VCAT double rejection

Former restaurant Clover Cottage along Manuka Road. Picture: ON FILE 239886_03

By Corey Everitt

A controversial development in Berwick backed by Parklea and Casey Council has backfired, after minor discrepancies in the plan between both parties were taken to VCAT where the tribunal sided with neither and rejected both proposals, setting back the large residential development along Manuka Road.

The site in question is an 18.7h piece of land along the corner of Manuka Road and Allan Street in Berwick where Parklea wishes to develop a residential area containing an estimate upwards of 150 lots.

Recently the proposal has inspired criticism as the formerly Green Wedge Zone abutting Cardinia Creek Parklands was rezoned to residential in 2021, with Cardinia Catchment Landcare Group saying they were ‘disgusted’ from not being informed of the development.

The site also includes two assets with heritage overlay, former restaurant and garden Clover Cottage and Minard Villa which are off Manuka Road. There are also a number of protected trees through the site.

The site needs a specified ‘Development Plan’ (DP) of the entire area before any permit for construction can be granted. Parklea drafted and submitted their DP to the council where it was approved in May 2023.

However, the council in the preceding years had made changes to the DP, which Parklea claims were not made with their agreement. Parklea submitted an alternative version called the ‘October draft’ which they requested VCAT to approve as a variation to the council’s approved DP. The council submitted and sought approval for their amended ‘October draft’ called the ‘November draft’ containing their changes, rather than affirmation of the May 2023 plan.

The hearing was presided over by Member Susan Whitney and Deputy President Teresa Bisucci.

They outlined that the disagreement regarded the matters of the retaining of trees, the application of the DP according to the planning scheme, drainage, road upgrades, bushfire management, parking and sustainability requirements.

Referring to both the council’s November draft and Approved DP, the tribunal disagreed with both on every matter the council made submissions to. It also did not support Parklea’s October draft fully, only supporting it on matters of road upgrades, drainage, sustainability requirements and parking.

The predominant reasoning for disagreement was for not complying with the DPO24, the clause outlining the requirements of DPs in the Casey Planning Scheme.

“We find that no version of the development plan – the Approved DP, the October Draft or the November Draft – contains all of the information required by the DPO24,” the tribunal argued.

“Whilst we have found that the October Draft is a better response to the DPO24 than the Approved DP, it still does not meet all of the requirements of the DPO24.”

The tribunal overturned the Approved DP of May 2023, and with plans granted to replace it as none were ‘to our satisfaction’.