Plans to build almost 60 new units to house the homeless in Footscray and Maidstone have been delayed as a group of residents take their fight against the project to VCAT.
Maribyrnong councillors last week granted unanimous planning approval for the final three of the nine Ballarat Road sites slated by Launch Housing to house 57 new relocatable homes.
Launch chief executive Tony Keenan said everything was in place to proceed with the $5 million project, but the service would wait on the outcome of the VCAT appeal.
“We are very happy that the councillors unanimously supported the council recommendation, and have been contacted by a number of residents who are supportive of this project,” he said.
“We are very confident the planning applications meet all the guidelines. There have been a small minority of residents who have been opposed and we have taken on board any legitimate planning concerns.”
Resident Katherine Gow told last week’s council meeting the entire planning process should be restarted as Launch had created a false impression of a partnership with the council by using the council’s logo on its advertising material.
Mayor Catherine Cumming conceded the use of the logo was unfortunate but assured objectors the decision to support the project has been made on purely planning grounds.
Mr Keenan told Star Weekly he rejected suggestions made by opponents that the housing was of poor quality and would lead to the stigmatisation of residents.
“It’s designed by an award-winning architect and we have listened to all the issues that have been raised,” he said.
“I think people haven’t taken the time to understand that it’s not temporary housing; it’s relocatable but it will be there for as long as we have the land.
“When you are doing any housing project for people who are poor and struggling, it brings out this opposition, but I’m surprised to find it in Footscray.”
Mr Keenan said Launch was keen to start building the units and will use the project as a model for under-used land across Victoria.
“It’s a very important pilot, we have a housing crisis in this city and initiatives like this are taking place around the world.”