Inconvenient residential plan knocked back

Cardinia Shire Council has rejected a proposal for eight two-storey residential apartments in Officer.

By Bonny Burrows

Eight two-storey residential apartments, proposed for a commercially zoned site in Officer, have been rejected by Cardinia Shire Council.
Councillors refused a planning permit for the Timbertop Boulevard project at their 20 November general council meeting, arguing that under the Officer Precinct Structure Plan (OPSP), the proposed site was to be used as a neighbourhood convenience centre (NCC).
In pushing for a refusal, councillor Leticia Wilmot said the planned apartments did not achieve the purpose of a Commercial 1 Zone nor did they meet the requirements of the town’s precinct structure plan.
She said a 2012 application by the same developer to construct a small-scale supermarket and other retail and commercial businesses on the site did meet the requirements however “unfortunately, they decided not to precede with that development”.
“And since then, through a number of subdivisions, the size of the site has been reduced to a point that it probably won’t be a suitable size for a supermarket anymore,” Cr Wilmot said.
“But it would still be suitable for a variety of commercial uses such as shops, cafe¦ and small offices.”
Deputy Mayor Brett Owen said the council “couldn’t allow” the residential development to be approved.
“People have bought into Timbertop on the understanding there will be a small commercial precinct in this area and it’s really important that is upheld,” Cr Owen said.
Under the OPSP, a primary school, community centre and neighbourhood convenience centre – or small shopping complex – are to form a cluster recognised as a “community hub” in acknowledgement that the co-location of these facilities would provide a focal point for community activity and interaction.
Cr Owen said it was planned that Officer would be a “20-minute city” where people can walk to the shops and local amenities.
He argued that such residential development would hinder this goal, “so I totally support this refusal”.
However, he admitted it was “very unlikely” that a supermarket would be built in its intended space as per the original OPSP “for whatever reason the site has been reduced”.
“It’s very disappointing,” Cr Owen said.
The applicant did not return the Gazette’s requests for comment in time for publication.