Glencairn Avenue, Coburg, development

Ms  GARRETT (Brunswick) —  My adjournment matter  is  for the  Minister  for Planning. The action I seek  is for him to  meet urgently with the residents  of and adjacent to Glencairn Avenue in  Coburg regarding a recent  application that has been made to him by  Healthscope to  remove a  long-existing covenant on the area. By way of background, in March 2012 Healthscope made an application to the Moreland City Council for a planning permit to redevelop and expand John Fawkner Private Hospital. The scope  of the redevelopment was met with significant local opposition from residents,  who were already experiencing quite dramatic traffic and  parking  pressures and other  amenity issues in local  streets flowing over from staff of and visitors to the hospital. These concerns were reflected in the council’s rejection of the application in July 2012.

Additional issues  that  formed  the  basis  of  the residents’  calls  for  the rejection included the scale and bulk of the redevelopment, the loss of amenity, the heritage overlay of the area and the restrictive covenant.

Healthscope  appealed  the  council’s  decision  to  the   Victorian  Civil  and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT),  which rejected  the  appeal explicitly,  saying that granting a permit would result  in  the breach of the restrictive covenant. The covenant was placed on the land decades ago by Melrose Mailer, once owner of the  Glencairn  Estate,  in  order  to  ensure  uniformity  of  the  surrounding architecture for  the  benefit of the  whole  community. The covenant  has  been acknowledged in the Victorian heritage database and in the heritage overlay. The original Mailer House  is among  the 20  oldest houses  in the  state. While the issues of amenity and the  neighbourhood  were  of key concern to the residents, the central point in VCAT rejecting the proposal related to the covenant.

It therefore shocked local residents to learn that Healthscope was attempting to deal  with  this matter by approaching the minister. It believed the matter  had rightly been dealt with through the  appropriate channels, and  that Healthscope had not pursued further appeals post the VCAT decision.

Unfortunately residents of homes in the area have now received a notice from the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure about this request to the minister to  remove the covenant,  and  not surprisingly the  residents  are extremely concerned. They have participated in the formal processes as required, and they  have also  written in  great detail to the minister seeking an  urgent meeting to discuss the community’s viewpoints. They are yet to receive notice of a meeting or  other formal  response. I  note that  the council  has conveyed to residents that it does not support  the removal of the covenant. This view has also  been expressed  to the media.

The ongoing anxiety for the residents needs  to be put to bed. The impact  of an expansion of  the scale originally  proposed  in the area  is  unacceptable. The process through which the residents  fought and won in 2012 should be respected. The  residents urgently request  a meeting with  the  minister to express  these concerns and  give him  their point  or view  while he is  deliberating on  this application by the company.

Hansard 3 April 2014