercial clinic would have on our quiet residential neighbourhood. 

Reading the reasons for granting the permit we clearly do not agree, however we have to accept the ruling. We presented correspondence from senior staff regarding NEIC (National Employment and Innovation Clusters) that clearly stated zoning and heritage overrides the NEIC zoning. 

Likewise, we presented the current biomedical zone plan which has Story St as the end of the zone. Royal Park is clearly within the NEIC so if followed literally watch out for factories in the middle of the park!

The adjoining neighbours are very disappointed as the new development will be a massive change to their current environment. Bearing in mind the former Trinity site was used for educational purposes and was non-commercial.

The use of the loading zone on Morrah St will impact Naughtons and even bicycle parking where the ruling states there are plenty of hoops to park bikes on Royal Parade will impact pub users.

I can sight many other instances, but we must not forget the rulings that are in our favour …

The retention of the facade on Royal Parade (a heritage-listed avenue) and for seven metres down Morrah St;

The reduction of practitioners from the original application of 18, which was reduced by the council to 12 to finally settle at 10; and 

The smaller footprint to basically the original site and the removal of the third floor to be substituted by a larger basement. 

Moving forward we need to ensure all residents’ parking areas remain as they are essential to residents, and that the green travel plan undertaken by the business is implemented and managed. This was a major thrust where patients will have to arrive by public transport following advice from the clinic verbally, via text and online. 

Sadly, their barrister concluded at VCAT that he could not understand the “vehemence” of Parkville residents against the development. Frankly we do know our suburb best, some of us have lived more than 50 years in the suburb and know the pain of parking and over use of our roads. We regard the area as our village in a suburb that this year turned 150 years old. 

To highlight the spirit of our village we held our Christmas in July on July 24. Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece popped in for a drink and a chat, giving us the opportunity to thank him for being in the trenches with us on the hearing. 

Our sponsors, Nelson Alexander, presented some door prizes and the evening was a great success! Thank you to all who joined in the fight – now we have to ensure the VCAT ruling is strictly adhered to! •

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