By Michael Giles

DEVOTEES of Monty Python can probably afford to have a bit of chuckle about a puzzling decision taken by the Bass Coast Shire Council last week at the insistence of Inverloch councillor Jordan Crugnale.
But we doubt the would-be developer of a six-unit accommodation project, in a Mixed Use Zone adjacent to the shops in Williams Street, Inverloch, is laughing after spending thousands of dollars on his design and more than a year working co-operatively with the shire’s planning department.
Moved Cr Crugnale, seconded Cr Drew, and by their vote in support of the motion, the rest of the councillors demanded [dramatic chord]… a shrubbery!
If you remember a particularly amusing segment in ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ you’ll know where this is going.
Arthur, and his coconut-clopping Knights of the Round Table, came across the Knights Who Say “Ni” but they weren’t allowed to pass until they completed a test which involved bringing them a shrubbery.
But it all became completely absurd when, upon completing that task, the Knights Who No Longer Say “Ni” wanted another shrubbery “to get the two-level effect with a little path running down the middle…”
Likewise, with the support of Cr Drew and her fellow councillors, Cr Crugnale last week decided unilaterally to wipe out one of the six units in the proposed development (which incidentally had been supported by the shire’s administration) and insist that the developer replace the missing unit with a landscaped area, including native shrubs.
In fact the development cannot go ahead, they said, until a landscape plan complete with a listing of approved botanical names, pathways, trees, shrubs, pot plants and ground covers (also with botanical names); has been lodged and endorsed by council.
These gardens must then be maintained by the developer.
There’s only one serious omission.
They didn’t run it by the applicant first.
Who knows? It might even make the whole project financially unviable.
Being in a Mixed Use Zone in the commercial part of Inverloch, though, the owner of the land could have developed 80 per cent of the site, right up to the footpath but he was only asking for a development which covered less than 50 per cent of the site.
The location at 18 Williams Street already has a unit and five cabins on it, so the use of the site is well established. Nothing much will change. In fact, as the report to council pointed out, it’s similar in style to the Reefs apartments nearby which rise to 8 metres.
The only reason why the application came to council at all is that the proposed two-storey units reach 7.2 metres (above the trigger point of 7 metres) and there were local objections.
But as the council found out at VCAT recently, in the case between IS Holdings Pty Ltd and the Bass Coast Shire Council, in relation to a four-unit development in Beilby Avenue, Inverloch (9.1 metres high), the shire is virtually powerless to stop developments up to the ResCode limit of 9m-10m – in a Residential Zone. And this is in a Mixed Use Zone.
The panel member also said that while coastal views are taken into account in decisions, there was no provision in any planning scheme conferring a right to a coastal view in perpetuity.
As should have happened with the Surf Parade Footpath delay, this ridiculous motion must be rescinded immediately and an apology sent to the applicant otherwise the next thing we’ll see from our ‘Knights Who Say Ni’ is an order to cut down the mightiest tree in the town with a herring!