An innovative apartment development in Melbourne's inner north whose planning approval was rescinded by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) due to insufficient car parks has since been re-approved by local government.
The designers of the twenty-unit Nightingale apartment complex, Breathe Architecture, sought to create a more affordable and sustainable residential development in the inner-north Melbourne suburb of Brunswick via the elimination of certain features that many are beginning to consider superfluous in denser, urban environments, such as a large number of car parks and individual laundries.
After obtaining approval from Moreland City Council in February 2015 the project’s permit was subsequently revoked by VCAT, who chafed at the notion of an urban apartment development with too few car parks, despite the project’s location being close to train stations and trams as well as cycling paths.
VCAT senior member Russell Byard said in his ruling that car parks would be needed even if the initial set of residents did not possess vehicles of their own, given the tremendous benefits of private cars and associated parking spots for urbanites and his own comparatively dim opinion of public transit.
“Over the last century, private cars have been liberating to many people, particularly the less well to do, who could never afford private transport by means of horses,” Byard said in his ruling.
“Public transport is a less convenient option for visitors…someone visiting from North Balwyn or North Beaconsfield wanting to visit a child, friend or grandchild…is likely to use a car on the basis that public transport is not available.”
Despite Byard’s objections the Moreland City Council has since given its emphatic approval to the project, voting unanimously in favour of an amended planning application which includes a total of three car park spaces.
Councillor Megan Hopper expressed reluctance at the need to include the three car spaces in order to green light the development, as well as her hope that VCAT would be amenable the future possibility of car park free developments in those circumstances where residents feel them to be unnecessary.
Some observers believe that urban car parking should not be expanded given the congestion caused by high levels of private vehicle deployment, as well as a potential future trend towards increased usage of public transit or even automated vehicles.