For the second time in the space of a month, a decision on a proposed infill development bordering Lake Wendouree has been deferred to another day.
The proposal, involving the construction of five two-storey townhouses on the west side of Park Street in Wendouree, originally came before council last month, where it was met with strong community opposition.
While a motion in favour of the planning officer's report to approve the development was, in the result, narrowly defeated, council did not finally determine the application, instead requesting it be postponed pending a further briefing.
The matter returned to council on Wednesday evening, only to be deferred again in light of the applicant's decision not to amend their proposal in response to concerns raised by the community.
The basis of the deferral, which was moved by City of Ballarat mayor Daniel Moloney and seconded by central ward councillor Samantha McIntosh, was to afford the applicant opportunity to respond to the residents' objections.
"I'm actually quite surprised the applicant hasn't taken it upon themselves to consider some alternatives and sought to amend their application," Cr Moloney said, adding that he'd read all the objections levelled against, and items speaking in favour, of the proposal.
"A deferral will give the applicant an opportunity to [do so]."
The motion was carried, but not without strong criticism from south ward councillor Ben Taylor, who said councillors' role was to decide planning applications; not to advise or seek to place pressure on applicants to make changes to their proposals.
"Planning applications go through a process and that process is usually long," he said.
"I'm not here to stand for the applicants; I'm here to stand for process - I'm here to stand for making decisions."
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Citing the fact that the developers in this case had expressly informed City of Ballarat that they were not minded to make any modifications to their proposal until all avenues, including a potential appeal before VCAT, had been exhausted, Cr Taylor said it was pointless for council to defer a decision.
"Councillors, we have planning authority and we make decisions, whether that's for or against [a proposal], we make a decision," he said.
"There are always winners and losers when there are issues that are contentious.
"The problem is we actually have to make a decision, and prolonging it doesn't actually benefit residents or the applicant - it just, in a sense, delays the inevitable."
The matter is set to return to the planning delegated committee in June.
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