By Parker McKenzie
Local residents opposing the development of a retirement village on their suburban street are attempting to raise funds and awareness for their cause as the battle heads to the civil tribunal.
The group of residents spent the weekend gathering signatures for a petition and showing a state MP the site of the proposed build which they have dubbed the “Glengollan skyscraper”.
Glengollan Village, a not-for-profit aged care provider established in Ferntree Gully in 1956, proposed to build a two-story aged care facility at 2-8 Saint Elmo Street that could house 108 aged-care residents.
The proposed building site is across the road from their current facility which houses up to 90 residents.
Knox City Council rejected the proposal on 24 May after extensive advocacy work from the community resulted in 463 objections from 385 objectors before the decision on the development was made.
Glengollan Village has appealed the decision with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) with a hearing set for April 2022.
Residents have raised several issues with the proposal.
Saint Elmo street resident Andre Cooke said the development would damage privacy.
“The issue is the overpowering size of the building,” Mr Cooke said.
“I mean you can imagine if you want to go outside with some friends and have a bit of a barbecue, we shouldn’t have to put up with it.”
Catherine Higgins, another resident, said that the site had significant natural value.
“I don’t want to see all the vegetation go,” Mrs Higgins said.
“there’s a lot of wildlife that will be affected.”
Rod Barton of the Transport Matters Party visited the street and met with residents on Monday 22 November.
Mr Barton, who is an Eastern Metropolitan Region member of the Upper House, said the proposed development bypassed many local planning regulations.
“They’ll have these giant walls like what we put down the sides of a freeway in the street here throwing shadows over people’s backyards. It’s not acceptable,” he said.
“There needs to be more work done and there has to be some genuine consultation.”
The community group has raised $3,200 of their $20,000 goal to hire a solicitor to represent the objectors in the VCAT hearing through a Gofundme page.
Mr Barton said he would help give the community a voice by raising a petition in the Victorian parliament on the 25th of January.
“They’re working hard to get a petition together,” he said.
“We’ll give them a hand after Christmas in January when they produce the petition we’ve sponsored.”
The community group has 175 signatures on the petition after a weekend of waving signs and gathering support outside the entrance of the retirement village.
Glengollan Village chief executive officer Margie Hepner was contacted but chose not to give a comment or respond to questions.
Mrs Hepner instead directed towards a statement from 26 May.
“It is my opinion that councillors appear to be concerned with signalling their virtues and not addressing their planning scheme,” the statement said.
“Comments were made that objectors would be unlikely to succeed at VCAT in opposing a permit.”