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Monday, March 17, 2014

Exercising 'discretion' - who benefits?

A decision about a proposed Caltex service station in Drysdale depends on the 'discretion' of the City of Greater Geelong.

Caltex franchisee Milemaker Petroleum p/l has applied for planning permission to build a service station in a Rural Living Zone in Drysdale. Certain types of development (including service stations) in a Rural Living Zone are 'discretionary'. In other words, an application to build such a development is by no means approved automatically, even if it is written and submitted according to the relevant procedures.

The council can (and should) exercise its 'discretion' to refuse Milemaker's application on two 'procedural' grounds:
1. Many local people were prevented from commenting on the application by council's incompetence in advertising it.*
2. The application is full of inconsistencies and contradictions to present planning laws and practices.**

The council should also exercise its discretion and refuse Milemaker's application because the proposed service station in a Rural Living Zone would threaten local 'green space', already under threat from massive new housing estates approved by the council, contradicting its own 'Structure Plan' for Drysdale, which aims to retain the town's 'rural character'.***

The council can exercise its 'discretion' in this matter to benefit Milemaker and Caltex in defiance of its own Structure Plan or to benefit local people (and support its Structure Plan). The choice is clear.

See also earlier posts on this blog:
* 'Council restricts public comment on proposed new service station in Drysdale' [January 29 2014].** 'Service station proposal challenges planning laws and practices' [January 30 2014].
*** 'Council dismisses environmental and economic objections to service station' [March 13 2014].

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