At their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday evening, Council approved three planning applications for the Middleton Fields development but required some amendments including tree protection zones to protect heritage trees on and adjacent to the site.

The Middleton Fields development stretches from Smith Street in the west to the Midland Highway on the east and from Raglan Street in the south to Wombat Park in the north. (See Masterplan illustration below.)

Several Councillors spoke in favour of the planning applications as amended and noted the cooperative discussions which had taken place with the developer in responding to objections.

Further development of a previously approved superlot at 17 Smith Street was considered. The application was for the staged subdivision and development of a 31 unit ecovillage on the site including four units designated as affordable housing.

The four one-bedroom homes will be owned and operated by Women’s Property Initiatives, fulfilling an essential requirement of the original permit for the site.

Council waived the requirement for 10 parking spaces to be replaced by garden space within the development. Council also require height reductions of some of the units and the inclusion of accessibility options.

Another part of the Middleton Fields Estate development known as 4719 Midland Highway was for an eight lot subdivision including road access to Midland Highway. The road access would require the removal of two cedar trees in the Avenue of Honour on Midland Highway.

Objections to the proposal were related to the removal of the trees and the potential impact on another significant Manna gum just to the north of the development.

Masterplan of the Middleton Fields development.

Council passed an amendment which required altered building envelopes and which included Tree Protection Zones for the Cedar trees along Midland Highway and the Manna gum to the north of the development. Council will allow removal of one of the cedar trees to enable road access to the development.

A third application related to the Middleton Fields development is known as 9 Raglan Street. The application was for a 20 lot subdivision including road access to Raglan Street. Again, Council required that the plans be amended to protect an Avenue of Honour tree which would have been removed to provide road access.

The meeting was interrupted at several points by vocal objectors in the audience. Speakers were not allowed to address Council on planning matters as a result of processes introduced last year.

The new process allows residents to be heard on planning matters at a briefing session which is less formal and provides greater scope for interaction. It also provides sufficient time for applicants to understand objections and, if appropriate, address them with amended plans.

Two speakers addressed Council earlier in the meeting about the cultural and heritage values of trees. While within the rules not to speak of planning matters, their remarks were clearly directed at planning issues before Council.

A full listing of the conditions placed on approvals is available in the Council Meeting Minutes.

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