AN application for the biggest housing development Daylesford has seen in many years will be resubmitted to council for consideration again next week, but with a number of amendments.
Hepburn Shire Council has confirmed that a "procedural error" at its last council meeting meant the application status for a 53-lot development at 17 Smith Street, Daylesford, was left in limbo.
While all councillors except for Cr Don Henderson and Cr John Cottrell voted it down, councillors did not move an alternate motion to reject the application - effectively meaning no decision was made.
The February council meeting was rowdy, with community members screaming at councillors throughout the proceedings and others holding placards in protest. The subdivision was first on the agenda, with other items including the adoption of the revised Local Law 2 and budget blowout of the Hepburn Hub at The Rex project causing heated protests later in the night.
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While council staff did not fear for their safety as such, some were made to feel very uncomfortable.
This tension with the community may also have played into council staffs' decisions not to participate in last weekend's ChillOut parade, a council spokesperson said.
The applicant, Joseph van Dyk of Hygge Property, could have take the application to VCAT but has instead resubmitted it with a number of variations following community consultation.
Related coverage: Council knocks back proposal for huge housing development
Since the February council meeting, a number of changes have been made to the application.
Mr van Dyk said a number of amendments had been made to the plans - including retaining the original dwelling 'Middleton House', retaining most of the trees and including more open spaces, such as a community park.
The number of lots in the amended application have been reduced from 53 to 38, meaning they are slightly bigger than before, while 10 per cent of the lots will also be designated to a registered housing agency for the provision of affordable housing.
All lots will be built using sustainable building practices and will have a minimum seven star energy rating.
Another amendment is the addition of three 'super lots' within the development which will be developed into eco-villages, each with a 7.5 star energy rating, and will provide more open space. However, plans for these lots will be subject to a separate planning application, to be lodged at a later date.
Mr van Dyk has also recently secured the land next door to the property, which will allow for another entry and exit point from the development via Raglan Street.
This will address the issue which was the basis of many objections, due to the original plans indicating the only entry and exit point was on Smith Street - right next door to St Michael's Primary School and up the road from the only high school in the region, Daylesford College.
The development of the newly acquired land will also be subject to a separate planning application.
Mr van Dyk said 95 per cent of the trees on the property would also now be retained.
"We value the relationship with the council and with the community, that's why we haven't gone down the VCAT process.
"We have chosen the collaborative approach and to work with the council and community on these changes instead."
Wombat Hill resident Jennie Wilmoth was one of the more than 100 objectors to the application.
Late last year she and a handful of other residents directly approached Mr van Dyk, who sat down for a cup of tea with them to listen to their concerns.
"My view was that the land will be developed sooner or later so let's try to make it the best we can," she told The Courier.
She and the other residents guided the developer to look at examples of developments they approved of while raising their concerns with the application such as the removal of trees and of the historic home, the lack of green space, high number of dwellings and of there only being one road in and out of the development.
"I think the developers underestimated the diversity of views held by Daylesford residents and how strongly we feel about the town... how unique it is and how we want it to remain a lovely and liveable town," Ms Wilmoth said. "We don't want it to become Caroline Springs."
While she is not happy that the beautiful pasture she currently looks down on will become a sea of roofs or with the lack of communication from council, she is pleased the changes proposed were eventually included - in the amended application.
But she wants changes to council procedure to allow for more community consultation regarding applications.
"The general public are an invaluable resource but rarely considered as part of the process, rather as a hindrance to it. Council needs to work more with us," she said.
A community meeting will be held on Saturday, March 14, at which the developer will present and discuss the new plans with the community.
The meeting will be hosted from 4-5pm at 66A West Street, Daylesford.
The revised application will be presented at Hepburn Shire Council's ordinary council meeting on March 17.
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