VCAT overturns Leopold development refusal

Leopold (Supplied)

Ash Bolt

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has overturned a council decision to refuse a development in Leopold, which would allow for close to 200 homes to be built in the growing town.

VCAT last week decided against the City of Greater Geelong’s opposition to the proposal to subdivide five properties on the western side of Ash Road, in the south of the town.

The decision will allow for the 12.9 hectares of land to be subdivided into 189 residential lots and an open space reserve with a new road network.

The developments applicants, including Ash Road Leopold Pty Ltd, applied to VCAT to have the development approved, claiming the city hadn’t made a decision within the required timeframe.

The city later opposed the development after the application was made “on the grounds that it is not generally in accordance with Development Plan Overlay – Schedule 33” according the VCAT documents.

Open space, drainage and traffic were the major issues with the proposal for the city.

One issue was the dimensions of a proposed park, which did not meet the size guidelines in the city’s open spaces strategy.

However VCAT members Claire Bennett and Shiran Wickramasinghe said the strategy was part of the planning scheme.

“We consider that [the park] will make a valuable contribution to the community and will positively contribute to the local network of open space providing a distinctive, attractive and easily accessed local park,” they said.

The members said they were satisfied with the 1.07 hectares of open space provided in the proposal, as well as the traffic infrastructure.

The development was one of two proposed for Ash Road, with councillors voting in September to get Planning Minister Richard Wynne to appoint an independent panel to consider public feedback on a separate development.

That development, on the eastern side of Ash Road, would rezone five properties from farming to residential land, to create 200 residential lots.

The city received 29 submissions on the proposal, with 13 against and nine for the development.

The key issues raised by proponents included the development altering Leopold’s character as a semi-rural area, traffic impacts and a lack of infrastructure to support the growth.