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- There has been a long-running community dispute over height limits in Frankston where at least two high-rise developments are proposed.
- The state planning minister temporarily halted mid- and high-rise developments near the Frankston waterfront in July.
- On Thursday, the minister’s office announced new overlay controls which allow for buildings of a “preferred” height-limit of 12 storeys.
- The move means two luxury apartment developments have a much greater chance of being approved next month.
- Campaigners against a “Great Wall of Frankston” have expressed dismay, while a counter campaign of supporters has welcomed the news.
Developers planning to build 14- and 16-storey towers on Frankston’s foreshore have had a win after the Victorian planning minister reversed a dramatic decision on height limits she made three months ago.
Planning Minister Sonya Kilkenny’s office on Thursday afternoon released a statement indicating that a key stretch of Nepean Highway Frankston would no longer be limited to a maximum building height of three storeys – a temporary rule that was implemented in July.
An aerial view of the land between Nepean Highway and Kananook Creek where at least two high-rise developments were slated to go.Credit: Eddie Jim
The move foreshadows new planning controls that will be gazetted by the Victorian government on Friday.
There has been a long-running row over height limits along a stretch of commercial land bordered by Nepean Highway, Kananook Creek Boulevard and Beach and Wells streets in Frankston where at least two high-rise luxury apartment buildings have been proposed at both 14- and 16-storeys high.
Community activists involved in the Stop the Great Wall of Frankston campaign have argued that the tower proposals are an unacceptable departure from historical council plans.
A 2005 Frankston TAFE to Bay Structure Plan, adopted by Frankston Council, set a 26-metre height limit for building in the Kananook Creek precinct and directed higher apartment buildings east around the train station.
Since then, the council has watered down mandatory height limits for the Kananook Creek area in favour of “preferred” height limits that developers can exceed with consent of council or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
Great Wall campaigners believe that approving mid- and high-rise buildings on the strip would block the rest of the city from the waterfront and create an irreversible “cool-climate Surfers Paradise”.
Two separate disputes at VCAT considering the fate of the two residential towers by developers Urban DC and Pace Developments were effectively paused in July when Kilkenny, the minister, announced a surprise ban on buildings on the strip above three storeys high.
That ban is due to expire on Friday, with new gazetted rules instead stating a “preferred” height limit on the strip of 12 storeys. The move means both developments can now return to VCAT in November and be assessed under the new rules.
In the three months since Kilkenny’s intervention, the Victorian government announced a major housing statement that emphasised encouraging higher density “activity centres” – including Frankston – to deal with the housing crisis.
Kilkenny is also the state MP for Carrum, the neighbouring seat to Frankston, which takes in some parts of wider Frankston but not the waterfront area. Frankston local Reverend Tim Costello, a member of the Stop the Great Wall campaign, said he was “gutted” by the decision.
“This is a forever change in the jewel of Frankston with ugly high rises,” he said. “I cannot believe a Labor minister would do this. There is not one unit of social housing in this development – it’s penthouses for multimillionaires.”
A counter-community campaign calling itself Advance Frankston is led by local Gary Ebbott, who has bought into one of Urban DC’s developments.
He said the group, which emerged in the past three months, has met with the council, local Labor MP Paul Edbrooke and Kilkenny, to voice support for the developments to go ahead.
Ebbott said others in his group were people who wanted to move into the Nepean Highway developments, and that Thursday’s announcement was “great news for Frankston”.
“Hopefully going forward this will give developers some certainty about what they can do with Frankston and not walk away. Governments don’t build houses [developers do],” he said.
The planning controls to be gazetted Friday also authorise the Frankston Council’s Metropolitan Activity Centre Structure Plan to guide development across the whole city centre and encourage density along the Kananook Creek.
Frankston Mayor Nathan Conroy said the authorisation was a landmark moment for Frankston.
“By providing critical clear direction on land use, building design, housing and accommodation, it will ensure future development not only stays true to Frankston’s culture and character, but also uplifts under-utilised and unloved spaces, and provides better connection to our prized assets of Kananook Creek and the Waterfront,” he said.
Developers Pace Development and Urban DC declined to comment before the planning amendments were gazetted on Friday.
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