VCAT rejects Werribee development proposal citing heritage preservation concerns
A proposal to build a childcare centre on vacant land next to a heritage listed former shire hall in the Victorian town of Werribee has been rejected by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), who agreed with Wyndham Council’s concerns about the preservation of the hall’s historic character.
The decision was reached earlier this month, local news source Star Weekly reported, with the case coming before the Tribunal after the Wyndham Council decision was appealed by developer, PHHH Investments No. 3 Pty Ltd.
In the original application to Council, PHHH sought permission to use and develop land located adjacent to the former shire hall, which is now a Masonic centre, presenting plans for a 91 place childcare centre. To be built over two stories, the development application had a front entrance located next to the hall.
The hall has historical significance to the town of Werribee, having been constructed in 1866, being used as Wyndham council’s first office, before being sold to the Masonic Lodge. The development application included upgrades and repairs for the former shire hall.
Although PHHH submitted to VCAT that the childcare proposal was “an appropriate and efficient use of under-utilised land” on the edge of the Werribee activity centre, and that the development would respect the significance of the heritage site, Wyndham Council did not agree.
The Council’s position was that “the centre would not respect the significance of the site’s heritage value and would block the public’s views of the former shire hall”. Star Weekly reported.
VCAT presiding member Megan Carew and member Lorina Nervegna said the former shire hall had “regional and possibly state significance, as the first shire hall in the district and among the earliest remaining in the state,” Star Weekly said.
Ms Carew said although the idea of building the childcare centre had merit, VCAT “stood by Wyndham council’s decision and would not grant a permit”.
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