Feb 292012

Save our town from bad planning policies - we need you.

Let’s show the government and opposition we’re sick of current planning and arbitration policy that only benefits big developers’ profit margins.

An open invitation to hear us has been sent to Premier Ted Baillieu, Planning Minister Matthew Guy, local Members of Parliament, Hobson’s Bay Mayor, Councillors, and the press.

This may be our last chance to tell them these policies needs to favour the community first over developers and government.

So we need everyone available to come.

Bring as many family, friends, and neighbours to Armstrong Reserve (Wilkins St) Newport, Sunday 4th March at 4pm sharp.
The rally will only take a ½ hour, but being assembled at 4pm is critical.

 Posted by at 1:39 pm
Feb 222012

Issue raised by residents.

During the VCAT Directions Hearing on the 6th Feb. a representative for residents pointed out the inconsistent with the development cost estimates submitted by the Applicant (developer). The developer’s Planning Application submitted to Council in 2011 estimated the development cost as $9.5M. The developer’s Major Case List application submitted to VCAT Jan. 1012 estimated the development cost over $12M.

This is an important point because the VCAT Major Case List eligibility criteria for residential development starts at $10.0M, and the estimated development cost is usually based Planning Application submitted to Council.

VCAT order.

VCAT ordered the Applicant to explain the variation and provide an explanation for the increase in the estimate of the development cost.

Applicant’s (developer’s) response.

After 7 days the Applicant submitted to VCAT the following, a letter from a quantity surveyor confirming the applicants estimate.

Click here for their letter and cost estimates.

Our issue with applicant’s response.

The estimate is not an independent and sworn estimate by a quantity surveyor, only a quantity surveyor’s letter confirming the developers own estimates are ‘reasonable’. Nor does it explain the variance. Additionally, it provides a third estimate of $11.3M matching neither the Planning Application or Major Case List estimates.

Our letter to VCAT.

The Resident objectors request that the Applicant be required to comply with the Practice Note – PNPE8 as outlined below.

The practice note for the Major Cases List ‘PNPE8 – Major Cases List‘ defines the ‘estimated cost of development’ as:

“the estimated cost of the development for which the permit or permit amendment is required, but does not include items such as land value, contingency fees or holding costs, consultants’ or architects ‘fees, the value of any material to be extractedfrom the land as part of the use or development, development levies or contributions or other items not directly related to the cost of construction or carrying out of the proposed buildings or works or subdivision.”

“Informing its view about the estimated cost of the development, the Tribunal will generally use the monetary figure specified in the planning permit application. A permit applicant or permit holder may be required to submit proof of the cost of development (such as a sworn valuation from a quantity surveyor) at the practice day hearing to substantiate any difference between that stated in the planning permit application and that specified in the application to the Tribunal.”

I request that VCAT direct the Applicant to provide sworn evidence explaining the escalation in the estimated construction costs between the lodging of the planning permit with the Council and the filing of the Application with VCAT. In the absence of satisfactory evidence being provided, the Residents request that the Application be removed from the Major Cases List.

Click here for copy of our letter.

Why are we doing this?

The developer wants to be included on the VCAT Major Case List rather than the regular VCAT hearing list for the obvious benefits of an expedited hearing. But based on his Planning Application he does not meet the necessary Major Case List criteria. He should be held accountable to comply with the tribunal rules, and comply with tribunal orders. We do not think his case meets the VCAT Major Case List criteria and should not receive expedited treatment.

 Posted by at 6:38 pm
Feb 122012

Here are our notes on last Fridays VCAT Practice Day Hearing. This VCAT session is primarily for VCAT to understand the scope and magnitude of the developer’s application, and schedule future hearing days and time required for them.

Attending were the applicant (developers solicitor), Hobsons Bay Councils solicitor, and a representatives for the numerous objectors.


Observations of hearing (unofficial).

VCAT Practice Day Hearing 10th February 2012 at 11am
VCAT Reference Number: P27/2012
Regarding: 6 Paine Street Newport VIC 3015

Parties appearing:

Adeline Lane (Maddocks solicitors representing Hobsons Bay Council).
Sarah Don (Best Hooper solicitors representing the developer Peter Cahill).
Melissa Gojak (representing objecting residnets).

Also present:

Mark Tenner (Hobsons Bay Council Planner).

Darren Williams (representing residents).

Observers notes of hearing:

  1. VCAT confirmed receipt of all of the objections, en excess of 220 of them. Due to the large number of objectors: VCAT will write to all of the residents who lodged a Statement of Grounds advising them that unless specifically requested by the individual resident, VCAT, the Council and the Applicant will only be writing to the nominated resident representatives. These representatives will communicate with the residents.
  2. The Applicant stated it was willing to undertake Mediation, the Council, residents and VCAT did not see much could be achieved the scheduled Mediation session. VCAT decided to vacate the Mediation date and we will proceed to Hearing commencing on 11 April 2012, not 10 April 2012 as originally advised by VCAT.
  3. The Applicant is intending to call 5 witnesses and expects to take 1-2 days. The Council is only intending to call 1 witness (an Architect) and expects to take 1 day. Residents estimated ½ a day and there will be a site visit – therefore the Hearing is expected to take a total of 4 Hearing days plus the Member’s site inspection.
  4. Resident’s representative raised the issue of the discrepancy between the value of the development in the application to Council and that in the application to VCAT. In the application to Council the development was estimated at $9.5M. The VCAT Major Case List is for applications over $10M. In the application to VCAT Major Case List the estimate had inexplicably risen to over $12M. The VCAT Member has ordered that the developer provide an explanation and supporting figures within 7 days.

What’s next:

All parties are to prepare their cases for the hearing.

Residents will soon be contacted about the case being developed on their behalf.

 Posted by at 10:18 am
Feb 012012

100 Statement of Grounds forms were sent to VCAT today and served on Council and the developer’s Solicitor (Best Hooper). These were the SoG left in neighbourhood drop-boxes over the last week.

Additionally, many residents have been individually submitting their SoG to VCAT and serving on the other parties.

A second stack of collected SoG is getting larger and will be transmitted with any remaining before the deadline of the 6th.

There were originally 260 objectors and many new people becoming aware of this issue, so ideally we should be getting that sort of number of SoG submissions into VCAT.

If you have dropped off or sent your SoG already – WELL DONE!

…..if you are yet to get it done, please do before the deadline. And if you need help, just email for assistance.

 Posted by at 6:14 pm