14th February 2017, Australian Financial Review  

Reported Comment
“One bedroom apartments starting from $375,000” The Australian Financial Review reported on 25 July 2016 that one bedroom apartments would start at $450,000 for the plans currently before VCAT.
“The median house price [for Fitzroy North] has surged to nearly $1.5 million” realestate.com.au reports the media house price for Fitzroy North as $1,237,500.
“The City of Yarra … referred Gurner’s development application to planning tribunal VCAT in December”

The timing of the application coincided with local government elections, during which Council is prohibited by law from making determinations on significant planning matters.

On 5 October 2016, in the middle of the caretaker period, just a week after telling The Age his company was working with the council to find a solution that ‘everyone will be really happy with’, Tim Gurner took the matter to VCAT on a ‘failure to determine’.

On 20 December 2016, City of Yarra advised VCAT it would have rejected Gurner’s planning application on the following grounds:

  1. The proposed height, scale and massing does not respond to the existing or preferred character of the area and will dominate the surrounding area.
  2. The proposal will result in an unacceptable on-site amenity impact including natural daylight and ventilation.
  3. The side setbacks and building will not achieve equitable development for adjoining and adjacent sites.
  4. The proposed waste management plan is inadequate for the site.
“The City of Yarra took the unprecedented step of seeking authorisation from the Victorian Planning Minister, Richard Wynne to impose an eight-storey height limit over the Queens Parade Precinct”

It is not the first time a local council has requested a State Planning Minister to impose interim height controls.

Also, the height controls sought apply only to the development site and immediate area, not the entire ‘Queens Parade Precinct’.

A separate DDO is being prepared for the mixed use zone at the northern end of Queens Parade. It has a draft maximum height of 14 storeys.

“An open door community consultation will take place on Tuesday”

The event was billed as an ‘information session’, not a consultation, and is presumably intended to replace the 9 February 2017 meeting with City of Yarra resident group representatives and Councillors, that Tim Gurner cancelled at the eleventh hour.

Also, VCAT requires that amended plans for the application be lodged within the next day or two: any last-minute changes ‘agreed to’ at the information session—to which only a subset of objectors were formally invited—would need to be considered and resolved, and new documentation produced, all in that brief timeframe.

“Every single one of our apartments will… provide the next generation with an opportunity to live in the area.” domain.com.au reports the average age of North Fitzroy residents is currently 20-39, with the largest demographic group 25 to 35 years.
“…a small minority of local Baby Boomers.” & “… minorities wanting to protect their backyards”

The community action group known as Protect Fitzroy North Inc. is directly supported by 1,000+ residents, and comprises every demographic group.

In terms of generational cohorts, that means Baby Boomers, Gen Z and everything in between.

Some own or rent dwellings in the heritage streets immediately surrounding 26-56 Queens Parade, but far more reside in other parts of the 240-hectare suburb.

What unites them, is their desire to see appropriate development on the site; a stance shared by the City of Yarra.

“It worries me that this project sets a precedent” The local community feels the same way.