Update on Piedimonte's acquiring the rear laneway

Update posted by Councillor Misha Coleman on facebook :

Hi folks - an update as requested - and further detail below re the process for the proposed discontinuance at the rear of 37-45 Best Street.

November 2017
Council’s Valuations Coordinator advised Applicants they will need to formally apply for discontinuance and purchase.
Application plus relevant information (copies of plans, titles, etc.) sent to Council’s Lawyers who:
· Undertook some minor preliminary work (title search of road).
· Prepared cost agreement and sent to applicant – applicant must sign cost agreement prior to any work on discontinuance commencing.
· Cost agreement requires applicant to agree to pay all of the costs associated with the proposal together with the market value of the land (subject to Council approval).

December 2017
Cost agreement prepared for posting to applicant.
Work on the discontinuance will not commence until the Applicant signs costs agreement (this is the stage Council are presently at).
Process, if the cost agreement is signed, follows:
Council’s lawyers:
Determine the status of the Road – is the road a road that Council can legally consider discontinuing?
Contact Public/Statutory Authorities to determine if they have any existing assets in the road that are required to be maintained or protected via the creation of an easement pursuant to section 207C of the Act.
Engage a Land Surveyor to undertake a site inspection and prepare appropriate plans – the surveyor can’t be engaged until Authorities provide easement details to be included in survey plans.
Draft a Council report to commence statutory procedures to discontinue road. (First Council Report).
First Council Report will outline background of the discontinuance proposal.
Will provide details of the Applicant’s proposal.
Will require Council to resolve for public notice requirements of discontinuance pursuant to section 223 of the Act.
It would expected that the first report to Council on this matter would be presented to Council in late March/early April 2017.

And in closing, I hope you and your families have a safe and restorative festive season.

Misha Coleman, Deputy Mayor, City of Yarra.

Piedimonte's - Objections Still Open

Permit number: PLN17/0618

The City of Yarra has been quoted as saying the decision is expected in the New Year, in that case objections can be lodged at least until the end of the year.

Why Object ?

Objecting is the official way to express your opinion on whether the current plans would deliver a net benefit to the community.

You are not objecting to development generally, or objecting to all development of this site. Objections are also the official mechanism for you to make constructive suggestions for how the proposed design could be improved.

Residents who put in objections will be invited to the application consultation meeting, and will be officially notified on the progress of the application throughout the planning process.

The council officers must consider all valid planning grounds raised in objections in their decision on the application. The plans are huge and dense, so the extended community can help by spotting flaws that might otherwise be missed.

The more objections received, the stronger the message from the community, that the development needs a great deal fixed before it delivers a net benefit to the community, rather than a net loss.

How to Object ?

The council page explaining the objection process is Making an Objection. You can object :

  • by letter : mail: Yarra City Council, PO Box 168 Richmond VIC 3121
  • in person at a Yarra City Council contact centre.
  • registering for a login and then submitting an objection using the following link :  Piedimonte's Objection Page

The link to the The Council Webpage where you can download the full documentation is : Piedimonte's Application Documentation Page The City of Yarra download can be flakey. If you have trouble refresh the download page after each file download. If a file download fails restart your web browser.

You may want to keep in mind :

Objections are public documents, so not only is keeping things polite and on topic good form, it means the council officer's day is not spent being beaten up over things they are not responsible for and cannot change.

Our council planners are tasked by planning law to fairly assess whether or not the development meets the objectives of the planning scheme, so that is where their efforts are focused. Addressing the big picture issues of the flaws in the planning scheme, and how it should better serve the community is the responsibility of our (successive) state governments, not the council officers.

What this means in practice is an application is approved or refused on how closely the building meets the planning objectives for parking, traffic, heritage, etc. established by the state government. These points of assessment are "planning grounds".

An application only needs to be "acceptable" on planning grounds for the planning officers to approve it. That is a very low bar, but it is way the planning scheme works.

What are the Planning grounds ?

The physical impact of the change the new building will bring to the site - demolition of heritage, a height or look that clashes with the rest of the neighbourhood, are planning grounds.

Impact on public and private access to unshaded sunlight, privacy, traffic, parking, the vitality or diversity of the shopping village, are all planning grounds.

The excellent notes you can download using the button below have been put together by the resident's who are Piedimonte's neighbours in Egremont Street. A few of the points have been extracted and are listed in the panel below.

You don't have to stick to the suggested list of areas to object. It is excellent but not exhaustive. For example you may have input on how practical the provision for bicycles is. Any direct impacts of the proposed building and its residents can be addressed. Indirect impacts, eg. dips in neighbours house prices, are not planning grounds.

A link to the current copy of the planning scheme is also below, as is a copy of the heritage citation for HO327. The clauses and heritage overlay listed in the town planning report are found in these two documents.

The planning scheme is over 1000 pages. If you are game to have a look, it is only worth considering definite objectives. Objectives that say "should" instead of "must" or "encourage" instead of "ensure" may read well, but have no useful effect.

The end of the line for an application is VCAT. VCAT lawyers get paid big bucks to successfully argue planning objectives do not apply to their clients site, so the council officers know only definite objectives can hope to be relied upon at VCAT.

The development site is zoned entirely Commercial Zone One, and is all included in Heritage Overlay 327

Some Planning Grounds for Objection

These are some suggested grounds for objection. This list only touches on each of the planning areas discussed below.

Neighbourhood Character

The proposed building will be 7 storeys high. This significant scale is not consistent with the neighbourhood
character objectives to complement the scale of the neighbouring buildings in the North Fitzroy Village, which are largely one and two story dwellings with retail.

The proposed built form above the existing heritage facades will dominate the streetscape.

The proposed design would set a precedent for VCAT on what is acceptable built form for future developments in Fitzroy North, especially adjacent corners, in direct conflict with current council policy.


Only 3 metres of the existing facade of the warehouse in Scotchmer and Egremont Streets is to be retained. This is contrary to the objectives of the heritage overlay.

Demolition of the majority of current heritage buildings and replacement with construction of a new 7
storey building. This is counter to the stated preferred practice of adapting and re-using heritage buildings.

The heritage building at 33 Best Street is individually significant. Stripping an individually significant building back to just the facade does not meet the planning objectives for individually significant buildings in a heritage overlay.

Reduction in retail diversity

As proposed this development will result in a net loss of retail, including the Chemist. This is against council policy. Reducing retail diversity, reduces the number of reasons to visit a shopping strip. Reduced diversity means people are pushed to use their car for more shopping trips as the shop you walked to is no longer there.

Increase in traffic risks to Pedestrians and Cyclists on Scotchmer Street

It is proposed to have a new loading bay and car parking entrance (for both customers and residents) from Scotchmer Street.

There will be limited sightlines while exiting the proposed loading bay and carpark entrances. This will create dangerous traffic conditions for oncoming vehicles and bicycles, as well as safety concerns for pedestrians.

The proposed loading bay configuration requires a swept path for an articulated vehicle to a position facing ongoing traffic. This creates a traffic hazard.

Poor internal Amenity

The proposed materials (metal shutters, large sloping metal roof and cheap render finishes) are poor quality, which raises concerns about their longevity and maintenance requirements, and the materials are not consistent with the adjacent area.
There is little solar protection to the proposed new apartments, creating huge energy consumption concerns and excessive A/C loads.

A Net Community Benefit is not demonstrated

The mix of apartment does not encourage diversity, very few three or more bedroom apartments.

No affordable housing is offered.

Parking Provisions
Currently car parking is inadequate for current users of the supermarket,other retailers and residents.

The proposal assumes only 9 visitor parks are required for 89 apartments due to proximity to trams. This is half the statutory requirement. This puts more pressure on limited parking in the area.

There are already a substantial number of non-residents parking in the area; on 30 Nov. 2017, 17 of 36 cars in Egremont Street had no permit or visitor permits and there were no spare parks

Existing parking spaces on Scotchmer and Egremont Streets will be lost with the introduction of the new crossovers for the new laneway on Egremont Street and the expanded car parking and loading bay on Scotchmer Street.

Process for Piedimonte's to acquire the laneway

Not to be forgotten, the plans submitted to the council depend on the public laneway off Scotchmer Street, becoming private land owned by the Piedimonte family.

The authority to approve or deny an application to acquire the lane way lies with the council, not VCAT. Our ward councillor Misha Coleman's posted the following :

Dear Residents

As requested, please find below some general information with regards to the steps involved in the formal process to discontinue a road or laneway:

1. A determination as to whether the road in question is under Council’s management or not; 
2. Council then needs to contact the public authorities to determine whether they have existing assets in the road;
3. Council would instruct a surveyor to undertake a site inspection 
4. Council staff would then draft a report to go to the full Council to seek a decision as to whether to commence the statutory procedures 
5. if the elected Council members vote to commence statutory procedures, Yarra would then arrange for a public notice of the proposed road discontinuance to be published in the local newspapers;
6. Council will then consider any submissions received with regards to the proposed road discontinuance;
7. Staff would draft a report to Council as to whether the road should be discontinued;
8. a valuation of the road would need to be prepared and provided to the applicant;
9. if the elected Council members vote to discontinue the road, a notice would be published in the Victoria Government Gazette.

This all takes a minimum of 7-9 months usually. Hope this helps.