RYMAN Healthcare is confident the special use zoning of its proposed Mt Eliza retirement village site will allow it to build 300 two-and-three-bedroom apartments housing 500 people.
The company last week reiterated its position that the former Moondah Estate – which it bought for almost $40 million in 2016 – was not constrained by green wedge development restrictions.
It believes the 8.9 hectare site, previously home to the Melbourne Business School, is ideal for a proposed aged care ward, high dependency ward, and 10 four-storey apartment blocks.
Others disagree. Mornington MP David Morris, who went to both of Ryman’s community information sessions, said the Kunyung Road site was outside the urban growth boundary and, therefore, was in the green wedge.
“While the zoning is special use, there is no doubt about the intent of the zoning when it was created,” he said.
“It was designated for low-key developments, such as the former business school, which had limited accommodation and a place of worship.
“Ryman are trying to exploit a loophole that previously allowed low-key use and limited accommodation as a basis for their development.”
While Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors are awaiting Ryman’s planning application before commenting, Mr Morris said the shire’s planning services committee on 19 November had voted to write to planning minister Richard Wynne requesting a ministerial amendment to allow the rezoning of the Ryman land from special use to green wedge.
The mayor Cr David Gill said Ryman had the opportunity to put forward plans for a “different kind of development” than previously anticipated. “This will be decided by the council or, ultimately, the state government,” he said. “It could be a complex argument in a policy sense.”
The shire’s executive manager planning services David Bergin said: “The land is outside the urban growth boundary and, therefore, it is considered as green wedge land. This is not to be confused with the various types of zones that exist within the green wedge, which includes the site in question, which is a special use zone.”
Mr Bergin did not elaborate on whether the proposed development would comply with the site’s zoning, although planning scheme documents – provided by Ryman – show that a permit is required in a special use zone for a “retirement village in association with a place of worship”.
Mt Eliza Association for Environmental Care president Des Berry said Ryman “continues to pretend the existing permit allows development”.
“We need clear clarification of what [the special use zone] allows,” he said. “The clear intent of Ryman Health is very different to the education permit issued to the previous landowner.
“It is our understanding that [special use permit] was issued under education permit – not an extensive apartment complex.”