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