Collie was part of the project team (project managers Thinc Projects, Insite Architects and the owner St Andrews Court Pty Ltd), to facilitate redevelopment of the Hilltop Aged Care Facility on the corner of Hotham and Montague Streets, Preston.

The facility has existed on the site for some time.  The redevelopment proposal is focussed on the western end of the facility, which provides the oldest accommodation on the site, and in particular a large two-storey Victorian mansion and the single storey buildings immediately surrounding it, including a two-storey extension to the rear/side of the mansion.

The redevelopment is to improve the quality of accommodation and generally, this involves providing single bedrooms with ensuites as opposed to the existing shared bedroom and bathroom arrangement.  While additional floor area is proposed, there is actually a small decrease in the overall number of beds proposed on the site.

The Victorian-era mansion addresses Hotham Street and under a heritage overlay, having been identified as of local significance, despite the single storey extensions surrounding the original building significantly compromising its heritage setting.

Collie assisted in preparing and submitting the planning permit application package to Darebin City Council (Council).  During the assessment process the project team worked closely with Council to resolve the design, with a particular focus on respecting the heritage values of the mansion.

A design response was achieved that ensures the proposed development is sympathetic in form and scale to the mansion, while still being contemporary in design.  Council issued a Notice of Decision to Grant a Planning Permit but this was followed by, an application for review against the Notice of Decision (to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)) by an objector.

Collie advised on the VCAT process and the options for resolving the matter given Council support for the proposal and there being only one objector party to the appeal.  It was thought that the objector concerns could be addressed and resolved through a negotiation process without the need for a VCAT hearing and without compromising the design.

The project team worked closely with the objector and Council to amend the design and to develop a new set of planning permit conditions that addressed the objector concerns.  This resulted in a consent order being signed by all parties before being sent to VCAT.  The planning permit has now been issued at the direction of VCAT, in accordance with the consent order.

Ultimately, this was a successful outcome for the project, with a planning permit achieved without the need for a full hearing at VCAT.  While the process to achieve a consent order can sometimes take time and needs to work with all parties, it can often present a preferable process where there is interest on all sides in seeking acceptable compromises.

Enquries Jay Hollerich jjh@colliepl.com.au