A CONTENTIOUS planning application to subdivide Green Wedge land in Clarinda has been overturned by VCAT.
A narrow majority of Kingston councillors voted last year to approve the subdivision of vacant land at 2 Leslie Rd, Clarinda against the advice of council officers (‘Green light for wedge carve up’, The News 24/9/14).
At the time officers advised the application by Norm and Lyn Dennis to split the land into five lots of 907 square metres each for “horse agistment” did not comply with Kingston’s Planning Scheme provisions.
The Defenders of the South East Green Wedge subsequently appealed council’s decision at the planning tribunal in May and VCAT last week overturned council’s approval of the Clarinda subdivision.
Then mayor Cr Paul Peulich denied allegations by Cr Rosemary West last year that he had advised the applicant to change the reason for the subdivision from “residential development” to “horse agistment” on the planning application form.
In its judgement issued last week, VCAT noted: “The land is currently capable of agisting horses. There is no need to formally subdivide the land in order to provide agistment at smaller scales. Smaller agistment can be accommodated with the inclusion of fences.”
Councillors who voted against the planning permit approval at September’s council meeting were concerned a subdivision to house horses could be the first step in an attempt to subdivide the land for residential development.
Defenders of the South East Green Wedge secretary Barry Ross said the VCAT decision had vindicated the group’s stand against the subdivision proposal.
“It was important that no decisions should be made that would have such long term consequences as a subdivision into small lots.”
Cr Rosemary West hailed the VCAT decision as “a significant victory” against attempts to carve up Kingston’s Green Wedge for development.
“Barry made the case for refusal against the senior barrister acting for the landholder and eminent planner Peter Soding representing council.
“It is not often that a community representative prevails at VCAT against the highly paid advocates for the developers and councils, so this was a real David and Goliath contest.”
Kingston Council did not reply before publication to questions from The News about how much the failed planning permit application process and VCAT appeal had cost ratepayers.