Hickman Street plan is voted down

A CONTROVERSIAL 52-unit Hickman Street development was unanimously knocked back at last night’s Ballarat City Council meeting.

The 50-member gallery erupted in applause and gave the council a standing ovation after the decision.

Applicants Ethan Property Group had applied to build a four-storey complex, including 44 one-bedroom units, eight two-bedroom dwellings and a 52-space basement car park overlooking White Flat, using National Rental Affordability Scheme funds.

However, councillor Belinda Coates, who moved the plan be rejected, said its scale and density were very different for Ballarat.

“We do really need to think long and hard about it,” Cr Coates said. “Ballarat is not the kind of city that has been built up high.”

Cr Samantha McIntosh said the council needed to refer to the Ballarat Planning Scheme, Rescode and guidelines about neighbourhood character. “White Flat is such a serene place,” Cr McIntosh said.

Cr Peter Innes said the proposal did not respect the neighbourhood character of Hickman Street.

“We have a moral obligation to refuse the application,” Cr Innes said.

Cr Joshua Morris said it was important that dwellings were in keeping with neighbourhood character.

“I have concerns about the sheer magnitude,” Cr Morris said.

Cr Des Hudson said the plan did not fit within the community and the residents were telling the council it didn’t fit.

“Bring it on if it goes to VCAT. This council has a good track record of defending its decisions,” Cr Hudson said.

Cr Vicki Coltman said Ballarat should adopt affordable housing options but it was clearly an over-development of the site, while Cr John Philips said it would change the amenity of the area forever.

The council had earlier heard from several residents, including Patrick van Raaphorst who described it as a “quasi, micro-ghetto monstrosity” while Patrick McCabe said it was a “social disaster waiting to happen”.

However, Ethan Property Group director Ashley Fenton said it would provide safe, affordable accommodation that would lower rental stress in Ballarat.

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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