The former Don Smallgoods site at Altona North is set to be redeveloped as housing for as many as 7000 people.
The 66-hectare site, fronting Blackshaws Road and bounded by Kyle Road, New Street and the West Gate Freeway, is half the size of Melbourne’s CBD.
Hobsons Bay council received an application to rezone the former industrial site from a private landholders’ consortium that owns 82 per cent of what is known as precinct 15.
The application was facilitated by the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA), the government body that oversees planning.
At last week’s council meeting, fears were raised that if councillors did not agree to go ahead with the rezoning, the government would take control and the council would lose any say in reshaping the site.
The rezoning proposes developments up to six storeys high, capped at 3000 dwellings.
If the development proceeds as proposed, and meets height and density requirements, residents will have no right to appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Concerns were raised by councillors – even those who said they felt obligated to vote for the amendment so as to avoid losing all control of the site.
Concerns centred on the lack of infrastructure to accommodate such an influx of people and cars.
Councillors Michael Grech and Tony Briffa voted against the rezoning.
Cr Briffa said it was a difficult decision because the state government would develop the land regardless.
“There isn’t enough infrastructure around the area to withstand this volume of houses, of people, of cars, of traffic and that’s the issue.”
Cr Peter Hemphill said he had similar concerns.
“When you look at the 3000 houses proposed, that’s equivalent to all the homes currently in Spotswood, South Kingsville and west Newport north of Mason Street combined,” he said.
He said 7000 residents represented about eight per cent of Hobsons Bay’s population, but accounted for about an extra 33 per cent in that immediate area.
“The VPA says it will have minimal impact on our road system, ” Cr Hemphill said.
“I don’t believe that one iota.”