Hotel: Two the limit

A BID to build a four-storey apartment building at the Mentone Hotel car park site has been knocked back by Kingston Council.

Councillors voted to halt a design and development overlay process at the latest full public council meeting on 27 March.

Concerns over “setting a precedent” for four-storey development along Beach Rd were aired by councillors before six councillors voted to abandon a planning scheme amendment.

Cr Rosemary West said only two out of 833 community submissions supported the planning application.

“People do not want to open a precedent that will allow four-storey developments to be applied for in this … residential area,” Cr West said.

“You might think that residents have a chance to put their view to the planning panel but, I tell you, developers are way better resourced than any group of residents. Developers also have a huge advantage in planning panels. I don’t think we should go through that.”

Cr Geoff Gledhill said he disagreed with abandoning the planning process but noted the community had made its views clear to councillors despite “planning arguments” that suggested any four-storey development would be “site specific” and not set a precedent along Beach Rd.

Cr Gledhill said council is “focused on retaining the building”.

“We don’t have many that look like that in Kingston. Fortunately, it was awarded a state heritage listing and that protects the building.”

Cr Ron Brownlees voiced discontent at being denied “the right to vote” on the planning application with the benefit of a council officers’ report on the project.

Cr Brownlees said he had never supported increasing the maximum development height in the area.

Crs Tamara Barth, Tamsin Bearsley, David Eden, Gledhill, Steve Staikos and West voted to stop the planning process.

Crs Brownlees and George Hua abstained from the vote.

Cr Georgina Oxley left council chamber during the debate and excluded herself from the vote to avoid any claims of “apprehended bias” since her pre-election campaign featured a pledge to oppose the Mentone Hotel redevelopment.

Federal Isaacs Labor MP Mark Dreyfus welcomed the decision by councillors to vote down the four-storey development, saying a plan to build 11 apartments within the existing hotel and 45 apartments and 12 townhouses in a building constructed on the car park site “was simply not in line with community expectations”.

State Mordialloc Labor MP Tim Richardson said he wanted to maintain the two-storey height limit along Beach Rd and is pleased the building was heritage listed.

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 5 April 2017

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