Building plans sent back to drawing board

Tall order: Concerns about the height of a proposed development in Playne Street has led to council voting to refuse the developer a permit.

PLANS to construct a 14 storey tower on Playne Street have been labelled as “not appropriate” and rejected by Frankston Council.

The development, planned for 35 Playne Street, was proposed to contain 11 student rooms, 77 apartments, social housing, and privately run businesses. It was rejected with the vote of seven councillors at council’s 22 July meeting.

Council officers had recommended the permit be approved, but councillors ultimately voted to stop it going ahead.

Brad Smith, founder of Braaap Motorcycles in Frankston and the applicant for the permit, made a submission to defend the proposal. He told council that apartments had already been pre- sold, and urged them to approve it.

Mr Smith told The Times he was “incredibly surprised” at the refusal.

“Considering the council planning team gave the recommendation to approve, especially after working with council for 18 months, we believe we’d worked with council to produce something amazing for the city,” he said.

“We’ll go to VCAT, but it’s incredibly disappointing. That takes money and time, we’re a social enterprise and that’s money that we want to use to make a difference. This could cost us between a five and 22 week delay.”

Mr Smith told council that the building would result in the “activation of Playne Street” and “set a new standard”.

“We have sold enough apartments to be able to build,” he told councillors. “We sold them subject to council approval. The funds are held in trust.”

Mr Smith told The Times “we’ve pre -sold nineteen apartments, that doesn’t include family investments, that’s residents of Frankston, people who believe in Frankston.”

“All purchases are subject to council approval, they can pull out if they want,” he said.

Cr Colin Hampton called the decision to presell apartments “presumptuous.”

Mr Smith told council the inclusion of social housing was a key part of the proposal. Under the proposal there would “five student rooms and six 2-bedroom apartments for affordable housing”.

Cr Glenn Aitken said the addition of more social housing in the area is “desirable” but ultimately voted against the proposal, citing concerns about its height. “If another and another come to us and want to build to that height too, if they want ten metres above our desired height, what happens then,” he said.

The building was proposed to be 42.8 metres in height. Frankston Council states 32 metres as their preferred maximum height. Mr Smith said one reason for the building’s proposed height was that testing at the site had revealed it was not possible to construct the car park for the building underground.

Cr Steve Toms said the building “towers” above others in Playne Street and voted against it.

The mayor Michael O’Reilly voted against the move to refuse a permit to the developer. Cr Brian Cunial abstained. All other councillors voted in favour of a refusal.C

Cr Aitken said he was disappointed that he had only seen the final designs for the project “three or four weeks” before the meeting.

Cr Kris Bolam said that Playne Street “could do with some economic rejuvenation” but voted in favour of refusing a permit to the developer.

“The developer hasn’t adhered to council’s expectations,” he said.

Cr Quinn McCormack also voted in favour of a refusal. She said that the “project before us is set to be a social enterprise” but that it had “fundamentally missed something”.

“The community creates the planning controls in the city centre,” she said.

“It is plain to me that there has been an overriding of  the preferred planning provision.”

Mr Smith told The Times he had “reached out to councillors to set up meetings.”

“Three councillors had spoke to me, and none of those had heard the full proposal,” he said.

“Council staff have been brilliant, the planning team and economic development team have all been outstanding in supporting us.”

First published in the Frankston Times – 29 July 2019

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