On 4th April, VCAT published their decision that agrees with the community's concerns and upholds the council's decision not to issue permit.
You can read the VCAT decision by opening the document below.
Thanks to all the key objectors and everyone else who did the hard slog fronting VCAT for all those days. Thanks to everyone in the GBAG committee. Thanks to everyone who made complaints, submissions, were parties, the whole gambit. And thanks to every single one of you that donated to support the campaign to get it over the line!
Bunnings is proposing to build a massive 15.4 metre-high building on Glenlyon Rd, that extends all the way back to Pitt St. This huge building would be unprecedented for Glenlyon Rd, and the site borders residential homes on every boundary, and backs on to Pitt St, which is a quiet no-thru-road. A Bunnings in this location would bring undue negative impacts to residents, local businesses, and the existing amenity of the area.
We know people like the convenience of a large hardware store—and a sausage sizzle. But a Bunnings warehouse should be located in Brunswick’s core industrial zone (west of the railway line).
Bunnings made some very small changes to their plans. They have not provided an updated traffic impact assessment, as the Council had requested. Their original traffic impact assessment greatly underestimated the traffic impact.
They still have not addressed how they intend to handle the huge increase in traffic congestion. It is hard to imagine how the customer driveway will work. Without a right turn lane in, and traffic lights, it is likely that right turns will be banned, both in and out. (The Council has said as much.)
Bunnings has made a small concession on traffic safety. The change to the customer driveway may make it slightly less hazardous for pedestrians. But with an estimated customer vehicle every six seconds during peak times, this area would be unsafe for both pedestrians and cyclists. We still have no swept paths for trucks entering Lygon Street from Pitt Street.
Summary of changes:
The developers know that this development is inappropriate. This is what they admit: “The proposal has the potential to result in amenity impacts on adjoining residential properties due to noise, visual bulk, overshadowing and loss of access to daylight.” - Metropol, July 2020.
Already existing traffic congestion will be worsened with additional commercial and customer vehicles accessing the site 7 days a week. The location of proposed entry points on Glenlyon Rd and exit points on Pitt St will cause significant traffic delays on Lygon St and Glenlyon Rd. There will be delays to Lygon St trams from many large trucks (up to 19 metres long) turning in and out of Pitt St. Glenlyon Road buses will be delayed in both directions. More details on traffic concerns can be found here.
The big increase in traffic movements on Glenlyon Rd and Pitt St will lead to significant safety concerns. Glenlyon Rd is a major route for pedestrians and cyclists. Customer and service vehicles entering and exiting the Bunnings site will cross bike lanes. There are concerns whether bikes and pedestrians are sufficiently visible to by exiting drivers. All movements in and out of Bunnings cross bike lanes and interact with areas of pedestrian-traffic and residential streets. Many vulnerable residents live in the area including children, elderly and people in care. They need to be safe from traffic hazards. More details on traffic safety can be found here.
The proposed site is contaminated with carcinogens. The desired excavation required will expose residents in all directions to industrial chemicals, heavy metals, and toxic gasses during construction and well-after the site has been built on long-term basis. Off-gassing will occur over a long time, and even the plans submitted by the developer show the requirement for a long-term plan to cycle air on the site to reduce the exposure of toxins to the public once the building is completed. Further, no analysis has been conducted or plan implemented regarding asbestos, despite the developer stating that asbestos does exist in the buildings they wish to demolish.
The operating hours for this site are planned to be 6am to 10pm. All residents and local businesses are concerned about the undue influx of added noise to a residential area due to the early trading hours proposed, noise and traffic implications of multiple large trucks coming to the area every day, and increased foot-traffic. Noise from customer vehicles, deliveries, and timber cutting will also have a big impact on neighbouring homes.
The proposal is a very large development compared to the surrounding residential areas. It is visually very bulky. The height is 15.4 metres – about the same as a five story building. The site is at odds with the Moreland Planning Scheme (43.02 of Design and Development Overlay, Schedule 19) in terms of excessive height and excessive site coverage.
The proposal is out of character with existing and preferred future character of the area. The site is surrounded by residential properties. The Council is currently rezoning the site to Commercial Zone 3. The Planning Scheme states that for this zone, “A use must not detrimentally affect the amenity of the neighbourhood, including through the: transport of materials, goods or commodities to or from the land; appearance of any building, works or materials; emission of noise, artificial light, vibration, smell, fumes, smoke, vapour, steam, soot, ash, dust, waste water, waste products, grit or oil.” Yet the proposal would have a severe impact.
Because the proposed building is so tall and wide, it would block sunlight to some surrounding homes. In winter, the shadow from the building would reach homes on the south side of Glenlyon Rd for many hours of the day. It would cast a shadow on the windows of some apartments for several hours a day. It would block daylight to residential properties. The developers even acknowledge that this effect on residential properties makes their building non-compliant.
The proposed building is a significant size. By extending parts of the current building envelope to run high along the western boundary (bordering right up against residential homes on Pitt St and Loyola Ave), and by going outside the 'design overlay' along the upper western wall of the development, the proposal is not in keeping with the Moreland Planning Scheme.
The council wants this site to be partly used for employment creation. The developers claim that 120 people will be employed on this site (compared with 30 currently). But jobs will be lost when Bunnings on Sydney Rd closes, and the Glenlyon Bunnings would reduce sales (and hence jobs) in the other hardware stores that already exist in this area. Furthermore, some local businesses will be adversely affected. We need development on this site that will create real new jobs, not displace jobs from elsewhere.
Locals and residents find out about the proposal.
After forming a group with over 70 different concerned residents, businesses owners, and locals involved, GBAG initiates a campaign to represent the community in opposing the proposed development.
Moreland Council unanimously decides to reject the proposal after receiving 538 objections from concerned locals and the wider community!
A VCAT member makes decisions about who can be part of the case, how the dispute should be managed and how much time it will take.
The parties confidentially discuss ways to resolve their dispute with the help of a VCAT member. All parties must come.
Huge community turn out at VCAT hearings that span several days. Everyone presents their research and analysis.
VCAT agrees with the communities concerns and upholds the council's decision not to issue permit.