Council rejects apartment application

Proposed view of the apartments.

Council’s Planning Committee has knocked back an application for a three-story apartment complex in Ocean Grove, which had drawn objections from local residents.

The proposal would have seen 23 apartments built in an established residential area on the north-east corner of The Avenue and Hodgson Street.

The application received 23 written objections, with concerns centred on the size and bulk of the proposed building, the impact on neighbourhood character, potential traffic and parking congestion, and the prospect of neighbouring properties being overlooked and overshadowed.

Residents had also expressed concern that the building could set a precedent for future developments in an area not traditionally known for high density living.

Efforts to reach a compromise had been unsuccessful, with a consultation meeting between the objectors and the applicant on 14 August failing to result in any changes to the application or any objections being withdrawn.

The Planning Committee made up of seven councillors and chaired by Cr Trent Sullivan, voted in favour of a recommendation moved by Cr Jim Mason and seconded by Mayor Stephanie Asher to reject the permit application.

The decision was made on several grounds, including that the scale and density of the proposed development was not appropriate given its location.

“Although this site is within the Ocean Grove Increased Housing Diversity Area, the size and density of this proposal is too much of a shift away from the traditional character of the neighbourhood,” Mayor Asher said.

“Neighbours’ concerns that they would be overshadowed and overlooked by this large building are well founded. An argument could be made that apartments are appropriate for this site, but a smaller scale development would seem a better fit and have less impact on surrounding properties.”

“We accept that slowing the outwards growth of our Bellarine towns means there’s a need for increased housing diversity within the existing boundaries, but the rate of change is important,” Councillor Mason said.

“This building is simply too much of a departure from the surrounding homes and would completely change the look and feel of the area.

“I believe the application is barely compliant and we should not be testing boundaries of regulation, especially during the consideration of our Distinctive Landscape.”

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