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VICTORIAN CIVIL AND ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL

administrative DIVISION

planning and environment LIST


vcat reference No. P808/2015

Permit Application no.TPA/43339








CATCHWORDS





Section 77 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987. Monash Planning Scheme. General Residential Zone Schedule 2. Student housing. Dwelling entry. Internal amenity.




APPLICANT

Geoff Kong

RESPONSIBLE AUTHORITY

Monash City Council

Respondents

Kaye Ng, Angela Ho

SUBJECT LAND

16 Lillian Street, Clayton

WHERE HELD

Melbourne

BEFORE

Cindy Wilson, Member

HEARING TYPE

Hearing

DATE OF HEARING

30 September 2015

DATE OF ORDER

10 November 2015

CITATION



Order


  1. Pursuant to section 127 and clause 64 of Schedule 1 of the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal Act 1998, the permit application is amended by substituting for the permit application plans, the following plans filed with the Tribunal:

    • Prepared by:

    Melbourne Architects

    • Drawing numbers:

    TP00 to TP04 (inclusive) Revision D

    • Dated:

    24 March 2015



  2. The decision of the Responsible Authority is affirmed.

  3. In permit application TPA/43339, no permit is granted.





Cindy Wilson

Member






APPEARANCES


For Applicant

Mr Gerard Gilfedder, town planner of Sweett (Australia) Pty Ltd

For Responsible Authority

Ms Kate Kennedy, solicitor of Maddocks Lawyers

For Angela Ho

For Kaye Ng



Mr Chris Lewis

Ms Ng was present at the hearing but did not wish to make an oral submission.


INFORMATION


Description of Proposal

Construction of three two storey buildings containing 28 dwellings to be used for student accommodation.

Nature of Proceeding

Application under Section 77 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 – to review the refusal to grant a permit.

Zone and Overlays

General Residential Zone, Schedule 2

No Overlays



Permit Requirements

Clause 32.08-1 – A permit is required to use the land for a residential building in the General Residential Zone.

Clause 32.08-5 – A permit is required to construct a residential building in the General Residential Zone.

Clause 52.06-5A – Car parking must be provided to the satisfaction of the Responsible Authority.


Relevant Scheme, policies and provisions

Clauses 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 18, 21, 22.01, 22.04. 22.05 and 22.10 of the State and Local Planning Policy Framework.

Clauses 32.08, 52.06, 52.34, 55 and 65.



Land Description

The review site is located on the south side of Lillian Street, Clayton approximately 46 metres west of Madeleine Road. The land has a frontage of 15.24 metres, an angled rear boundary of 18.62 metres and a site area of 1277 square metres. A single storey dwelling currently exists on the land and there is a gentle slope from the frontage down to the rear boundary.

The surrounding land is residential comprising a mix of single dwellings and multi unit developments, both single and double storey.



Clayton activity centre and railway station is approximately 400 metres to the south east and Monash University is just over a kilometre to the north east.

Tribunal Inspection

An inspection of the site and surrounds was undertaken on 2 November 2015.

REASONS1


  1. A proposal for 28 student accommodation units in three double storey buildings at 16 Lillian Street, Clayton has been refused by Monash City Council. The applicant seeks a review of that decision.

  2. Council submits the proposal is a poor response to neighbourhood character, will have an adverse impact on the amenity of adjoining properties and fails to provide adequate internal amenity for future occupants. It is Council’s view that amended plans2 that increase the front setback, provide a single storey presentation to the street, reduce the number of buildings from 3 to 4 and introduce a communal area fail to address the reasons for refusal of the original plans.

  3. Respondent objectors3 support the Council decision and raise concerns about inadequate parking, adverse impact on neighbourhood character, lack of landscaping opportunity, impacts on amenity and excessive distance from Monash University for student use.

  4. The applicant refutes the grounds raised by other parties and submits that the proposal achieves an appropriate response to neighbourhood character, will result in adequate landscaping, provide for appropriate amenity outcomes and is in a location that is ideal for student accommodation.

  5. The Tribunal must decide if a permit should be granted and if so, what conditions should be imposed. Having considered the proposal, the applicable provisions of the Monash Planning Scheme and the submissions and having inspected the site and surrounds, I consider a permit should not be granted.

  6. Although there are some positive aspects of the proposal, I find the layout provides an inadequate entry and unacceptable internal amenity for future residents. I consider these matters cannot be addressed by permit conditions and warrant refusal of the application. I address these matters first and then provide brief findings on other issues. Before setting out my findings I provide a description of the relevant planning and physical context that informs my decision.

Context


  1. The review site is zoned General Residential Schedule 2. In that zone a permit is required for the use of land for student accommodation which falls within the definition of a Residential Building. A permit is also required for development of a residential building in the Zone and the requirements of Clause 55 must be met. The purpose of the zone includes encouragement for development that respects neighbourhood character, provides for a diversity of housing types and moderate housing growth in locations offering good access to services and transport.

  2. There are a number of relevant policies at State and local level. These include promotion of housing diversity in locations that cater for different households and are close to activity centres, employment, transport and services4. Plan Melbourne is referred to in the Planning Scheme and identifies the review site as within the Monash National Employment Cluster. This as an area where planning is to facilitate further employment growth, diversification of uses and provide housing.

  3. The Monash Housing Strategy5 also refers to the Monash National Employment Strategy and includes the land in an area where housing change and diversification is sought. Amendment C125 to the Planning Scheme proposes to amend residential zones in the municipality and concluded public exhibition in August 2015. Under this amendment the review site and surrounds are proposed to be included in a General Residential Zone Schedule 6 (Monash National Employment Cluster and Clayton Activity Centre - Housing Diversity Area) where major redevelopment is anticipated. This amendment can only be considered as current thinking on the future for this area given it has not been reviewed by an independent panel, adopted by Council or approved by the Minister for Planning and its final form is unknown.

  4. The Municipal Strategic Statement specifically identifies a demand for quality student accommodation and encourages the provision of such housing in preferred locations with proximity to education facilities, activity centres and to public transport. A local policy that guides the location and design of student accommodation is at Clause 22.10 of the Planning Scheme and includes performance measures on preferred location, neighbourhood character, open space, car and bicycle parking, amenities and landscaping.

  5. Other relevant policy includes a strong emphasis on new development respecting neighbourhood character and responding to the garden city character sought for the municipality6. The review site is located within a Character B precinct where the policy seeks a desired future character where the area retains its modest and unassuming character achieved through appropriate scale, siting, low front fences and garden settings.

  6. A residential building must meet the objectives of Clause 55 that seeks development which is an appropriate response to neighbourhood character and site context, achieves reasonable standards of amenity for existing and future residents. Car and bicycle parking must be provided in accordance with Planning Scheme requirements.

  7. Turning now to the physical context, the review site is located in close proximity to the Clayton activity centre that includes a railway station and three bus routes (approximately 400 metres to the railway station), some 1.13 kilometres to Monash University and about 200 metres from the Monash Medical Centre.

  8. The site is relatively large at 1277 square metres with a gentle slope. It currently contains a single dwelling and is enclosed by a high front fence. Surrounding land is residential with immediate interfaces to 12 properties that are occupied by a mix of single houses and multi dwelling development both single and double storey. The streetscape of Lillian Street is varied including single dwellings and medium density development. There are both high and low fencing evident and with a few exceptions front gardens are not well planted.

  9. The broad context I have provided in the preceding sections must guide my decision. Whilst I find considerable support for the proposal having regard to this context, in balancing the positive aspects of the proposal against what I consider are two key failings of the design, I cannot support the application. I set out the failings next followed by a summary of elements that are acceptable.

Dwelling entry


  1. The applicant submitted that each building is provided with an individual identity, with direct access from the street or the common property areas which could be enhanced with signage if required.

  2. Council criticised the provision for dwelling entry submitting the layout does not promote a sense of safety and security.

  3. Objectives in Clause 55 of the Planning Scheme aim to ensure the layout of development provides for the safety and security of residents and property and affords the residential building with a sense of identity. I find the development fails to respond appropriately to those objectives for the following reasons.

  4. There is no separate pedestrian entry to the site and, other than the two front ground floor dwellings, all occupants and visitors will need to open the roller door/grill indicated at the front of the vehicle access to the car park and walk through the central vehicle accessway. I think this layout provides no sense of identity to the residential building, results in an unclear pedestrian entry and allows no transitional space around the entry. The proposed use as student accommodation is one where pedestrian access to the site is likely to be high and this is an unacceptable outcome that fails to meet the objective of Clause 55.05-2.

  5. I have examined the potential for an alternative layout that would address this matter. However opportunity to create a separate pedestrian entry is not possible with the design as proposed as the combined parking spaces and vehicle access covers the entire width of the site. It may be acceptable to allow pedestrians to make use of the vehicle access but there needs to be a clear sense of pedestrian entry to the development that is identifiable and visible to the street and provides a transitional space.

  6. Pedestrian entry to the six upper level dwellings of the front building (Block A) is via an external staircase at the rear of that building. The lack of shelter to the stair does not accord with the dwelling entry standard that seeks shelter for dwelling entry and the absence of a door to enclose the entry to the shared hallway is not ideal.

Internal amenity


  1. The applicant submitted the proposal provides an appropriate standard of internal amenity achieving compliance with local policy with unit floor area exceeding minimum size, inclusion of separate sleeping area, study area, bathroom and kitchen, acceptable access to daylight and shared use of communal open space.

  2. Despite compliance with aspects of the Student Accommodation policy, I have concerns about the amenity provided for future residents for the following reasons.

  3. The habitable room windows of upper level dwellings facing side and rear boundaries are screened with fixed obscure glazing to 1.7 metres above floor levels. This arrangement limits overlooking to adjoining properties but results in limited outlook and daylight for 16 habitable room windows of which 10 are living rooms and results in four dwellings with no unscreened windows. I find this outcome provides poor amenity for occupants.

  4. Bedroom windows of the two ground floor dwellings in Block A face the car park which is roofed by the floor above. This results in limited light, poor outlook and potential noise impacts.

  5. Pedestrian access to the two rear buildings would occur via pathways that extend down each side of both buildings. This provides ready access and with signage could be made identifiable. However those pathways pass in close proximity to the living and bedroom windows of 10 ground floor dwellings that is unsatisfactory for the amenity of occupants of those dwellings from a privacy point of view.

  6. I accept that the concerns regarding excessive screening and privacy impacts could be reduced by a redesign that could include landscaping at ground level, living room windows oriented internally with side screen treatment and use of screening that allows for outlook but limits overlooking. I consider it inappropriate however, to require a redesign by permit condition since there could be implications for built form and overlooking that should be the subject of further notice.

  7. There is no provision for individual or communal laundry facility indicated nor are there any external storage areas. Waste storage is shown in an enclosed bin area adjacent to the frontage in a manner that will not contribute positively to the streetscape appearance of the development.

  8. Although the communal open space proposed meets the amount sought in local policy I am concerned about the absence of secluded private open space for any dwellings, noting that Clause 55.05-4 of the Planning Scheme seeks such provision and local policy for student accommodation encourages individual private open space in addition to the communal open space requirement.

  9. I acknowledge Council’s criticism regarding solar access to the communal open space. I would not reject the proposal for this reason. Although the two communal spaces are located on the south side of buildings, the generous dimensions of the spaces and the aspect to both east and west will ensure adequate solar access that provides amenity and useability.

Other matters


  1. I acknowledge the positive aspects of the proposal many of which were well put by the applicant and agree that these must be considered in making a decision. However in balancing the wide range of factors that must be considered I find the failure of the design response to provide acceptable dwelling entry and internal amenity is determinative and justifies refusal of the proposal. These are matters that cannot be addressed without significant implications for the layout and consequential potential impacts on third parties...

  2. Given these findings I make only brief comment on other matters as follows.

  3. The location of the site is suitable for student accommodation given its proximity to the Clayton activity centre, railway station, bus services, Monash medical centre and importantly to Monash University. This proximity means the site satisfies all the criteria set in local policy for a ‘preferred location’ and I do not share respondent concerns about it being unsuitable for the proposed use due to distance from the university.

  4. The provision of student accommodation in this location is supported by State and local planning policy and the purpose of the General Residential Zone that seek a diversity of housing types in locations with good access to services and transport. The inclusion of the review site within the Monash National Employment Cluster under Plan Melbourne, referred to in the Monash Housing Strategy and under proposed changes to zoning under Amendment C125 supports a development that provides increased growth and housing change in this location.

  5. The front setback, the recessed upper level to the front elevation and the limited area devoted to vehicle access, the removal of the high front fence and the opportunity for landscaping is an appropriate response to the street context, meet relevant objectives of Clause 55 of the Planning Scheme and the desired future character sought for the area under local policy.

  6. Although the development extends deep into this long site, the separation of the three buildings, the incorporation of upper levels that are recessed from the level below, the setbacks from side and rear boundaries and the traditional architectural style is a design response that is respectful of adjoining properties. I am satisfied that unreasonable visual bulk and overshadowing are avoided and there is opportunity for landscaping that will contribute to the garden city character sought for the area under local policy.

  7. I am satisfied that the car parking provided, that meets the rates sought in local policy, will meet expected demand, that additional traffic generated can be accommodated in the nearby street system and there is opportunity for additional bicycle parking to meet the rate sought in the Scheme.

Conclusion


  1. For the reasons explained above, the decision of Council is affirmed. No permit is to issue.




Cindy Wilson

Member










1 I have considered the submissions of the parties that appeared, all the exhibits tendered by the parties, and all the statements of grounds filed. 1 do not recite or refer to all of the contents of those documents in these reasons.

2 Amended plans were circulated prior to the hearing. No objection was raised by any party to the substitution of these plans for those originally lodged by Council. These plans were substituted by the Tribunal.

3 Two statements of grounds were received by the Tribunal advising that they wished their Statement of Grounds to be considered but would not be attending the hearing. Pursuant to Clause 56(6) of Schedule 1 to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Act 1999 they are not a party.

4 Including at Clauses 11.04-2, 16.01-2, 21.04,

5 Final report dated 28 October 2014.

6 Including at 15.01-5, 16.01-4, 21.02-2, 21.03-5, 21.04, 22.01, 22.05 and 22.10.




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