KNOX could see more medium-density developments near train stations and shopping villages in the future, a planning expert says.
However, RMIT University environment and planning professor Michael Buxton also warned that developers need to be careful the complexes do not harm neighbourhood character.
Knox Council is expected to decide on a controversial proposal for a four-storey apartment complex in Ferntree Gully Village before the end of the year.
It is unclear whether interim height controls of 7.5 metres will halt or affect the development. Knox introduced the interim controls after Metropol Planning Solutions submitted its proposal for the Station Street building mid-year. At that time, no height control applied to the area.
Former mayor Karin Orpen said the developers "showed no willingness to compromise" at a meeting with council officers and objectors last week.
Ms Orpen said she was disappointed at the lack of progress at the public consultative committee meeting attended by about 50 residents and the developer. She said the developers did not show any willingness to compromise in any "way, shape or form."
Strong opposition from residents and business owners also raises doubts over whether there will be sufficient buyers for the 38 two-bedroom apartments.
Professor Buxton said building apartments in the outer suburbs was unusual because construction costs were high when compared to the price of land.
However, he said that attitude was now changing in some pockets of Melbourne, particularly in higher amenity areas with shops and public transport — like Ferntree Gully Village.
The demographic profile of outer suburbs was also changing with older and one or two-person households increasing. "As the demographic alters, there is no doubt that around rail stations in Boronia and Bayswater and the like, available land will be utilised."
But Professor Buxton said developers had to be careful they didn't "destroy the very amenity that attracts people". Ferntree Gully's position in the foothills of the Dandenongs, its views and village atmosphere were elements that appealed to people.
Professor Buxton said the Ferntree Gully Village proposal was different to what was increasingly occurring in the suburbs, with historic facades and shops making way for modern apartment blocks.
He said there were great opportunities to redevelop around train stations and shopping precincts, particularly in Bayswater and Boronia. "It helps the local shops, it concentrates people around public transport so they're encouraged to use it," he said.
Professor Buxton said the challenge would be finding the right site, such as an old car park or supermarket. "There's got to be a lot of attention paid by traders, the council and the community to what's going on."
A spokesman for the developer declined to comment.
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