Archive:   Rozen: 4 Houses At Ashbourne

Last Updated  20/11/07



Rozen Supreme Court Decision (VCAT decision to approve overturned by Supreme Court)



VCAT Taken To The Supreme Court Over Approval Of 4 Houses At Ashbourne In A Drinking Water Catchment

(20/11/07 - P)  Western Water and now Macedon Ranges Council are to take VCAT on, on points of law  - with, we hear, some encouragement from Justin Madden, Minister for Planning

You may remember our earlier story on VCAT's 24 September decision to overturn a Council refusal of a 'job-lot' application for 4 houses at Ashbourne (VCAT ordered a permit to issue for 4 houses on some 70 hectares, in a Rural Conservation zone, just upstream of the Woodend reservoir).  To say a lot has happened since then is an understatement!


First, a correction.  MRRA's earlier story said that Western Water had objected to the application.  We were half right.  In something of a comedy of errors, Council referred the application to the wrong water authority: Goulburn Murray Water instead of Western (Southern) Water.  GMW did not object to the application, but requested conditions on any permit issued.  It seems it was not until the applicant had taken the matter to VCAT that Western Water - the relevant referral authority - heard about the application, and objected to the proposal.  Western Water and Council were both represented at the VCAT hearing which preceded VCAT's decision that a permit must be granted.


Western Water has now decided to challenge VCAT's decision in the Supreme Court, and asked Macedon Ranges Shire Council to come on board.  The matter came before last Wednesday night's General Purposes meeting, where Council dealt with a request by Western Water for Councilís support in the appeal (and got it - on a unanimous vote).  Whatís interesting are the comments of Ms. Veronica Schilling, Councilís Director of Sustainable Development, made in response to questions from Cr. Tom Gyorffy at the meeting.  Apparently, the Minister for Planning is upset with the VCAT decision and is driving the Supreme Court appeal.  The Department of Sustainability and Environment has been pushing Council to get on board.  Another comment attributed to the Minister was that water authorities are avoiding their responsibilities, and something about, shouldnít be approving permits with conditions, should be saying no.  


Click here to see the grounds Western Water is putting forward in support of its appeal.


MRRA Says: sweet it is.  The sound - the too rare sound - of a Minister, referral authority and Council saying drinking water catchments come first.  How long we have waited...  Well done, all round.  Can this level of concern about what's happening in water catchments become permanent?  Please?  Pretty please?



VCAT Approves "job Lot" of 4 houses in Drinking water catchment & Conservation Zone at Ashbourne

(29/10/07 - P)  Not only didn't State and Local policy stop it, VCAT 'shredded' the Minister's Guidelines for Open Water Catchments into the bargain

Where is Victoria going?  This application for 4 dwellings, in a Rural Conservation zone, in a drinking water catchment and just kilometres upstream of Woodend's Campaspe Reservoir, sets a horrid State-wide precedent.  Refused by Macedon Ranges Council, objected to by Western Water, supposedly a non-starter under State policy, and way out of step with the Minister's Interim Guidelines for Open Potable Catchments...yet VCAT approved it.  Why?


MRRA Says:


MRRA has always supported the principle of having a body to review local government planning decisions as insurance against incompetent or corrupt Council decision-making.  This decision flies so far in the face of reason, steps so far outside good practice, stretches so far to approve a job lot of 4 houses, we are left to conclude VCAT really has lost touch with the real world and no longer offers the type of insurance we seek. This is a dangerous and arrogant decision, for all Victorians. Is it time to shut VCAT down? 


Everyone and their dog knows Victoria (and a lot of other places) are almost out of water.  Wouldn't you think that VCAT of all places understood and would uphold the need to jealously guard and defend the well-being of that most precious of our natural resources - our drinking water catchments - against all comers?  


There shouldn't be any potential for a decision like this to even be made, and the irresponsible outcome reinforces and gives weight to MRRA's long-standing call for urgent action by the State government to protect Victoria's open drinking water catchments - these aren't the right places for the free-for-all development that's being approved, and it's time development was prohibited or the catchments brought into public ownership and closed to public access.  When it comes to a contest between public water supplies and individual interests, the public interest should win every time.  To Victoria's shame, it rarely does.


Click here to see VCAT's decision.