A WONTHAGGI developer who used a legal loophole to bypass the council has been knocked back by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal on a legal technicality.
This week VCAT senior member Geoffrey Code dismissed an application by Grebe Investments Pty Ltd for an 83-lot subdivision on 26 hectares in Reed Crescent, adjoining the Wonthaggi tip and Rifle Range Reserve.
Despite failing to produce required documentation, Grebe Investments referred the application to VCAT for a decision on the grounds that the council had failed to determine the matter within the required 60 days.
The application to VCAT for failure to determine was dated October 13, 2017. However, a statutory declaration confirming the applicant had notified neighbours and other stakeholders was not returned to the council until December 13, 2017.
At a compulsory conference between the developer and the council in February, the applicant agreed to supply relevant information, including a drainage strategy and landscaping buffer plan, by March 26 for the council to consider its position on the application. The information was never received.
In April, the council informed VCAT that it would have refused the application on the grounds that the application would not result in orderly planning or secure a pleasant residential living environment and that it did not address drainage issues.
Cr Brett Tessari said then the developer’s use of a legal loophole had created suspicion and negativity in neighbours.
The same month the VCAT hearing was deferred when the developer once again failed to produce required documentation.
Shortly before the start of the deferred three-day hearing on October 8, Grebe Investments told VCAT it had become aware that a 3.6 ha part of the subject land, where lots and new roads were proposed, had not been included and assessed in the approved Cultural Heritage Management Plan.
The applicant asked VCAT to proceed with the hearing but reserve its decision pending approval of a separate CHMP for the missing part of the activity area.
However, Mr Coode dismissed the application “because the Tribunal lacks jurisdiction and because it is misconceived”.
The Australian companies register shows the director and sole shareholder of Grebe Investments Pty Ltd is Peter George Piasente, of Caulfield North.
The council’s waste team also objected to the development, pointing out that work is likely to start on rehabilitating the former Wonthaggi landfill within five years. The former landfill, which is adjacent to the proposed development, was unlined, and there is potential for leachate or contaminated storm water to flow onto the south-western portion of the site.