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Vinnies to appeal Hobart City Council's decision to refuse Argyle Street social housing development

Pulse Tasmania
The rejected Argyle Street social housing development. Image / Supplied

Developers behind a proposed social housing development on Argyle Street, which would have provided much-needed shelter for women experiencing homelessness, have revealed they will appeal the Hobart City Council’s decision to refuse the project.

The St Vincent de Paul Society and Amelie Housing last week had their application for a 38-apartment, five-storey building blocked by the council due to concerns about height, parking and vehicle movements.

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Vinnies chief executive Heather Kent confirmed on Wednesday that they have lodged a notice of appeal with the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (TASCAT).

“There is a legal process to go through which is based on planning matters and we are determined to do all we can to argue our case positively and get this critical development across the line during a cost-of-living and housing crisis,” she said.

CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society (Tas) Heather Kent. Image / Supplied

“This project is a great example of the Tasmanian and Australian Governments and community organisations working together towards the common goal of providing much needed support for women over 55 years of age escaping domestic violence and experiencing homelessness.”

“It is important we follow the process.”

The rejected Argyle Street social housing development. Image / Supplied

Amelie Housing chief executive Graham West said they were disappointed with the planning committee’s decision, especially because the council’s planning officers had recommended the application be approved.

He said he remains optimistic about their chances of success in the appeal.

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Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds, who was one of four councillors to vote in favour of the development, told Local Radio as an individual councillor she was left “incredibly disappointed” after the vote.

“I think it’s one of the poorest decisions from council in the time I’ve been on it,” she said.

“I hope they [St Vincent’s] appeal the decision, because I think our professional planning advice got it right in that it should have been approved, and I think that if it went to tribunal, our decision would lose.”

Hobart Lord Mayor Anna Reynolds. Image / Pulse

The rejection of the project sparked outrage from both federal and local housing ministers, who condemned it as ‘appalling’ and warned that it could jeopardise housing funding from Canberra.

Councillor Louise Elliot said she had faced a number of attacks since voting against the development and reiterated she was “acutely aware of how desperately housing is needed”.

She said she voted the way she did because the building was “well out of scale” with others nearby, had “awkward” access through a small driveway and was missing 36 carparks.

“I don’t believe that a project being social housing should mean it gets waved through. If this was a private development, I’m sure the applicants and application would be heavily scrutinised,” she said.

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