My constituency question today is for the Minister for Planning. Last week I met with residents of Ferntree Gully who are deeply concerned about a proposed aged-care facility to be built on St Elmo Avenue, a small no through road surrounded by nature reserves and wildlife. Glengollan propose a 12-metre-high, 108-bed building that will overshadow surrounding homes, cut down trees, add to existing traffic and parking issues and, frankly, make living in this high fire risk area even more unsafe. I would encourage the minister to visit the site himself. Knox City Council declined Glengollan’s planning proposal, and now Glengollan is taking the council to VCAT based on this government allowing aged-care corporations to build whatever they want. I ask: is it appropriate to have such a high-density 12-metre-high aged-care facility on a narrow residential no through street in a high fire risk zone?
Response received 21 December 2021 Hon Richard Wynne MP
Knox City Council is the responsible authority for planning permit applications under the Knox Planning Scheme. When assessing a planning permit application, the council must consider the objectives of state planning policy, the provisions of the planning scheme, local planning policies and all objections and submissions it receives.
The Victorian Government’s Plan Melbourne 2017–2050 commits to simplifying the approvals process for aged care accommodation to meet the demands of an ageing population to provide greater housing choice and diversity, and allow members of the community to ‘age in place’, close to their established social and family networks.
Clause 53.17 to all Victorian Planning Schemes aims to achieve this by facilitating the development of residential aged care housing that is well designed and appropriately located, and by balancing the increasing demands of an ageing population with the protection of neighbourhood amenity. Clause 53.17 protects the amenity of adjoining properties through the application of development requirements relating to setbacks, daylight, overlooking and overshadowing that are consistent with requirements for other forms of residential development.
As much of the site is in a bushfire-prone area, the relevant building standards will be applied if the project proceeds. I am advised the site is over 400 metres from the nearest Bushfire Management Overlay, which is applied to those locations assessed as high-risk bushfire-prone areas.
The permit applicant has applied to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to review the council’s decision to refuse the application. VCAT is an independent body designed to provide fair and efficient dispute resolution outcomes. VCAT will review the matter on its merits and objectors who wish to be party to the review may seek to be heard.