“Regrettable”: Gym to be turned into office
The City of Melbourne has approved construction at a Boundary Rd apartment block despite a “breakdown” in a relationship between the owners’ corporation (OC) and the developer, and nearly 30 objections to the plan.
Developer VMR Property was seeking approval for the construction of a mezzanine level between the ground and first floors, and a reduction in the statutory car parking requirements from five to zero.
The existing ground floor space at 179 Boundary Rd – which many of the 27 objectors understood was for a communal gym – as well as the future mezzanine, will be turned into an office, according to a council report.
At the Future Melbourne Committee meeting on September 21, the building’s OC chair and resident John Gilmore said owners disagreed with the waiver of parking, open access to the waste service and the change of user space.
“[T]he OC has not been consulted at all in regards to this proposal,” he said.
Mr Gilmore said the OC was concerned that under the new proposal, external users would be able to access the space creating flow-on issues for traffic and illegal parking in Boundary Lane where ambulance access was a priority.
He said this would exacerbate existing “chaos” for residents created by a lack of delivery or drop off provisions, also flagging concerns about commercial users being able to access the building’s waste services under the new proposal.
“The third comment; the proposal compromises access and security to the building. We have had problems with theft from letterboxes and with and with non-resident access to this area, on a regular basis security is further compromised,” he said.
In reply, the council officer Larry Parsons said despite a note in the permit suggesting OC permission should be sought before going ahead, the Planning Scheme did not allow the council to consider this as a “priority issue”.
Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece said it was a “challenging matter” and “completely understood” why the council had received 27 objections, but reiterated it was appropriate under planning law.
“I’ve got to say, if I was living in this building and I was a user of this gym, I would not like to see it go,” he said.
But it is the case that under the planning law, and that’s what we are talking about tonight, how the planning law applies to this matter, the proposed development is consistent with the purpose of commercial one zone and would not result in any unreasonable amenity impacts.
Cr Rohan Leppert added that the carparking waiver should be granted given the proximity of the site to Flemington Station and two tram lines.
“I agree it’s regrettable that the OC and the developer VMR have fallen out, and whatever that reason for the breakdown of the relationship has no bearing on the planning decision.”
The council acknowledged there may be other legal avenues available to the OC. •