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Rehab need argued

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August 04, 2017

The Brookfield site at Watters Rd, Numurkah.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal members last week overturned a Moira Shire Council decision to block the development of a rehabilitation service at Numurkah.

The tribunal heard the case of not-for-profit organisation ACSO, after its proposed Brookfield rehabilitation centre was rejected last year.

Tribunal members Laurie Hewet and Ann Keddie highlighted the dire need for drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities in regional Victoria in their final report to the tribunal last Friday, ending a legal battle that spanned several months.

They said the necessity of the service overpowered a number of conflicting issues presented to the tribunal.

The initial proposal received significant backlash from the Numurkah community, with some concerned about safety, the centre’s impact on the community, and its placement in an area prone to flood and bushfire.

Moira Shire Council voted to reject the development on the grounds that it was inconsistent with state and local planning policies, did not factor in a cultural heritage management plan, and that the proposed centre would have a detrimental impact on agricultural land.

But the tribunal, backed by information from the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority and the Country Fire Authority, found there would be little risk in relation to flooding and bushfire if managed effectively, and minimal impact would be made on the environment.

The members said they had received submissions with concerns about increased traffic, generation of dust and rocks, as well as the behavioural aspects of patients.

‘‘The proposed new buildings are located about (900m) from the nearest neighbouring dwellings... and would have a low visual profile and will have no significant impact in this rural landscape,’’ the report said.

‘‘The tribunal has consistently emphasised, in considering applications of this type, that a distinction must be drawn between what people perceive the impacts of this use will be and the reality of those impacts, based on an objective and dispassionate review of relevant material.’’

To read the full report, visit www.vcat.vic.gov.au/resources

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