By Rowan Forster
The proprietor of a 41-bedroom male only boarding house in Pakenham’s CBD has withdrawn from a hearing before the state’s planning umpire to contest a refused planning permit.
Marjo Pty Ltd was slated to fight Cardinia Shire in VCAT on 19 September, but the company decided to pull the pin on the proposal in the final days before the case.
More than 160 ratepayers who submitted letters of objection against the Savage Street development will likely be celebrating the back-down.
The controversial application came before councillors in January, 2018 – voted down due to crime and safety concerns.
Nearby resident Miles Dugdale hopes the proponent will consider pursuing a different type of business – one that will not affect the surround amenities.
“Things like childcare and medical centres are in constant need with this rapid population growth,” he said.
“That’s not to say I’m against boarding houses either – they’re necessary too – but this lot (on Savage Street) isn’t the right place for one.
“It should be somewhere out of the way where those staying won’t have negative temptations nearby – like the Maryknoll facility.”
It would have been the company’s second boarding facility, already operating one in Dunbarton Drive, Pakenham.
Youth worker Matt Simms fears the outcome could set a dangerous precedent for the establishment of boarding properties across the shire.
He described it as a vital facility, especially considering the rate of homelessness across the municipality and the wider Melbourne area.
“If every neighbourhood reacts with outrage towards these places, where are they supposed to go,” he said.
“They need affordable options such as these.”
“You can’t just dump them in the middle of the wilderness.
“They deserve to be able to live where everybody else is able to and have access to the services they may require.”
Henk Heeremansm, of Henty Street, was sceptical about the motivations of Marjo Pty Ltd.
“Will Marjo simply redraft another plan with a few alterations and resubmit to council and bypass our nine speakers at VCAT and the 160 letters to council?”
“We understand this has happened before.”
Cardinia Shire is not yet aware of the company’s intentions for the property.