By Kirra Grimes

A CONTROVERSIAL subdivision at San Remo will go ahead after the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) overruled an earlier decision by Bass Coast Shire Council to refuse a planning permit.
Sean Brown successfully challenged Council’s decision at a VCAT hearing on December 4, 2019, securing a planning permit for land at 1 Mount Drive, San Remo, which allows the subdivision of land into two 472-square metre lots, under the General Residential Zone.
Against the recommendation from their own planning officers, Bass Coast Shire councillors resolved, at their April 2019 Ordinary Meeting, to issue Mr Brown a notice of refusal, on multiple grounds including that the lot shapes proposed (10.67 x 44.2 metres) were inconsistent with the pattern of subdivision for the area, and presented potential issues with the spacing of buildings, as well as with solar access and road congestion.
According to VCAT documents, Council argued the proposal was contrary to planning policies as the site was not within an area earmarked for urban consolidation as shown in the San Remo Structure Plan (an area within 10 minutes walking distance from the commercial centre of San Remo).
The application was also opposed by members of the community, with eight objections submitted during the advertising period.
VCAT ruled, however, in a decision handed down on December 13, that the proposed subdivision was “consistent with the purpose of the [general residential] zone,” which is to
encourage development that respects neighbourhood character, and to provide a diversity of housing types and growth, particularly for well-located sites offering good access to services and transport.
Mr Brown’s proposal was “well located in terms of proximity to the San Remo commercial centre” and was thus appropriate for the zone.
The proposed layout was also “acceptable,” VCAT member Christina Fong said, although she acknowledged that the pattern of subdivision was “not typical of the area”.
“There is merits in Council’s argument that the two narrow fronted lots will create two side-by-side dwellings, a pattern of subdivision and development that is not consistent with that of the area,” Ms Fong said.
The proposed layout, with both lots having an east-west orientation, was however consistent with “the prevalent orientation of lots in the area,” and a design and development overlay that affects the site (DDO1) which seeks to maximise views to and from the coast.
Ms Fong was also confident that lot widths of 10.67 metres could accommodate a double fronted house, “a feature that is consistent with development in the areas”.
Any house constructed would be subject to a future planning and/or building permit, where a range of amenity impact, car parking provision, and internal amenity for the dwelling would be assessed, Ms Fong said.
It was “premature” to draw any conclusions about impacts on solar access of future dwellings, based on the lot design alone, she said, adding that objectors’ concerns about the building envelope were the result of a “misunderstanding” of documents submitted by the applicant.
The road congestion argument didn’t hold up either, Ms Fong said.
“Objectors were concerned that residents of the subdivision would park in the street rather than the garages in the development. Their view is that congestion and on street issues have been the result of overdevelopment and subdivisions in the area,” she explained.
“In terms of traffic or parking problems resulting from the creation of one additional lot, I am not aware of any existing traffic or parking problems that suggest development has reached saturation point, and that no further residential development should be allowed.”