Here is our response to the development proposal.

A planning application to redevelop the site at 269 Stewart Street, next to the CERES main entrance, was advertised in January. This proposes a new building with 109 apartments over 6 storeys, two basement levels for 142 cars, a small shop and a rooftop terrace. The site shares a common boundary of more than 70 metres with CERES and is its largest private neighbour. It is currently a two-storey building housing small offices, workshops and a wedding car hire business. Unfortunately, what’s being proposed is starkly out of proportion to its context. It is more than twice the height of other buildings in the area, including the surrounding medium-density housing built since 2000. It would remove much of the heavily landscaped space along the front of the site, eroding the amenity and safety of Stewart Street, which Council has recognised as an important pedestrian route.

CERES was approached by the developer and their architects during the design phase of the project last year. The Board appointed representatives, who met with the developers and offered suggestions that reflected the principles of environmentally responsive design, performance and innovation advocated by CERES. Discussions also included reducing adverse impacts on CERES, such as shadowing, traffic and parking. Some minor changes were achieved through these discussions, including an offer to relocate CERES’s solar vehicle recharge station, which would be over-shadowed by the proposed building. The advertised plans include some solar panels, a roof top garden and clothes lines. However, CERES’ efforts to achieve substantial improvements to the proposal were not fruitful, with the large scale of the development limiting opportunities for a more sensitive approach.

This has led the CERES Board to resolve at its January 31st meeting to formally object to the application, with the aim of achieving substantial improvements to this proposal, or enable a more enlightened alternative to come forward with refusal of the current application. This site offers an ideal opportunity for a development that applies the sustainability principles and innovative technology that CERES has helped pioneer. As a national leader in education and demonstration for responsible environmental outcomes, it is disappointing that CERES has not been able to convince this particular developer to better reflect these values in their proposal for the site.

The size of this project threatens to overwhelm parts of the CERES site, and diminish its value as a place of retreat and inspiration for sustainable design and living. So we are now hoping the planning process can achieve a better outcome, by either substantially improving on this application or enabling someone else to bring a fresh approach.

– Jo Barraket, Chair, CERES Board

A copy of CERES’ objection can be found here. While the formal advertising period for this proposal has finished (and the plans are no longer published on Council’s website), Council will continue to accept objections until this matter comes before it for a decision.

Objections may be lodged in writing to Moreland City Council, Locked Bag 10, Moreland 3058 or by email to info@moreland.vic.gov.au

Check Council’s website for the details that should be included in an objection. Planning reference for this development is MPS/2016/734.