Archive:   Units

Last Updated  13/4/15















Application For 29 Dwellings (yes, 29) On 7,000 Sqm  In Calthorpe Street, Gisborne

(23/12/16 - P)  'Over-development' and 'out-of-character' have just reached new heights 

See also 22 Calthorpe Street file

Planning application PLN/2015/412 has been made (on behalf of the Robinson Family Trust) for 10 townhouses, 1 single story dwelling and 18 apartments.  One street tree in Fisher Street is also to be removed.  The site is just under 7,000 square metres and currently vacant, and comprises four titles located at the south-east corner of Calthorpe and Fisher Streets in Gisborne.  The Gisborne Main Drain (aka Bunjil Creek) forms the eastern boundary of the site.


A previous permit was granted in 2006, but was not acted on and expired (the developer's planning report at page 2 says 14 dwellings were approved in 2006; local residents say the approved development was reduced to 13 dwellings).  The planning report for the application claims the main difference between the 2006 proposal, and the current one, is the inclusion of a "modest" apartment style development in the centre of the site instead of townhouses / dwellings.  That "modest" apartment block is three floors and 18 apartments, including underground car park, and a lift.


The design and planning team of Bill Jacobs Pty Ltd (Keilor Park), and G2 planners (Gattini) at Moonee Ponds that are associated with this application also gave Gisborne the Nexus Call Centre.  Bill Jacobs Pty Ltd has also been associated with other developments including the Helensville townhouse/unit development (at the Howey Street corner 'gateway' with Melbourne Road),  and the very large supermarket proposal at Riddells Creek.  All of these attracted strong community resistance, and objections to over-development, poor design characteristics, and lack of compatibility with rural town character.


Although the Macedon Ranges planning scheme supports a diversity of housing types for the 22 Calthorpe Street site and parts of the broader area around it, DDO17 (Design and Development Overlay, Schedule 17) is applied to the site and requires all development to (amongst other things):


"Protect and enhance the established semi-rural and village character of the residential area surrounding Gisborne Township"
"Ensure that new development has proper regard for established streetscape and development patterns in terms of building design, height, form, scale, siting and fencing" and
"Ensure new development respects its natural and built environment and does not dominate the landscape."


There's medium density appropriate to Gisborne, then there's the proposal at 22 Calthorpe Street.


The development proposal


aerial 22 calthorpe streetdesign response 22 calthorpe

The aerial view shown (above left) shows existing development surrounding the site is relatively low density, with ample garden and grass space around dwellings.  Photo source:  Site Analysis and Context page 3  Top is north.


The design response shown (above right) shows that the proposed development is basically wall-to-wall dwellings around two boundaries, with a large apartment block in the middle, and these separated by an internal concrete driveway.  Only the mandatory green-coloured creek/drain buffer area suggests a "green" space.  Photo source: Drawing TP01 Site description and design response  Top is north.


Here are some issues that have been identified to raise in a submission:

Development proposed along the site's southern boundary  Note:  the fence in this drawing seems to be shown on the wrong (i.e. northern) side of the dwellings, when it is to the south (i.e. along the southern boundary).

Cut and fill plan

Although the formal notice period for making submissions has now passed, submissions/objections can be made up until the time council makes a decision (likely next year). 


There are some 28 documents associated with this application.  Go to Council's website to inspect or download them:  type 'Calthorpe' at "street", and 'Gisborne' at "suburb" and click "Search".


MRRA Says:

Some understandably horrified local residents alerted MRRA to this awful proposal: development so jammed in it can't be done without putting one of the dwellings IN the floodplain, knocking off a street tree, short-changing character and existing residents on setbacks, moving tons of dirt, producing "walls" of two-storey development and creating a concrete-dominated environment.  


 Not good enough - never was, and never will be.  This is truly damaging development, and is what greed, and suburban, look like.  It's time the community pushed back against this substandard type of development that so many of us hate so much.  If you can find a moment to pen a short objection, would be fantastic!   Make sure you send a copy of submissions to all councillors, as well as lodging submissions with council. 





Another Brick In The Suburban Wall As Gisborne Gets 10 Dwellings To The Acre In Quiet, Rural Stephens St

(14/10/08 - P)  If it's OK by ResCode, it's OK by us, say VCAT

Another example of how Melbourne's metro standards don't work in Macedon Ranges as a very distinctive rural character is tossed out the window by yet another 'rubber stamp' VCAT approval of metro-style development.  More than that, VCAT demolishes the Gisborne ODP.

Click here to see the decision.



Suburbia Strikes Again In Gisborne - Application For More You-Beaut Units Out In Woop-Woop

(30/9/06 - P)  A plea for support from Gisborne residents as the planning battle lines are drawn up again

Here's the message MRRA received: 


Have you heard about the proposed subdivision of 48 and 50 Stephen Street Gisborne?  At present there are two houses; 8 units are proposed.  Also, the block next door (number 52) which is an acre with a small weatherboard house on it, was sold nearly two years ago and bought, apparently, by a 'syndicate' for the purposes of development.


Not only is the current proposal out of synch with surrounding property sizes, if approved it would set a precedent for the adjoining block to be carved up into maybe as many as 12 units. These properties back on to Fisher Street, Turanga Road and Howey Street.


Details: MRSC Planning Application No. P206 0325: 7 dwellings and 8 lot subdivision; applicant is Geoff Caddick; application received 16 July 2006 (source: Council's Green Light website, page 51 of 79)


MRRA Says:

If you contact us ( we will put you in touch with the group of residents who are alarmed by and preparing to take action against this application.





VCAT Says NO To 3 Two-Storey Units In Kyneton

(29/5/07 - P)   Why?  It doesn't fit with the neighbourhood character.   Eat your heart out, other towns...

VCAT member Peter O'Leary's 23 May 2007 decision has upheld Council's refusal of a planning permit for 3 two-storey dwellings on a roughly 1000 square metre allotment in Bourke Street, Kyneton.  The land is located on the wide, leafy road between the freeway and the town centre that goes past the Kyneton hospital and is a main gateway to Kyneton.  We've all seen a lot of what could reasonably be called 'crap' development get approved in Macedon Ranges, but this decision shows us it is possible to say 'no'.


VCAT said:

"23     In this case I am concerned about the placement of two garages, virtually side by side, at the front of Dwellings 1 and 2 together with visitor car parking in front of them with a relatively large turning area. This treatment results in a substantial portion of the front of the property being dominated by building mass and hard paved surfaces which is at odds with the general neighbourhood character. This treatment will also diminish normal opportunities for landscaping, including the planting of canopy trees.


24   I acknowledge that the applicant had made efforts to place canopy trees in select locations but I do not consider that these will be sufficient in providing a landscaped treatment that respects the immediate neighbourhood character."


 VCAT also said:

"26   I also have substantial concern about the manner in which the front two storey dwellings are treated. Whilst the applicant has modified the plans to stagger Dwellings 1 and 2, it produces large blank surfaces beside front balconies which tend to accentuate the height and massing of the building. When viewed in conjunction with the rather relatively small setback at the front and the large hard paved surfacing and small front landscaping, the overall appearance is foreign to that generally found in this residential neighbourhood."


VCAT concluded:

"29   I do not consider that a two storey height per se, is inappropriate although greater attention needs to be given to moderating the front facade area particularly in the area which is within 6 to 9 metres of the frontage of the site. I consider the height, extent of blank walls, extent of built form across the frontage and garage entrance features tend to produce a large mass in close proximity to the frontage. By comparison most dwellings in the neighbourhood are single storey with recessive roof forms. Even when dwellings are two stories the upper levels are generally recessive and do not dominate the streetscape or neighbourhood context. Whilst I appreciate the applicant’s effort in trying to stagger the development, the presence of high blank walls does not necessarily assist in reducing building bulk and massing when viewed from Bourke Street."


Member O'Leary also articulated concerns that there were no dimensions shown on plans, and ordered that a permit is not to issue for this proposal (VCAT No. P281 2007).   Click here to see the full finding.


MRRA Says:

We've highlighted this finding to let residents know it is possible to stop bad development invading our towns, even if it often feels like it has to be a cold day in hell to get that result.


UPDATE Re: Council Buckles To Developer Pressure For Units In Kyneton

(8/7/05 – P) Kyneton Unit Approval Off To VCAT: Objectors to defend neighbourhood character

Objectors will lodge an application for review this week with VCAT appealing against Council’s decision to approve the two unit, two storey proposal.


Council Buckles To Developer Pressure For Units In Kyneton

(14/6/05 – P) Too many, too high, say objectors.  Too bad, say Councillors.

In yet another disgraceful performance, at its Planning Committee meeting on 8 June Macedon Ranges Council approved a proposal to squeeze two units (one of them double storey) behind a heritage house in a heritage area of Kyneton.  It didn’t matter that the double storey unit looked into the next door neighbour’s lounge and bedroom.  It didn’t matter that the neighbour’s garden will be damaged and the boundary fence partially replaced by next door’s new buildings. It wasn’t a problem that no-one seemed able to read the plans or that the plans Councillors had didn’t match the ones the architect had.  And did anyone care if lots well under 300 square metres will be created, or that double storey units used to be prohibited in Kyneton?  Certainly not the five Macedon Ranges’ councillors who voted in the familiar ‘block’ of Bleeck, Connor, Evans, Petrovich and Relph out of a professed but somehow not-quite-believable fear that if they didn’t approve the application, the developer would win at VCAT.  The developer had apparently made it clear to some Councillors that if refused the application would go to VCAT, and also rejected reducing the proposal to one additional house, an outcome supported by objectors.   Councillors Dunn, Gee, Guthrie and Todd opposed approval.  See Also UPDATE 8/7/05




Yay!  Macedon Over-Development Rolled By VCAT

(13/4/15 - P)  VCAT finds it difficult to understand Macedon Ranges' planning policy in Amendment C84 so sticks with the existing planning scheme to say 'no' to this truly awful, out-of-character over-development   Macedon File  

Residents in Macedon and elsewhere are very pleased with VCAT's decision that this awful development proposal, at 19 Victoria Street, just didn't cut it in Macedon.  Previously refused by Council, VCAT Members Cindy Wilson and Ann Keddie found the application failed primarily (and rather dramatically) on character, intensity, context and bushfire grounds


See the full decision Macedon Property Developments P/L v Macedon Ranges SC [2015] VCAT 333 (26 March 2015)   Below are some extracts and their location within the document:

paragraph 41  Macedon is a "special and distinctive rural settlement"

paragraph 43  "the spaciousness apparent in the residential areas of the town is reflected in the commercially zoned area."

paragraph 44  "its [the development's] intensity is more akin to what you might find in a suburban activity centre"

paragraph 50  "The extent of built form internally to the site we find excessive in a context where the site cover is low to moderate"

paragraph 52  "Unlike a metropolitan Melbourne setting we do not find imperatives in the Scheme to maximise opportunities for urban consolidation."

paragraph 55  "Bedroom 2 within dwellings 9-13 and 16 have no windows. Instead these six rooms are provided with an openable skylight. It is our view that the absence of outlook from these rooms will result in poor amenity for future residents and is unacceptable on a site with the advantages of a large size, corner location and in a small rural town setting."

paragraph 56  "We find the layout of dwelling 15, a small, one bedroom/studio apartment above retail space facing Margaret Street, poorly resolved. It contains a living room relying on borrowed light from a bedroom window located some 7 metres away, an outcome we think provides unacceptable amenity."

paragraph 57  "Eight other bedrooms are provided with highlight windows,... layout results in compromised access to daylight and outlook."

paragraph 67  "This [bushfire related] issue exemplifies the difficulties in ensuring a dense development can achieve landscaping that is an appropriate response to fire protection yet still contribute to the landscape character existing and sought for the area and adds another layer that contributes to our conclusion that the proposal is too intense for the site and context."

MRRA Says: 

Bravo.  This piece of sheer suburbia was begging to be knocked off.  Perfect example of someone trying to suck every cent of profit out of this piece of land - and everyone and everything else be damned.   Well done to the Macedon 'mob'.  Enjoy it but also be on guard for a minutely changed set of 'amended' plans in a future application. 


One more thing.  VCAT's concerns with "mixed messages" in Amendment C84 reflect and confirm MRRA's long-held concerns about policy and policy changes in that amendment:


"We find mixed messages in the proposed planning policy relating to growth for Macedon. In the adopted MSS under Amendment C84, there is a specific reference to ‘no change’ in population for Macedon up to 2036 and an objective that seeks to minimise development due to the high fire risk.  At the same time, there is also clear direction to provide for infill development within the township boundaries with specific reference to the review land as a key site."  paragraph 20


Clear as mud.


Mammoth Development Proposal At Macedon

(16/12/14 - P)   VCAT hearing extended  

The VCAT case for this proposal began on 1 December, and went for a week, which turned out to not be enough time. The case is now set to continue in February.


Macedon Community Asks For Support With VCAT Case Costs Against Victoria Street Over-Development Application

(1/10/14 - P)   Every little bit will count, and with the community appearing to be doing all the heavy lifting in this case, please help residents to Keep The Village Feel, if you can 

Residents at Macedon are preparing for a large and important VCAT case (scheduled for 1 December, 2014) against the 4 shop, 18 townhouse and restaurant over-development proposed at 19 Victoria St Macedon.  Although Council refused the application, the applicant is attempting to overturn that refusal at VCAT with up to 4 expert witnesses and possibly a barrister.  To help level the playing field, the good folk of Macedon are trying to raise $10,000 for their own expert and possibly legal representation.    See VCAT fighting fund FAQs 


There are three ways to donate to help fund the VCAT fight:

MRRA Says:

Macedon residents are attempting to work collaboratively with Council, but Council's approach doesn't seem to be one of 'pull all the stops out'.   As this gross over-development is a landmark case for the people and town of Macedon, Council would look more committed and caring if it picked up a greater share of the responsibility at VCAT for defending its decision to refuse the application.


Gross Over Development Proposal Turns Extreme-Fire-Risk Macedon Into Downtown Melbourne

(22/5/14 - P)   4 shops, a restaurant, and 18 apartments on 3000 square metres of prime business land 


Macedon residents are horrified by this ghastly planning application (PLN/2013/404) at 19 Victoria Street, Macedon.   Check it out:


3D Perspective

Site Plan


Time for submitting objections has been extended to 30 May*, and a community forum is being arranged by local residents for Saturday 1 June at Jubilee Hall, from 3pm to 5pm.   * Objections can be submitted up until the time Council makes a decision - however the sooner, the better.


MRRA Says:


Macedon is a small town at the foot of Mt. Macedon, with extreme fire risk, and high environmental, landscape and heritage constraints.  It is also identified for 'no growth'. 


Word on the street in Macedon is that the people behind this snouts-in-the-trough proposal may also have been behind similarly greedy proposals for a 3 storey apartment block (with a couple of shops) on business land between Urquhart and Brooke Streets in Woodend, and a high-rise unit over-development at Anslow Street Woodend.  Both of these were reduced in scale and then approved by VCAT (both were subsequently put up for sale with permits but remain unsold).  If the interests are linked, there seems to be a pattern of serial, arbitrary, investment-only applications that are completely unrelated to the towns they land in. 


This is a residential development flimsily disguised as mixed use by tossing in meagre examples of 'business' use.  Just like the one in Woodend...  Another similarity is the internal multi-level (i.e. upstairs and downstairs) configuration of the apartments.  The Macedon proposal fails on design elements as well, including failure to provide any car parking, or appropriate access and loading facilities.


The other word on the street is that some well-known local residents, and possibly Villawood at Macedon, are involved in the developments.   If so, they need to be exposed. 


This land (19 Victoria St) was for unknown reasons included as a residential candidate site in the Macedon Restructure Overlay Review (2012), despite its commercial zoning (which Council failed to acknowledge).  The Amendment C92 (Macedon Restructure Overlay) panel report says it all, and its findings alone confirm this speculative development should not even get a look in.  Still, Macedon Ranges Council rejected the panel recommendation to abandon C92, so don't hold your breath waiting for Council to act objectively with this one.


You can support Macedon residents by objecting in principle to this application (PLN/2013/404), because if it can happen in Macedon, nowhere in this Shire is safe. 







Cr. Geoff Neil Pleads For Vote To Stop Medium Density In Romsey

(17/4/07 - P)  In the flip of a lip, the man who said the planning scheme's rural policies were "cobblers" begs for support for non-existent policy to save Romsey

You could have been excused for wishing you'd brought the box of Kleenex to last Wednesday's (11th) Planning Committee meeting where an excruciatingly 'nice' Cr. Geoff Neil almost got down on his knees trying to convince other Councillors to refuse an application for two units in Reynolds Grove, Romsey.  So intent on convincing them was he, the man who seems to usually not want a bar of anything in the planning scheme (except where it says 'not prohibited') actually hung his argument on POLICY.  Well, sort of.  More like he hung his hat on policy that isn't yet policy but might be, one day.  The sight of Cr. 'Cobblers' Neil holding up the still-in-its-infancy Romsey Outline Development Plan map that showed the subject land outside the boundary of where units will be considered - well, it really did take the biscuit.  The things we do...


MRRA Says:

My, how the worm turns.  The side-splitter in all of this is that it is Cr. Neil himself who slams others for 'selectively' picking out just the bits that support their arguments!   Seems one day policy doesn't count, the next day it does (but only in Romsey it seems).  Thanks for such a shining example of what you are talking about, Geoff.  The application deserved to be knocked off because it was plain old bad planning, not because of Cr. Neil's almost Academy-award winning performance.


It will be interesting to see if Cr. Geoff goes in as hard on and applies the same policy principles to an application coming up on Wednesday 18th, where a 12 lot subdivision proposal in Melton Road Gisborne, which conflicts with the much-further-along Gisborne Outline Development Plan, will come before Council.  Our money says that, because the proposal is in Gisborne (i.e. not Romsey), Cr. Geoff won't be moving a motion to refuse, won't be pleading with other Councillors to say 'no', but will be back playing his more regular role of the character who pooh-poohs policy and merrily promotes if not drives approval of applications - as long as it's not in Romsey!   What do you reckon?






20 Two Storey Units On A Floodplain In Woodend - Almost 1,000 Sign Petition Saying 'No'

(2/11/10 - P)  This one is just so outrageous it's laughable... 

An application to 'float' 20 2 storey units on the Five Mile Creek floodplain in Woodend has attracted almost 1,000 signatures.  The proposal, to basically put the units on an 'island', is not only massive over-development of the land, the land itself should never be built on.  All that water has to go somewhere else. 


That's not all. This suburban monstrosity is next to historic and delightful Islay House!!  Islay House, and Beth Shan next door, define Woodend.  And now someone thinks 20 two storey units next door fits in with such a prized heritage character? 


Click this link to see Islay House


A mediation meeting is being arranged.  Let's hope the developers change their mind and just go away.


MRRA Says:


Well done Woodend.  This piece of land has hosted numerous, unrealistic planning applications over the years.  Seems someone gets drawn in to imagining this is actually a viable piece of real estate, then comes the disappointment of learning how badly they've been suckered.  We've seen them come, and seen them go. 


It doesn't help that the wrong flood overlay is on the land.  It should be a Floodway overlay, but when Macedon Ranges' planning scheme was approved in 2000, the exhibited Floodway overlay was removed by the State government and replaced with a 'temporary' Land Subject to Inundation overlay.  Although they were supposed to, Council just hasn't quite got around to fixing the problem, and no-one has made them do it. 


The land acts as active floodway.  It should have been incorporated into the open space network around Five Mile Creek years ago, enhancing the Islay House surrounds and mercifully putting an end to all those poor suckers who keep thinking they're on winner. 



7 or 8 Towering Units Proposed Smack Dab In The Middle Of Woodend

(10/11/07 - P)  After "giving" Gisborne Helensville and the Call Centre, it seems designer Bill Jacobs is moving into Woodend

Horror is how residents near Urquhart and Templeton Street view a typically ex-Essendon suburban proposal (P207-0391) for 7 or 8 units (the application and the plans apparently contradict each other) in a prominent location in the town.  Reports suggest some of the "units" (we all know they are really houses on miniscule 'lots', right?) may be 3 storey, in an area rich with sleepy low-profile California bungalows and cottages, and one set of single storey units.  Residents advise plans were not available on Council's Greenlight Planning Permit Applications website until well into the notice period.  Check it out:


MRRA Says:

Now that parts of Gisborne are 'buggered', seems someone thinks Woodend should go the same way.  The biggest joke of all is that this lump of weatherboard and tin roof "units", some replete with roof gardens over garages, is next to the open Woodend main drain, the drainage line that carries run-off from what we understand is something like a 100ha catchment.  The main drain is notoriously and viciously floodprone.  Most Woodend residents will know exactly where this is.  There is a two storey house on the lot next door which somehow was approved on the same land as the main drain - two storeys is the only way the house would fit on what's left of the land.  We have seen video of cars swept into this drain and water up to the verandah on the two-storey house - why would anyone in their right mind think shoe-horning 7 or 8 towering "units" into this location was a good idea...  The tragedy is, some nong probably will.  If you want to object to this, you will need to move sharply.  Contact your West ward Councillors, and Council's Planning Department.


Woodend Units: Refused by Council But Off To VCAT

(26/5/05 – P) Applicant now running with three versions of proposal.

In another example of suburban pressures on a rural town, residents in Bowen Street, Woodend (on the periphery of the town proper) are distressed that an application for two units behind an existing house, which Council refused, is being taken to VCAT by the applicant.    The applicant is offering VCAT a choice:  the original proposal, a variation of the original proposal, and a complete change to only one additional unit, which leaves Bowen Street residents to grapple with 3 sets of plans.   The applicant is claiming the development will provide accommodation for elderly people and is justified by Amendment C8.   Note:  Amendment C8 was abandoned following an independent panel’s finding that it was not a strategic document.