VCAT battle awaits after Howard Street plan rejected

CITY of Greater Bendigo councillors have knocked back plans for 29 rental units in Howard Street, Ascot. 

But their fight isn’t over, with the developer to take the matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. 

About 20 nearby residents cheered at last night’s council meeting as all but one councillor, Barry Lyons, voted against the proposal despite staff recommendations. 

Andrea Metcalf was the most vocal opponent to the project and said she was relieved the permit was knocked back after “many sleepless nights”. 

“It’s in the wrong area and it isn’t consistent with what we’ve got there at all,” she said. 

“This restores faith in the democratic process and the role of councillors. There had been talk this would be rubber-stamped so this is a big relief.” 

Councillor Lisa Ruffell said there were too many units too close together and Councillor Peter Cox said it was a “good proposal in the wrong location”. 

Ashley Fenn, chief executive of developer Ethan Affordable Housing, said he expected VCAT would give the project the green light, despite the setback, and accused councillors of pandering for votes. 

“It’s a disgrace that the council, for the expediency of an election in two weeks, has gone against the professionals that the ratepayers actually pay to make sure these development applications apply,” he said. 

“Just for the expediency of the election they’ve gone against every recommendation of every professional that they employ for the benefit of their vote taking.”

He said the units would be available to pensioners at about $140 per week and said the language used by objectors was “disgusting”. 

“These people who are home owners feel they are superior to renters,” Mr Fenn said. 

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