The decision by VCAT to grant a permit for the Aspire project to proceed without on-site parking is disappointing to objectors.
No on-site parking for at least staff is a major concern.
It is pleasing that a third party appraisal validated all our points of objection.
It recognised the impact a lack of bus parking has on the neighbourhood.
The tribunal imposed on council a condition that they undertake a bus parking management plan for the Aspire site as follows:
My discretion is limited to the application before me. I cannot impose conditions that are unrelated to the permit application.
I cannot fix the existing problems, and I am limited to directing the buses generated by the new place of assembly.
I am persuaded to impose a condition for a bus parking management plan to be developed with and approved by the council, and the parties must accept that this plan can only apply to the new place of assembly.
Whether it can be applied to the existing situation would need to be agreed by the church, the bus companies and the council.
As a consequence the council must urgently find a solution for the dangerous and illegal practice buses now undertake because no alternative exists other than double parking to drop off and pick up passengers visiting the cathedral in Wattle and MacKenzie streets.
No problems, council said.
VCAT also directed that council issue a permit, subject to at least 18 amended conditions.
It was not the preferred action of objectors to end up appealing the council decision at VCAT.
However, we felt there was no option having regard to council’s disregard for the amenities and livability of residents in the Aspire precinct.
The City of Greater Bendigo Planning Scheme, which by design many believe displays a flagrant disregard to the concerns of residents and ratepayers particularly in residential streets close to the interface with the CBD.
Many ratepayers and residents hold the view that council only listens to the vocal minority groups and user groups in our community.
The silent majority having no say in important issues facing the Greater City of Bendigo.
Objectors were, and are still, upset with what is perceived as the planning department’s and CEO Craig Niemann’s handling of the council’s planning scheme.
Its suggestions that residents living near the interface should be treated differently to residents in the suburbs are both ridiculous and preposterous.
Many have lived in the cathedral precinct and the interface with the CBD for decades and have witnessed the steady increase in traffic congestion and declining parking availability, while our rates have increased dramatically, some over 250 per cent over the last five years.
It is what it is and it is what we see and I am sure residents right around the CBD interface will agree.
Workers who park and walk to the CBD from all points of the compass have our sympathy as councils have continually ignored parking for workers, shoppers and residents.
We hold particular concern for a traffic survey presented at VCAT by council that suggested there is ample parking availability during weekdays within a 200-metre radius of Aspire.
The constant waiving by past and present councils of statutory parking requirements for significant developments will impact on parking in the CBD for years to come.
It can be argued that a lack of easy parking is a major cause in the CBD demise.
People vote with their feet and the success of the Marketplace, Lansell Plaza and Strath Village is testimony to that conclusion.
We genuinely hope Aspire will not suffer a similar fate to the CBD due to accessibility issues.
It is not unusual to see vehicles traverse the cathedral block several times and finally leave because of a lack of parking availability.
One thing for sure is that time will only prove who was right and who was wrong.