By Jordyn Grubisic

MITCHELL Shire Council has learned hindsight is 20-20 with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, VCAT, granting a permit for 21-27 George Street, Kilmore development following planning scheme inconsistencies.

The permit allows construction of 12 dwellings in the General Residential Zone, GRZ, and the retention of two existing dwellings.

VCAT’s senior tribunal member Laurie Hewet said there were inconsistencies in planning schemes with the Kilmore Structure Plan, KPS, naming the site as being located in an equine precinct, while the framework plan did not replicate the designation.

“Relevantly the equine uses that operate from a number of properties surrounding the review site are prohibited uses in the GRZ,” he said.

“I am entitled to proceed in my assessment of this proposal on the basis that a decision has been made by those who have constructed this planning scheme to exclude the equine precinct from the framework plan for very good reasons … I am required to apply the planning scheme as I find it.

“In this context the framework plan … must assume greater weight in my assessment than those parts of the KSP that refer to the equine precinct but which council has chosen not to include in the framework plan.

“While the equine precinct designation in the KSP is relevant, its exclusion from the framework plan is an important consideration.”

Council designed a Kilmore Equine Lifestyle Precinct in the area through an overlay, which Mr Hewet said showed a lack of policy supporting the George Street site and surroundings as being part of an equine precinct.

In 2009, council also commissioned an issues paper titled Horse Stables in Residential Areas in Kilmore, exploring options available to council to manage the land for stables within the George Street residential area.

The paper explored, among others, rezoning the area to a special use zone to entrench existing equine uses and enable new equine uses to be established – it has not been implemented while other identified options have.

Mr Hewet decided the housing permit was acceptable under council’s planning schemes.

“I acknowledge that the introduction of the proposed dwellings on the review site may necessitate improved management regimes for each or some of the equine uses, and that additional expenses may be incurred as a consequence,” he said.

“That impact however falls well short of being unreasonable in the circumstances of this case.

“I was not presented with any information that would persuade me that existing operations would be unable to continue to operate as a consequence of the need to implement improvement management and maintenance regimes.

“The potential for conflict is a largely inevitable consequence of the historic uses in the precinct and the current zoning and policy framework that encourages residential development.”

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