Nightingale stalled by VCAT car park ruling

Photography: Andrew Wuttke

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has overturned Moreland City Council’s approval for the first stage of Nightingale, the planned progessive apartment development and evolution of The Commons, in Brunswick.

The proposed $5 million project was designed with no car parking spaces, next to a train station and bike path to incentivise low-carbon transport and to allow the cost to be redirected towards community features such as the rooftop garden. Moreland council’s approval for the project was overturned by VCAT in October after a neighbouring property developer lodged an objection based on the lack of car spaces. Victorian planning laws require each one and two bedroom apartment to have one car space allocated to it. Councils can waive this requirement, which is what Moreland did in the case of Nightingale and previously, The Commons.

Breathe Architecture’s 20-apartment Nightingale project is a deliberate attempt by Melbourne architects and ethical investors to directly challenge the current development maximum-profit model, in favour of sustainability and community. Hundreds of applicants registered to buy an apartment in the project earlier this year. The project is underpinned by ethical parameters, such as a strata title that ensures buyers cannot resell for two decades for more than a price rise in line with the suburb’s median value increase, in a disincentive for investors in favour of owner occupiers. The purchasers had their deposits refunded last month after the VCAT decision. The ruling has been met with incredulousness in the environmental design community.

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