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01 November 2023
By Abby Walter
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, VCAT, has allowed a proposed 24-hour 7-Eleven service station to proceed at the corner of Dooen Road and Baillie Street in Horsham.
VCAT decided a service station in a residential zone was appropriate, where it had good access to a transport network and provided community benefit.
It found the proposal would ‘not significantly impact the current level of congestion and safety that prevails on the surrounding road network’ and ‘additional traffic movements onto the road network to most likely occur outside of the peak times, when there is more than adequate capacity to accommodate additional vehicle movements on the surrounding road network’.
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Objections to the proposal included traffic congestion concerns; impacts of noise, light and odours; amenity; and 24-hour trade.
Horsham resident Di Bell, a nominated representative of objectors to the proposal, said nearby residents were stunned and disappointed by the result, which was announced last week.
She said residents did not believe conditions included by the tribunal would ease residents’ worries, because their main request was that it not operate 24-seven.
“There’s no light from that site now so it will definitely have an impact,” she said.
“The expert witness and Spectrum Retail Group highlighted many times the current site is untidy, and the proposal would be an improvement to local amenity.
“The biggest disappointment is the planning scheme does not protect communities from this sort of thing.”
Mrs Bell said a traffic survey undertaken by community members of the area indicated more than 7500 vehicles used the Dooen Road-Baillie Street intersection daily.
She said the process highlighted it was time to campaign for the intersection to be ‘fixed’.
“There’s a lot of people who use the intersection on an average day and there have been three incidents recently that have stopped traffic, not to mention road signs are often knocked over,” she said. “We didn’t object just based on traffic concerns either – there was the matter of pollution and odours – you can’t live next to a service station.”
Urbis Pty Ltd, for Spectrum Retail Group, lodged a planning permit application for the service station with Horsham Rural City Council late last year.
The council refused the planning permit in March.
Mobility scooter provider Action Aids currently occupies the site and it has been a service station in the past.
Horsham Rural City Council acting chief executive Kevin O’Brien said the council was disappointed with VCAT’s decision.
“We note that, unfortunately, the tribunal has also not accepted the council’s request if its decision was set aside to limit the hours of operation finding ‘that there will not be unreasonable amenity impact on surrounding residents given the location is already affected acoustically by traffic noise at night’,” he said.
“The tribunal has included a range of conditions including acoustic barriers, reduction in signage height, traffic management and landscaping.
“The decision, while disappointing for some neighbouring residents, has provided a transparent and independent process for all parties.”
7-Eleven is reviewing the conditions of the permit after the tribunal verdict and said it was unable to comment before publication.
The entire November 1, 2023 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!