Supreme Court challenge to Armadale complex

Four 12-storey buildings feature in the proposed Orrong Road development.
Four 12-storey buildings feature in the proposed Orrong Road development.

A MASSIVE apartment development approved for Armadale, which includes four 12-storey towers, will be challenged in the Supreme Court by Stonnington Council.

Two months out from local government elections the council said it would appeal against the planning approval granted by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal last month for the big development planned by Lend Lease at 590 Orrong Road.

It is not the first time the council has gone to the Supreme Court.

In 2010, it spent more than $200,000 on a failed challenge to the state government's extended clearway rules.

Much like the clearways issue, the Orrong Road development proposal has attracted considerable local anger.

The plans include 19 buildings - four of 12 storeys, 466 dwellings, 681 car spaces, a convenience store, cafe and maternal health centre - on the 2.5-hectare site.

The site is well placed for development, with no height control, the adjacent Toorak railway station and parks, and less than 7 kilometres from the CBD.

The ruling last month by the tribunal said ''many nearby residents … are strongly opposed to the development proposed by the applicants, especially its scale and design''.

But it found, ''after balancing and integrating the relevant policies … the development has a net community benefit, is sustainable development and is an acceptable planning outcome''.

Stonnington mayor John Chandler disagrees.

''Council's focus on appealing the VCAT decision is based on legal advice that there is an 'error of law' to be pursued, which presents the potential for a different decision to have been reached,'' he said.

''The legal opinion considers that an error of law could be established, principally based on the tribunal's express statement that 'the number of objections to the proposed development was an irrelevant consideration','' he said.

He said it was considered, the tribunal ''failed to give due regard to significant community input and has made a decision that is not supported by the local community or council''.

Cr Chandler said the court challenge would cost ''thousands of dollars'', but the cost was ''far outweighed by the benefit to the community that we are representing''.

Stonnington councillor Tim Smith said that VCAT had displayed ''planning elitism''.

''This is an important step for the local council and the community to try and get VCAT to listen to reasonable objections,'' he said. ''VCAT has got its priorities wrong when it disregards the legitimate concerns of residents,'' he said.

The council lodged documents on Monday seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Margot Carroll from the Orrong Group - a local community group that has led the charge against the proposal - said they were very pleased the council was appealing against the decision in the Supreme Court.

''We were also concerned about the tribunal's view on community opposition,'' she said.

Lend Lease said it could not comment while the issue was before the courts.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy has said he will not intervene in the planning dispute.

This story Supreme Court challenge to Armadale complex first appeared on The Age.