Templeton St boarding home splits chiefs

Wangaratta Council’s administrators were last night divided in their support of a contentious boarding house proposal in Templeton Street.

The only Wangaratta-based administrator, Irene Grant, opposed the plan, which has been modified since the council deferred the matter a month ago.

But chief administrator, Ailsa Fox, and Rodney Roscholler were satisfied community safety issues had been addressed and approved the planning permit from applicant Joel Pizzini.

Administrators faced a barrage of questions from the gallery, with one objector, Paula Griffiths, threatened with ejection from the meeting.

She said Mr Roscholler was in “la la land” with his prediction boarding house residents would soon be attending barbecues with neighbours.

The major amendments to the planning application were to reduce the bedrooms from six to five, provide disabled access at the front entrance and create five car parks.

Prominent objector Shaun Lawlor raised the issue of community safety with administrators.

“Many disasters start with good intentions poorly executed,” he said.

Mr Lawlor said they would take the fight to stop the boarding house to the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal.

Mrs Fox said she was “confident that the boarding house would work”, but Mr Roscholler conceded there were some risks attached.

“It is not like a safety audit and numbers just pop out,” he said.

“It has been a real challenge because, for the first time, the administrators aren’t in agreeance.”

Mrs Grant said the social well-being of residents would be significantly undermined by cramming five people into a three-bedroom house.

Mr Roscholler cited the examples of drug rehab centre Odyssey House and a disabled centre, both in Melbourne, where early community opposition had been ill founded.

“I am confident that in time the proponents will look back and say ‘what was all the fuss about’,” he said.

“It might anger people, but I’m basing that on over 40 years in professional life.

“Odyssey House has become an integral part of the Lower Plenty community.

“It really annoys me to hear people talk about the type of people who are going to live in this house as though they are lowlifes.

“They are human beings and deserve a chance.”

The initial proposal generated 89 objections.