A high-density housing project proposed for Bakery Hill is one step closer to approval, with the City of Ballarat referring the latest combined planning scheme amendment and planning permit application to the state government for consideration.
Minister for Planning Richard Wynne will decide on approval, meaning developer Horizon Synergy Pty Ltd would have to meet a set of requirements of a planning permit before construction on the Marvella Heights project could commence.
The controversial project has angered residents due to the size of some buildings, while a geological map from 1917 sent to The Courier suggests that the site could lie atop several thin-capped mine shafts.
However, director of Horizon Synergy David O’Brien said initial drilling shows there is no cause for concern, despite the Bakery Hill and general East Ballarat areas well-known for being littered with old mine shafts.
“We’ve done all our drilling (on the site) and we’re fine with it,” he said.
“We have to comply with the EPA guidelines and we have to comply with the environmental controls. The buildings mainly sit on good cut ground.”
City of Ballarat acting chief executive Natalie Reiter said geotechnical requirements were included as part of council’s consideration for the size of the buildings.
It is unknown if any mine shafts lie underneath the site bound by Main Road and Barkly, Victoria and Humffray Streets, and backs onto an unnamed road.
“At this stage it is unknown (if shafts lie under the site),” she said.
“Geotechnical investigations required as part of the planning permit would reveal this information.”
Residents feel like the site would change the characteristics of the land.
East Street resident Andrew Madden, who’s property backs onto the site, strongly opposes it.
“In a perfect world it would be great to have it as green space, but it’s not a matter of it being in my backyard,” he said.
“The scale of it is going to be a problem. There are privacy issues – it’s not the right development for the site.”
The independent planning panel found that the height of the ‘M2’ building be reduced to three storeys instead of four.
“It will mean a reduction in numbers,” Mr O’Brien said.
The initial plan included 74 apartments scattered across four apartment blocks, 19 two-storey townhouses and four office retail units – two with residential apartments above.
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