Meander Valley Gazette

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Council back-flips on Beefeater St development

NewsJoanne EisemannComment
recycled-huts-in-westbury-Mike-moores.jpg

MAY 2018 | Sharon Webb

A DEVELOPER’S appeal to the state planning tribunal has caused Meander Valley Council to back-flip on its opposition to a Deloraine development using seven ex-Pontville detention huts as accommodation.

Even though council twice rejected the $400,000 Beefeater Street development, Meander Valley Council’s general manager, Martin Gill, said solicitors had advised council would lose developer Andrew Terry’s appeal to the Resource Management and Planning Appeals Tribunal.

The likely result would be that the council would be obliged to pay Mr Terry’s legal costs as well as its own.

Two councillors, Tanya King and Bob Richardson said the legal advice indicated they should follow council staff advice not to fight the case.

“Ratepayers would essentially be left to pick up the tab,” Cllr King said. “I felt the most responsible action for me was to support the officers’ recommendation.”

Now, Meander Valley Council is assisting Mr Terry with his development.

Mr Terry has assured the council and objectors that the development is for long-term residents, not fruit-pickers or backpackers as he originally proposed.

Council’s grounds for rejecting the project were because Beefeater St was unsafe for the estimated extra 63 vehicle movements a day.

So now it will upgrade the section of Beefeater St between Emu Bay Rd and Moriarty St. Mr Gill said he could not estimate the upgrade cost, to be included in council’s 2018/19 budget.

Council requires Mr Terry to pay around $10,000 to construct the kerb, channel and footpath across the total width of the property and widen its internal driveway, including a passing bay every 30m.

Mr Terry’s first 2017 development application to council was to place seven four-bedroom huts to house seasonal fruit pickers on the dogleg-shaped block at 46A Beefeater St, owned by his parents Geoffrey and Judy Terry.

It caused resident consternation, as did his second application, rejected by Meander Valley Council in January this year.

Residents wrote letters to council complaining of potential noise, invasion of privacy, loss of view, loss of surrounding property value and the development’s lack of suitability for location adjacent to elderly people’s units – none of which are valid grounds of complaint according to the planning scheme.

Initially, 10 residents also joined Meander Valley Council in the appeal.

Mr Terry confirmed the detention huts now would not be used by fruit pickers but as permanent accommodation. Their concerns alleviated, four residents dropped out leaving Gayl and Paul Mansell, Michael and Gina Sullivan, Pauline and David Cole, and Rodney and Lou-Ella Kershaw still opposing.

Gayl Mansell who lives in neighbouring units for elderly people, said: “We didn’t know until recently they would be for long-term rental,” she said. “Our objection is that they are not in keeping with the neighbourhood and will detract from the area; it would take a lot of money to make them look good.

“Jared Bryan from RMPAT said we must take Andrew Terry’s word for what he’s going to do but once these buildings are in place the horse has bolted. This development would be good – with decent units.”

Michael Sullivan of 48 Beefeater St said locals did not want the development because “it’s going to be huts just dropped there”, believing their property values could drop 20-30 per cent.

“It’s not the right location for what it is and there’s a big question mark over the definition of ‘primary residents’,” he said. “Andrew Terry has said they are not for fruit pickers and I hope he doesn’t go ahead with that plan.”

The owner of 46 Beefeater St, Rodney Kershaw, is disappointed in the planning scheme because appeal grounds were so limited that neighbours had no say. “There’s nothing we can do about the developer using recycled buildings – he’s taking advantage of the situation and it’s great for him but not for anyone else.”

But Andrew Terry said that the issue had been “blown out of proportion in a monumental way”.

Acknowledging his first planning application was causing confusion about the second, he complained of being “dragged through the wringer”.

“I have no intention of putting backpackers on the property. I know I’d have fines slapped on me if I did. “I’ve got this piece of land, I’m paying interest to the bank and I want to develop it with residential units no different from any other.

“There’s talk about a housing shortage and to be honest I think the town [Deloraine] needs it.”

Photo | Mike Moores