Townhouses design flawed: VCAT

The site's tall front fence at 141 Springvale Road, Springvale. 390616_01 Picture: GARY SISSONS

by Cam Lucadou-Wells

A plan for four townhouses on a single-dwelling block at Springvale has been rejected by the state’s planning tribunal.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal reviewed the proposed mix of two-storey units at 141 Springvale Road after Greater Dandenong Council failed to grant a permit in the 60-day time limit.

Greater Dandenong opposed applicant Robert Ryniuk’s plan but not due to neighbourhood character or intensity of development, VCAT member Michael Deidun stated on 19 February.

“There has already been a substantial amount of recent development in the surrounding neighbourhood, that is of a form and scale that is similar to that now proposed for the review site,” Deidun noted.

However, he and the council agreed there were two particular “design faults” that defeated the proposal.

There was a lack of safety surveillance by not providing habitable windows overlooking the common driveway.

Windows needed to be screened to avoid overlooking other dwellings. There were no “surveillance opportunities” from habitable rooms on the ground floor.

Deidun was “not persuaded” by Ryniuk’s defence that glazed front doors, as well as CCTV, would suffice.

The member also found the ground-level living-kitchen-dining areas for two of the units were too small. One of the living areas was just 3.39 metres wide.

He didn’t agree with Ryniuk’s assertion that the “generous” outdoor spaces on the 697 square-metre block compensated for the confined interiors.

“In the climate experienced in Melbourne, it is also important that the indoor living areas provide a functional space … for future residents.”

The council was ordered to reimburse Ryniuk’s VCAT fees of $1435.80, due to its failure to meet the 60-day decision-making period.

“I cannot see how this proposal could reasonably be described as complex, given the range of planning permit applications that would be received by a Council.

“Instead, it appears to be a fairly standard medium density housing proposal, in a location where such applications are to be anticipated.”