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Permit Granted for Eltham Brougham Street Cohousing Project

Architectural render prepared by DKO Architecture

We are thrilled that the Brougham Street Cohousing development has been given the green light to proceed by the VCAT, after Nillumbik Shire Council refused the planning application in October 2023. 

We congratulate Property Collectives and the Brougham Street Cohousing group for their persistence and dedication to the project vision. We have enjoyed working alongside our dedicated consultant team and playing our part in the process. 

There were a number of pertinent points made in the Brougham Street Cohousing Pty Ltd v Nillumbik SC [2024] VCAT 360 decision which are important amid our housing supply and affordability crisis.

Firstly, the VCAT decision recognised the innovative approach the project took in dealing with the challenge of providing more diverse housing opportunities and specifically in forming a housing co-operative to develop a series of dwellings around a plethora of communal facilities. 

Some key quotes from the VCAT decision from Members Deidun and Axford include: 

“In a system where a development only needs to meet an appropriate or reasonable standard in order to gain a planning permit, it is our view that this proposal goes well beyond such measures. We have found that the proposal is an excellent response to its context both in terms of policy and its physical context.”

“The proposed addresses the call for diversity in housing supply that is one of the key planks of the Nillumbik Planning Scheme. In our view, this is a project that could and should have been supported and fast tracked because of the qualities we have outlined above. That instead this project was met with substantial delays and opposition, is part of a wider trend we are observing, that will fail to produce appropriate housing projects that can start to address the existing shortfall of housing supply presently being experienced across Metropolitan Melbourne.” 

How on earth are we going to achieve the ambitious housing targets set out in the Housing Statement if great projects like this have to experience such significant delays?

Councils and State Government have an opportunity to support the delivery of community-led, deliberative development models such as cohousing, and work together with proponents to find new ways to get great outcomes for the streets, towns and cities we love. 

Community-led projects are fundamentally innovative and require an evolution in thinking about how housing diversity and housing affordability can be delivered. 

Echelon Planning has been an advocate for the deliberative development model having been involved with a number of development and research projects on the topic. Deliberative development provides an alternative way to fund, design and deliver housing which is specifically designed for the future residents, not an investor market. 

We hope this case provides inspiration for future deliberative development proponents, and offers food for thought that challenges the mindset of residents, funders, investors, landowners, builders and government looking to do things differently.


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