Townhouses cause debate among councillors

The housing landscape of McComb Street will be changed from one house like this at 21 McComb Street to 13 dwellings on a block. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS.

By Mikayla van Loon

Two housing developments in Lilydale have been approved by Yarra Ranges Council after much debate and objection from local residents.

The properties at 17 and 21 McComb Street Lilydale will both see 13 two storey dwellings built on the blocks of land.

Over 40 objections were received by the council, meaning the decision fell into the hands of the councillors.

Resident Paul Di Ludovico spearheaded a petition and spoke at the council meeting on 23 November against the motion to approve the developments.

“I’ve been a local resident of these particular streets for 46 years, and my direct family for close to 70, still own a lot of the subdividable blocks that are in this area,” he said.

Mr Di Ludovico said according to the council’s development vision, houses need to suit the existing houses in the area and keep to the Shire’s values on housing.

“I find that this isn’t actually happening. The developments that are on McComb street don’t look anything like what we have on other streets,” he said.

Apart from these two planning applications, there are provisions for similar developments at 13 and 15 McComb Street, with 13 townhouses also under construction at number 19, bringing the total number of units close to 50.

“To me that’s a serious oversight of what we’re trying to create in this area. I don’t think we need that extent of development. The neighborhood is changing. Yes, I understand that.

“We still need to enforce the design incorporated with the existing streetscape, meaning pre existing single and double storey developments, especially along this area.”

Another of Mr Di Ludovico’s major concerns related to the level two access classification of the street, meaning the council is allowing for up to 3000 cars to use it each day.

“The street has less than 1000 vehicles a day use it. This isn’t Beresford Road or it isn’t Cave Hill Road. This street can’t sustain that many cars. If you think it can sustain that many cars then we need a traffic management assessment done on it.”

Director of Planning, Design and Development Kath McClusky said a traffic management assessment would not be needed until the use of the road changed significantly.

She also said the number of townhouses proposed in these builds comply with the guidelines and fall within the highest density residential growth zone area in the Shire.

Duncan van Rooyen spoke on behalf of the applicant and said he could understand the residents’ hesitancy to the changes happening in their local area.

“I think it is important to acknowledge the area is undergoing significant change and will continue to do so given the changing demographic and very high demand for housing in the area, especially for sites such as this that are so well located to public transport, shops and local services,” he said.

Mr van Rooyen said many of the developments of a similar nature have been purchased by first home owners and that these townhouses will cater to that same market.

Councillor Len Cox moved the motion to approve the development of 17 McComb Street which returned a split vote with Melba Ward councillor Sophie Todorov speaking against the motion but it was ultimately approved five votes to three.

Councillor Fiona McAllister moved the motion to approve the development of 21 McComb Street, saying it complies with the guidelines and therefore, the only way changes to the building of townhouses like this would be to change the planning scheme.

The vote was again split five to three, with local ward councillors to the Lilydale area, Richard Higgins, Tim Heenan and Sophie Todorov voting against the motion.