Mitcham Towers – a major M2030 development proposal finally bites the dust!
For 5 years, Melbourne residents have been highlighting flaws with the Melbourne 2030 policy . The Mitcham Towers saga in particular was featured on all television channels; in local, state and national newspapers; and discussed countless times on radio.
But VCAT used the M2030 policy to justify approval for the project. Although the site was not in an activity centre with an approved structure plan, VCAT treated it as such because of its proximity to local shops and a railway station.
VCAT not only overrode a Council decision soundly based on existing local policy, but also created and imposed its own policy! At the time, former VCAT President Stuart Morris and ex-Planning Minister Rob Hulls stated to the media that the decision was not based on M2030, yet M2030 and its activity centre policies were repeatedly cited in the decision.
Now, three years on from that contentious approval, the saga has finally finished with the developer cancelling an appeal at VCAT that sought to extend the original permit.
However, the Mitcham community has still been left with a moon-scaped development site surrounded by temporary fencing. Clearly the proposed towers were not a financial proposition – market forces have exposed the flaws of relying on M2030 as a strategic planning tool to facilitate higher density development of appropriate size in suitable locations.
One can only imagine the true financial and emotional cost of this wasted exercise.
Mitcham Towers – timeline
Sept’03 – Initial Application for 14 storey development. Over 300 objections
Feb’04 – Developer appeals to VCAT because Whitehorse Council failed to decide the application within 60 days
Mar’04 – Whitehorse Council decides that if it still had jurisdiction, it would reject the 14 storey development application
May’04 – Developer amends proposal to two towers of 11 & 17 storeys. Over 900 objections lodged
June’04 – Whitehorse Council rejects 11 & 17 storey development application
Sept’04 – VCAT approves the development after July hearing
May’05 – Matter referred to Supreme Court
Aug’05 – Supreme Court supports legal aspects of VCAT decision
Mar’06 – Mitcham Towers site ‘on the market’. Over the next 12 months, Aldi and Woolworths Supermarkets evaluate and reject the site, which remains barren
Aug’07 – Whitehorse Council rejects the developer’s request for an extension of time for the permit.
Sept’07 – The developer (Golden Ridge Investments P/L) lodges VCAT appeal seeking permit extension but then withdraws the appeal prior to the hearing that was scheduled for late January 2008.