Most of you probably received the frustrating news in today’s mail that VCAT have passed the Planning Application for Nos 61 Kathryn and 72 Anne Roads, opposite the fish and chip shops. In doing so, Madam Chair took more notice of the “Expert Witnesses” provided by the developer, than expert local knowledge. Following the hearing we were very confident that either changes would be made to the application or it would be refused, so assured we were that we’d counted or ‘trumped” extremely well all the arguments presented by the expert witnesses in Traffic Management, Landscape Architecture and the arborist.
To me the process demonstrates two clear problems for objectors, firstly the VCAT process provides easy access for developers and makes it more difficult for objectors to present their arguments. Developers always have the last say and are provided with the option of trying to counter our arguments, as happened in this case, without an opportunity for objectors to counter their lies or mistruths. Secondly, unless the council backs the residents’ arguments it is very difficult to get a clear hearing in VCAT. In this case the council did not present an argument against the removal of the trees, nor did it see any traffic management or parking problems with this development. The council’s planning policies do not stand up to VCAT’s interpretation. They are so loosely written that any interpretation is enabled by VCAT. The Knox City Council’s Planning Policies and in particular, the Housing Policy, must be rewritten to make their intention very clear. Apparently Maroondah Council have excellent success in defending their decisions in VCAT, as their policies are far more tightly written.
I would have thought that this was one development we’d really influence. This decision nearly makes our year’s effort and much personal cost absolutely wasted. We wait now for the decision for No 40 Kathryn Road. The hearing at VCAT for No 32 Kathryn Road is on 20th May.
Thank you to everyone who joined the campaign to save Knoxfield. It seems our efforts have been in vain.