The Cottage appeals to VCAT

By Shepparton News

A decision by Greater Shepparton City Council to refuse a permit to a divisive drug rehabilitation accommodation facility is set to be heard at VCAT.

The Cottage’s Rob Bryant said an application had been made to VCAT regarding a planning permit refused by councillors earlier this year.

‘‘We have the right to take it to VCAT, which we’ve done,’’ Mr Bryant said.

‘‘All objectors have now been notified of the VCAT hearing,’’ he said, adding the matter would be considered late next month.

Mr Bryant hoped ‘‘the simplicity of what we do at The Cottage’’ could be demonstrated, and the ‘‘much-needed service’’ could be ‘‘seen for what it is: safe, secure accommodation.’’

City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Kim O’Keeffe had in July used her casting vote to formally deny a permit for The Cottage on St Andrews Rd.

With the vote tied at 4-4, Cr O’Keeffe’s casting vote had seen the motion to formally dismiss a permit get over the line.

Those against the facility argued approving the facility would lead to ‘‘unacceptable social impacts’’ while those supportive of the proposal argued declining it would go ‘‘nowhere to addressing the problem of substance abuse.’’

It follows June’s council meeting where a permit for the facility to operate under a raft of conditions was not approved, but a motion to formally deny the permit had not been considered.

Concerns had been aired at this meeting around what advice councillors were offering staff, should the matter be taken to VCAT.

The application had originally sought permission to use and develop land for a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility.

Officers had originally recommended the council grant the permit with a raft of conditions attached.