THE Country Fire Authority expects to build a new fire station at Hepburn Springs within months.
CFA Grampians regional director Don Kelly said the new station would be ready for summer 2014-15, after the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal overturned the Hepburn Shire Council’s previous decision and granted a permit to the derailed development.
The CFA appealed to VCAT after its planning application to build a new shed opposite the Hepburn Springs Primary School was knocked back by the council in June.
Mr Kelly said commonsense had finally prevailed.
“We’ll be proceeding to construct the fire station as quickly as we can,” he said.
“Hepburn, being a very high risk fire community ... this is a decision that will provide them with the best fire service capability that we can.”
In June, Hepburn Rural Fire Brigade captain Barry Yanner said he was disgusted with the council’s lack of support, while a petition by 302 residents also supported and urged the CFA to build the station.
Mr Kelly said the council had since come out in support of the CFA’s application.
“We’ve made some modifications to try and work with the community,” he said.
“We’ll in the near future be able to upgrade their fire tanker as well.”
In her ruling, VCAT member Mary-Anne Taranto said the development would provide an important and “much improved facility of considerable benefit” to Hepburn and beyond.
“Any localised disbenefits are far outweighed by the broader community benefits it will bring, now and into the future,” she said
Hepburn Springs has a 40-year-old CFA shed with no room for a new truck even after it was named in the Bushfire Royal Commission as one of the worst locations in the state for fire danger.
When the CFA applied to build a new shed, the council raised concerns about the proposed development site.
The land is in a school zone and on an elevated block sloping into a large permaculture establishment.