Residents and a developer at loggerheads over a major new warehouse proposal for West Footscray will put their cases to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal after the developer elected not to wait for Maribyrnong council’s verdict on the project.
Star Weekly reported in July that CostaFox Developments had lodged plans for the redevelopment of a disused site at 25 Indwe Street to comprise 177 warehouses, offices, a childcare centre and restricted retail premises.
CostaFox Developments argues that its plans for the 72,400-square-metre site conform to local and state planning policies and could “contribute positively to the Indwe and Cala street streetscapes”.
But neighbouring residents say the project will clog residential streets, increase the number of trucks in the neighbourhood and destroy parklands.
Wefo Residents Group spokesman Julian Davis said a community meeting held on Saturday attracted more than 80 people opposed to the project in its current form.
“This is zoned as a core employment area, but warehouses like these are not going to provide any jobs,” Mr Davis said. “They are basically glorified storage units.”
The opponents are pushing for the site to be rezoned as residential rather than industrial, given it is bordered on two sides by residential properties and on a third side by Stony Creek.
Mr Davis said meetings with the developer had so far been cordial, but had failed to substantially modify the scope of the project.
Maribyrnong council officers have been preparing a report for consideration by councillors later this month, but CostaFox has taken the project to VCAT on the grounds of deemed refusal.
Council infrastructure services director Nigel Higgins said the permit applicant had lodged an appeal to VCAT as a decision was not provided within the required 60-day timeframe.
“Council is expected to make a decision … at the September 19 City Development Special Committee meeting,” he said.
That decision and the reasoning behind it would then be considered by VCAT, but the tribunal would hold the ultimate say on the proposal regardless of the council’s decision.
Mr Davis said residents are raising funds to join the fight against the project in VCAT rather than leave the argument up to Maribyrnong Council.
“We feel based on advice there is a pretty substantial case for VCAT not allowing the development, even if the Council hasn’t come down on our side.”
VCAT is due to hear the matter next January.
CostaFox Developments did not respond when contacted for comment.