Thursday, September 11, 2008

VCAT Strikes Again

This headline could probably go permanently on a newspaper's front page and there would always be some content to add.

In spite of high interest rates and a dubious economic outlook, imagine the pride you might feel when you moved into your brand new house. While I don't approve of these poorly serviced huge outer suburban developments, I know why people buy and build in these locations and they certainly aren't to blame.

So, you are in your new house but then find that methane is coming up from the ground and you are forced to move out or risk going up like the Hindeburg.

How would you feel? Pretty annoyed I should think and start wondering how this has happened.

It would seem the developer, rapacious as they always are, wanted to build on the edge of what is referred to politely as a land fill site. I will just call it for what it is, a rubbish tip, or dump.

The local council objected as it thought it was an inappropriate location. The developer went to the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal and guess what? It was approved.

This is going to cost someone, no doubt us taxpayers an absolute bomb. It has already cost the local council $5 million, unfairly loaded onto the other rate payers.

But I have the solution to the cost. The developer pays half and members of VCAT, who approved the development against the wishes of the local council, pay the other half. This is the only way I can see to teach VCAT members to act in the interests of the community and not in the interest of their developer mates, big business, shareholders profits and other vested interests.

I always try to see both sides of arguments, weight up the evidence, and try to think well of people, but on this matter I will emotionally state the bleeding obvious, VCAT is a disgrace.

I'll even give it its own tag for future posts.


  1. I can comment on this one because (for once) I don't have a conflict of interest.

    The Austlii website doesn't appear to be working at the moment, so it's a little hard to try to find the VCAT decision that relates to this housing development.

    If one is to take a balanced view, it might be prudent to review this decision and look at what evidence was before the Tribunal.

    Having said that, the land is zoned residential and is capable of being developed for residential uses. VCAT is not charged with rezoning - this is the responsibility of Council, the State Government, and Planning Panels Victoria if they are called upon.

    It would appear that Casey Planning Scheme Amendment C6 was responsible for the rezoning from a rural zone to a residential zone back in 2000. The panel report has some extensive discussions about the proposed development plan and buffer distances from nearby landfill operations - and can be found here.

    It would appear that the residential development is 200m from the landfill site.

    If this wasn't an adequate buffer distance, then there are many more people who were responsible for the current shambles by firstly rezoning the land to a residential zone and secondly endorsing the development plan. Furthermore, no environmental effects statement was undertaken as part of the amendment process.

    Once I have managed to find the VCAT decision, I'll comment further.

  2. I beg to differ with Urban Creature.
    According to this article, from July 2008, HERE
    VCAT allowed the houses to be built right beside the tip, disregarding any 200 mt buffer zone.

  3. Thanks for your input Aaron and of course I am interested in your opinion. I expect there are good reasons why the obscurely named Austlii website is not is overwhelmed.

    Perhaps Casey was wrong in its rezoning, but keeping it simple, VCAT made the ultimate decision. If an environmental impact statement had not been done, then VCAT should have erred on the side of caution.

    No doubt you will find an extremely wordy judgement on the case that shifts blame and responsibility to everyone else but VCAT.

    You only have to notice that councils have stopped wasting money defending their decisions at VCAT by not objecting and let the time pass.

    Btw, I was in St Kilda during the week with my camera. The previously mentioned Acland Street development, as I studied the streetscape, infuriated me. Acland Street is intact between Carlilse Street and Fitzroy Street, apart from the abominable McDonalds.

    Never mind the height limit opposite where I live, that is now a 'flexible' height limit.

    I hate Brighton and all it stands for, but it is a pretty place. But it will change heaps now VCAT is in control.

    VCAT should not be our psuedo planning body. Local councils should set the rules, with input from the state government. If a development breaches rules, then it is not allowed. Simple.

    I could be patronising and say, get back to me darls.

    Instead I will say that your further input would be most welcome, but I have been around a long time and I have seen and heard what has been done in the name of VCAT for a very long time. I used to think about VCAT decisions with logic, now it is all emotion.

  4. Nice find Jayne. So telling is the date.

  5. Anonymous10:42 am

    Those poor homeowners.

  6. And it is a bit of a worse situation now Daisy.

  7. For those interested, the VCAT decision can be found here. [RTF,129KB]

    There is some brief discussion about the buffer distance from the landfill site at paragraph 3, which reads:

    "3. The Tribunal at a previous hearing and in an interim order dated the 6th May 2004. The Tribunal’s order was that the required buffer distance of the subdivision from the landfill should be 200 metres measured from the active tipping and batter areas of the fill and that this buffer zone could be progressively reduced as the tipping areas were completed, capped and gas extraction systems installed."

    Unfortunately, I cannot find any other decisions on the database that deal with this matter.

    The last part is the most interesting - were gas extraction systems installed by those running the landfill site (i.e. Casey & Frankston Councils)? If not, then these Councils would clearly be liable - despite the decrease in the buffer distance allowed by VCAT.

  8. Gas extraction was installed, but I am not sure when Aaron.

  9. Anonymous12:18 pm

    Gas extraction systems were put in when the tip was closed and capped, but didn't work adequately. Deeper ones were installed. They are working very well now.

  10. Thanks for the info Anon.