An activist group that stopped the construction of a 24-hour petrol station next to the Yarra River is confident it will win a legal appeal brought by the developer in coming months.
According to Jill Dixon, a spokeswoman for the Warrandyte Character Protection Group, “A developmental firm, Platinum Investment Pty Ltd planned to build a petrol station near the Yarra River.”
In a campaign that began three years ago, the group opposed the development and through fundraising they managed to raise $30,000, which was used for legal representation at VCAT.
In late 2016 VCAT refused to grant a permit to the development firm because the petrol station would create ”unacceptable impact on the landscape and environmental qualities, and impact the existing levels of residential amenity”.
“As well as endangerment of native animals, their would also be tree removal and emission contamination that would threaten insects, birds and frogs. Many native trees would also be removed,” Ms Dixon said.
VCAT outlined their decision in a 48 page document to not grant a permit. Their conclusion states: “We find that the proposed on-site circulation arrangements are unacceptable. We therefore affirm the decision of Council. No permit is to issue.” However, the developmental firm has appealed the decision.”
”I am not surprised about the outcome of this case as the City Council has discouraged house building on that specific area for a long time,” Ms Dixon said.
”The community group are very happy about the outcome of this decision. The community have worked very hard to maintain the towns character and we are not worried about the decision being appealed.”
Bruce Lindsay, lawyer at Environmental Justice Australia said: ”Future land use developments, where land use change toward specialised developments like golf courses and petrol stations present significant challenges for river health, public amenity and access”
The Victorian Government released the Yarra River Protection Act last month. It includes 30 actions to ensure the long-term protection of the Yarra River.
”It is possible that developer interests and particular developers, whose projects may be affected by stronger environmental and public protections for the Yarra will oppose a Yarra Act,” Mr Bruce said. “On the other hand, many developer interests may find the added certainty of what is essentially a framework Act and ten-year planning instruments to be beneficial to them.”