FoN joins with Warrandyte Community Association and Green Wedge Protection Group in a warning to prospective buyers of undersized lots in RCZ in the Green Wedge
Media Release – Warrandyte Community Association/ Friends of Nillumbik/ Green Wedge Protection Group.
Dreams May Be Dashed
Recent property buyers may have their dreams dashed, say local community groups. Two blocks of land were recently auctioned at 35 Flat Rock Rd Kangaroo Ground, one of approx. 3 acres and the other of approx. 5 acres. Both sold for over half a million dollars with an expectation that houses would be permitted. The properties are in the designated Green Wedge area, and three local Nillumbik community groups, the Friends of Nillumbik, the Green Wedge Protection Group and the Warrandyte Community Association are concerned by the lack of wider community understanding of planning controls over green wedge land.
Kahn Franke, President of the GWPG said “It is hoped that the sales were contingent on a planning permit being granted for a dwelling, which estate agents would have likely promoted as ‘dream home, STCA’. (STCA means subject to council approval.) Landowners in this Rural Conservation Zone (RCZ3) do not have an automatic right to construct a dwelling. It is not an “as of right”. The subject sites are undersized, are covered by many overlays (controls) and are unlikely to qualify for a permit for a dwelling under the local Planning Scheme.
The agents involved in the sales were contacted by the Nillumbik Shire with follow up calls by a local councillor pointing out the restrictions on the two land parcels. Despite this, the sales went ahead. There are many examples across Nillumbik of similar sites not getting planning permits to build, quite often after long, expensive battles, generally ending up at VCAT”.
President of the Friends of Nillumbik, Greg Johnson commented: “Disappointed new landowners usually direct their angst towards the planning authority, in this case Nillumbik Council. This is sorely misplaced, because the Council is only doing its job of implementing the purpose of the zone. Unfortunately, many purchasers do not see it as their responsibility to check possible restrictions i.e. to do due diligence. The agents hide behind the old maxim of “buyer beware”, the seller feigns ignorance of the restraints of the planning scheme, and the planning authority is left with the unenviable task of refusing a permit, of dashing the dreams of the poor owners”, Mr Johnson said.
Terry Tovey, speaking for the Warrandyte Community Association said: “The three community groups involved are often involved in VCAT cases, at great expense, defending the preservation of the green wedge and supporting the planning scheme controls. These groups are not alone in their fight. The issues raised here, and others, come up time and again across Melbourne’s green wedges”.
Mr Franke added: “The purchase of these two lots in Flat Rock Rd Kangaroo Ground will undoubtedly create severe headaches and a great deal of heartache for the individuals involved. Perhaps their purchase was to help preserve a corner of Nillumbik’s green wedge for future generations - to picnic on their own piece of paradise now and then? Or, did they buy the agent’s message of, ‘Dream Home - STCA’? Time will tell”.
The community groups hope that the buyers have entered these contracts with their eyes open. They have also suggested that Council write to all estate agents in the shire suggesting that when lots with potential restrictions are put on the market that the agent and vendor should seek some preliminary advice from Council about possible planning and building restrictions so that accurate advice can be given to potential purchasers.
6 July 2018