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Burnham Beeches: What Is being Proposed by Shannon Bennett

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  • Burnham Beeches: What Is being Proposed by Shannon Bennett

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ID:	74631 This is what is being proposed in regard to the redevelopment of the wonderful Burnham Beeches estate, by the acclaimed Melbourne Chef - Shannon Bennett and his business partner Adam Garrisson. Following the growing hysteria by supporters of the No Maccas in Tecoma Campaign, that so spectacularly failed to stop the establishment of the business and indeed, to even really galvanise the community against the development, we provide the development plans as presented to the Shire of Yarra Ranges so that the truth can be read.


    The following is taken directly from Council documents.

    The Proposed Amendment
    The new owners of the property would like to redevelop the farm and the heritage buildings on the property as a ‘world class’ leisure destination which offers a gourmet culinary experience combined with promotion of art and culture as per the description earlier in this report. The subject of this report is the planning controls, or specifically changes to the Planning Scheme, which will be required to accommodate this vision.

    Council has been in discussion with the owners of the land regarding this amendment for well over a year. Following development of the cattle pavilion restaurant which was leveraged via an existing permit; it became apparent the existing zone provisions fall well short of accommodating the new vision. Council officers recommended an amendment be prepared as a simple and clear way to develop controls which specifically support the new proposal, particularly as the existing zone provisions place limitations on the patrons. It is intended that through the amendment process Council and the community will have the ability to assess the proposal and how it will integrate with the surrounding area

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    KEY ISSUES
    While the concept of a tourism development is supported in principle, there are a number of issues within the amendment and supporting documentation that should be rectified before the amendment can be fully assessed and proceed for Ministerial authorisation and public exhibition. Therefore a full strategic assessment of the proposal has not been able to be undertaken at this stage. The supporting reports are insufficient in detail to support the proposed amendment. The following key issues have been identified:

    The purpose of the zone is for a major tourist use. While the restaurants, brewery and hotel support tourism and are entirely consistent with the stated purpose of the zone, the villa units (hotel rooms) have a more tenuous link to tourism and will in fact be developed prior to the hotel. There is no documentation in the amendment to validate how the villas are to be used. It is anticipated the sale of the residential portion of the site is intended to raise revenue for the hotel redevelopment. If this is the case, it may be more appropriate and transparent to seek a rezoning of that portion of the site to a Green Wedge A Zone or similar zone to allow rural living, consistent with the land to the north.

    The Special Use Zone should not be used as leverage for a residential development that could be accommodated in a standard zone.

    The density of the dwelling accommodation is much greater than would be expected in a green wedge area. In fact the density of the villa units is roughly calculated at 1/ 1300m. which is equivalent to a residential lot in an urban area. By comparison the surrounding dwellings are on lots of 0.5 hectare in size. This raises concerns of whether the scale of residential accommodation is appropriate in a green wedge area? There will be associated traffic impacts on the surrounding road network which is already constrained. The only concession to the surrounding residents is the proposed buffer zone shown on the master plan that identifies ‘no build zones’.

    Given the level of intensity of development and proposed dwellings, it is appropriate that an environmental assessment be undertaken at the amendment stage to ensure the land can be used for the intended residential uses.

    The Bushfire Management Overlay is applied to the site. A report on the Bushfire Attack Levels (BAL) has been prepared to accompany the application, but there is no assessment of introducing significant accommodation / development in this area.

    The issue of the villa units and how they will be linked to the Hotel is not known. The connection could be regulated by a Section 173 agreement to be put on the titles.

    There are some fundamental questions about how the development, particularly the dwellings will be serviced. These should be more accurately addressed in the supporting amendment information. The proposal includes a developer owned and operated sewage treatment plant for the whole site but it is not clear how this will operate and whether there is an agreement in place with Parks Victoria to use the treated effluent as proposed. There would also need to be further discussions with Yarra Valley Water and confirmation with the proponent on the likelihood of reticulated sewer. Also, there is no understanding of responsibilities associated with waste disposal (rubbish collection).

    More information is required about traffic generation and the feasibility of using Clarkmont Road as the main access for the majority of villa units. The traffic generation is estimated on vehicle trips for motels which significantly reduces the anticipated trip generations. It is considered that this is inconsistent with a 3-5 bedroom house - particularly one that is not consistently used as hotel accommodation. Further, it is questionable whether Clarkmont Road can accommodate the anticipated additional traffic as proposed by the submitted traffic report.

    There is an outstanding issue with Parks Victoria about access to the site through the Alfred Nicholas Gardens. Council has conditioned the existing restaurant permit to access the site through the Gardens which is safer for people approaching the site from Kallista. There is little visibility of oncoming traffic if making a right turn due to the significant bend in the road. To date it is understood that Parks Victoria has not reached an agreement with the developer on whether the Alfred Nicholas Gardens entry can be used for the development. This is an intrinsic part of the proposal.

    Under the provisions of the Special Use Zone, it is possible to exempt third party notification and appeal rights for all future permits associated with the development of the site. The proponent is seeking to retain this exemption. If successful, abutting and nearby residents would have no capacity (after the Amendment process is complete) to challenge any future permit applications. The proposed exemption further supports the need for detailed information to be exhibited with the Amendment to ensure a thorough analysis of the proposal is undertaken.

    Environmental Impacts
    A preliminary environmental assessment has been provided. The environmental inspection undertaken by Brett Lane & Associates provides an overview of the native vegetation and fauna habitat present and considers the potential impacts associated with the proposed master plan. The assessment identifies small patches of remnant vegetation (Wet forest) and scattered remnant trees (mainly Mountain Ash - Eucalyptus regnans) and numerous planted and exotic species. Most of the property has been subject to a long history of grazing and has been cleared of its original vegetation and consequently the habitat value of much of the site is considered to be low. Areas along the northern boundary, however, are likely to provide habitat for a range of indigenous faunal species common to the Dandenong Ranges.

    The assessment provides a limited discussion on the potential impacts associated with the proposed future development but notes that the impacts along the more sensitive northern boundary have been minimised. The assessment recommends that further detailed investigations are required including an arborist assessment that identifies appropriate tree protection zones and that this could be undertaken during the subsequent permit process.

    Social Impacts
    The amendment will provide for major tourism development and proposes to reopen a culturally significant heritage site. The future development could have a positive social impact for residents and tourists to the area, however could also impact on these through the scale and density of development proposed..

    Economic Impacts
    The amendment supports a major tourist development which would have a positive economic benefit through the creation of jobs and boost the local economy by increasing overnight tourism and allowing visitors to see other attractions and other businesses in the Dandenong Ranges during their stay.
    There are no immediate economic impacts from the planning scheme amendment but there may be associated economic impacts with servicing the development in future.

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    CONCLUSION

    The Burnham Beeches site is truly unique and it is desirable to see it used as a tourist destination, particularly if it involves the restoration of the Norris Building as a hotel. The use of the existing buildings and development of the restaurants and brewery is entirely consistent with a major tourist facility, as are the proposed cooking school, concert facilities and amenities.

    These parts of the proposed amendment are supported in principle. It is considered the development of 80 residential/accommodation units is generally not consistent with the purpose of the zone and there are serious reservations in progressing an amendment to facilitate such development even at a master plan stage without detailed supporting information. Overall, the information supporting the amendment is considered to be inadequate at this stage for a proper assessment and for it to progress to seeking authorisation and public exhibition.

    It is therefore suggested that Council provide in principle support for the overall proposal however more detail is required for Council to be able to properly assess the proposal and recommend it to be authorised by the Minister for Planning.

    The following is the attachment to the proposal that also sets out in diagrammatic form, what is being proposed.

    2015-08-11-Item-7.1-Attachments-1-to-4.pdf

    So far from being irresponsible, the Council seem to be taking the development seriously and are able to see the many benefits to the local and indeed, broader community. Yet at the same time they have acknowledged concerns and are planning on dealing with those concerns in the appropriate manner.

    Certainly the residents locally have every right to question their council about issues of concern, but talk of 'chaining themselves" to the development which have been made on Facebook, and with the same mindless people who were involved in organising McDonalds demonstrations choosing to again "tilt at windmills", there is every chance of again disruptive protests with the aim of halting a proposal that has much merit.

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    We hoped for sanity to prevail in Tecoma when the McDonalds proposal commenced after all requirements were met. However with a hard-core group still protesting outside the Tecoma McDonalds store over 12 months after the store opened, it would seem unlikely that any sane response from these people will be shown.

    It is hoped that this is a wrong assumption, but time will tell.

    [The picture at the head of the story first appeared in The Australian]
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