THE Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal has knocked back a 14-lot subdivision in Mt Helen.The decision was made because the proposal at 194 Greenhill Road did not comply with a koala protection overlay.The tribunal also had concerns with the size and layout of the proposed lots, and the extent of vegetation removal at the residential zoned area.Greenhill Road residents, who fought long and hard against the proposal, were relieved after hearing yesterday's decision.''I am ecstatic. I think it really validates the power you can have as a resident to oppose property development. It says a lot about the groups of residents who pull together and work for a common goal and what they can achieve,'' resident Brendan Sainsbury said.''It's a great decision for the area. It shows neighbour character is a very important aspect to consider when property developers are proposing development.''Mr Sainsbury said Greenhill Road residents were passionate about the native wildlife in the area, particularly the koalas.''We live on the edge of the Canadian State Forest, which is the only corridor of bushland that allows a whole raft of animals to move from the forest to Buninyong and beyond,'' he said.Resident Dennis Foley was thrilled with VCAT's decision, saying it had upheld City of Ballarat's decision to deny the proposal.''We are thrilled because we think it shows a lot of common sense and respect for the environment in the area, which we believe was lacking in the proposal that was put,'' Mr Foley said.He said residents were disappointed the developers did not meet with them and discuss the proposal.''They had total disregard for the koala overlay.''The koala habitat protection, introduced to the Ballarat Planning Scheme last November, is the first and only in the state.City of Ballarat statutory planning and building manager Veronica Shilling said council was pleased with the decision.''It's significant because it's our first test of the koala control. It's taken a lot of work to get it in the scheme,'' Ms Shilling said.The applicant, James Iles TGM Group, appealed to the tribunal against council's failure to make a decision in the statutory period.
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