Port Phillip Council seeking heritage controls to stave off Elwood demolition

Port Phillip Council is urgently seeking heritage controls from the Victorian Government to ensure several Elwood properties cannot be demolished before a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) hearing.

The request, to Planning Minister Richard Wynne, follows a resolution at last night’s Council Meeting to seek interim and permanent heritage controls for four Tiuna Grove properties.

In February, Council refused a developer’s planning permit application to replace 1, 3 and 5 Tiuna Grove with a three-storey apartment block. The developer will seek permission for an amended development plan at an 8 July VCAT hearing.

Mayor Dick Gross said Council would continue to oppose the development when making its own submission to VCAT next month.

“We believe the proposed changes still don’t meet key criteria, including the purpose of the Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ). While three storey buildings can be allowed in the NRZ, developments are not supposed to dominate the streetscape or affect amenity,” Cr Gross said.

“In the meantime, Council is seeking the interim heritage control to ensure a private building surveyor cannot approve a demolition permit for these properties to be razed ahead of the VCAT decision. We hope that VCAT upholds Council’s refusal and that these properties will gain permanent heritage protection.”

Once a request for interim heritage controls is received, a demolition application is placed on hold until the Minister hands down a decision.

An independent heritage advisor has recommended to Council that the Tiuna Grove properties should be included in an existing heritage overlay as they possess heritage values consistent with the overlay’s aesthetic and historic values.

“Preserving our heritage is incredibly important to Council and our community. While the final say is up to VCAT, we want to ensure that these homes are still standing if the planning permit application is refused.”

Council is already proactively reviewing properties it considers should be added to heritage overlays.

The Tiuna Grove properties were not included in a heritage overlay applied in the mid-1990s as they were separated by blocks of flats. As new developments have appeared on streetscapes over the years, more properties which weren’t originally included in overlays are being added in recognition of their heritage value.

A 1586 signature petition presented to Council last night argued against a planning permit being issued for this particular development.

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