Diocese of Sandhurst development attracts discussion

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Diocese to gift nature reserve to city under $6m development plan

BACKGROUND: Aspinall Street fight goes to VCAT

BACKGROUND: Aspinall Street plans vetoed

The Aspinall Action Group has welcomed the Diocese of Sandhurst’s efforts to work towards a better outcome for a proposed $6 million land development in Golden Square.

The Diocese announced on Thursday it would gift a 7.15 hectare nature reserve to the Bendigo community under revised plans for a land development in Aspinall Street.

The reserve will be protected by a Trust For Nature covenant and cover almost 50 per cent of the church’s 14.98-hectare property on Aspinall Street.

The remaining land will include the Bishop of Sandhurst’s residence and a new 87-lot residential development.

An original plan for the Aspinall Street site was approved by Bendigo council in 2010 but later rejected by the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal after protests by residents including the Aspinall Street Action Group.

A statement issued by Greg Williams on behalf of the Aspinall Action Group said the consultation process had resulted in a marked improvement on the first proposal.

''We have been grateful for the way the Diocese has demonstrated greater sensitivity to the concerns of the local community this time round,'' the statement read.

''While we are yet to view all the documentation submitted to council, we are pleased with attempts to secure the long-term future of the significant vegetation on site through Trust for Nature.

''The current proposal before council has attempted to address some of the recommendations made in the VCAT report.''

The Aspinall Street Action Group statement did list several concerns:

''When and how the reserve area will be guaranteed Trust for Nature status? 

''How is the retention of only 47.5 per cent of the vegetation in line with the ‘organic’ solution called for and handed down by VCAT? More needs to be done to preserve a greater percentage of the vegetation.

''How is an increase in the number of lots from 76 to 89 an ‘organic’ response to the VCAT recommendations?

''How it will affect the streetscape and residents to the south and west of the site.'' 

The statement said the action group looked forward to an open and transparent process this time.

''More is required but hopefully we can start to look forward to a more positive outcome that can set a precedent on how best to preserve remnant vegetation within the city of Bendigo.''

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