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VCAT Decision Favours Laneway Development

Panos Nickas
Article by Panos Nickas

The Moonee Valley City Council’s refusal to grant a planning permit for a residential development on a small lot of less than 300 square metres appeared destined to consign our client’s vision to the scrap heap. The original permit application before Council related to the construction of a single dwelling with on-site car parking on a land-locked site in Ascot Vale.

The original permit application before Council related to the construction of a single dwelling with on-site car parking on a land-locked site in Ascot Vale.Having purchased the land, our client through its team of consultants prepared the planning application.

Having purchased the land, our client through its team of consultants prepared the planning application. However it became apparent that there would be a number of stumbling blocks. Notably, the only available entry point to the site was via a 100-metre long laneway that measured 3 metres wide and included whether our client enjoyed a legal right of carriageway. The latter was quickly dispensed with before the Tribunal.The Council primarily refused the permit application based on sole access to the property

The Council primarily refused the permit application based on sole access to the property being via a laneway, and also included concerns relating to the site’s integration with the street, safety, access for garbage trucks and also emergency services such as ambulances and fire trucks. Peripheral matters at the hearing related to postal service workers finding the mail box and if a pizza could be delivered to the site!Put simply, Best Hooper’s involvement was to prepare a strategy that would address the issues raised, which ultimately culminated in a satisfying win for our client.

Put simply, Best Hooper’s involvement was to prepare a strategy that would address the issues raised, which ultimately culminated in a satisfying win for our client.Part of the strategy was to boldly amend the proposal before VCAT by seeking permission to construct 2 dwellings (not 1) with no on-site car parking. The decision to omit

Part of the strategy was to boldly amend the proposal before VCAT by seeking permission to construct 2 dwellings (not 1) with no on-site car parking. The decision to omit parking was considered possible given the site’s location within minutes of a train station and bus services. We identified this as an opportunity and one that is consistent with environmentally sustainable practices by reducing the reliance on private vehicles. It also had support from the town planning expert we recommended.At the hearing, issues such as safety were addressed by our knowledge of relevant case law and by volunteering to upgrade lighting in the laneway to provide better visibility, security and safety for residents and visitors alike.

At the hearing, issues such as safety were addressed by our knowledge of relevant case law and by volunteering to upgrade lighting in the laneway to provide better visibility, security and safety for residents and visitors alike.

Likewise, on the question of emergency services, we were able to provide relevant case law on the matter, notably that such concerns were overstated and unsubstantiated and did not reflect a town planning issue in this case.The Tribunal ultimately determined that, amongst other things, both dwellings had an adequate sense of address and amenity, and commented that sole access via the laneway was satisfactory subject to permit conditions.

The Tribunal ultimately determined that, amongst other things, both dwellings had an adequate sense of address and amenity, and commented that sole access via the laneway was satisfactory subject to permit conditions.

With a Planning Permit now in hand, we consider the decision an excellent outcome for our client who we understand is looking forward to getting the development started!

View the tribunal’s decision here

Panos Nickas

Senior Associate
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