Aspinall controversy returns to council

UPSET: Protesters rally against the subdivision plans for Aspinall Street land in 2010.

UPSET: Protesters rally against the subdivision plans for Aspinall Street land in 2010.

THE controversial Aspinall Street subdivision, which locals say will set a dangerous precedent for other vegetated areas across Bendigo, has returned to the City of Greater Bendigo for consideration. 

The proposal would see the staged subdivision of the Golden Square land into 86 lots and removal of "heavy, high quality" native vegetation. 

The development, originally proposed for 78 lots, was first lodged in 2008, following approval by councillors in 2010 and then refusal by the Victorian planning tribunal in 2011. 

Council officers have again recommended that councillors refuse the permit at this week's ordinary meeting, due to the quality and density of vegetation at the site. 

"The loss of high quality vegetation and the lack of a site responsive subdivision layout argues against a permit being granted for the proposal," the report says. 

There has been 27 objections. 

Aspinall Action Group spokesman Greg Williams said the group was quietly confident that common sense would prevail and that councillors would go with the recommendation to refuse the permit. 

He hopes council will work towards an outcome, rather than "wash their hands of it" again. 

"We would be hoping that councillors ... make a recommendation that a set of agreed objectives /principles be established in consultation with the applicant, residents and council officers," he said. 

"This will hopefully allow either amendments to the current plan or a new concept that would better meet VCAT’s guidelines and allow for a development proposal to pass through council."

The Catholic Diocese of Bendigo owns the land.

Mr Williams said the group had been in consultation with the diocese and were under the the impression that the permit only required a small amount of tweaking before it was to be submitted to council. 

"We thought this plan would be adopted and go to council for approval. It came as a surprise to all, that the plan before council is not what we had been consulted on," he said. 

Councillors were originally split on the decision when it came to council in 2010, with Strathfieldsaye ward councillor Keith Reynard later apologising for letting the planning application go through.

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