Three-storey zones causing confusion

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CONFUSION over which parts of the peninsula are subject to new rules allowing three-storey houses followed the first of three community meetings about state government planning changes.

The shire has organised the meetings to explain the changes to residents. The first was held in Rosebud last Thursday night and was attended by an estimated 150-180 people.

A second meeting, at Peninsula Community Theatre in Mornington, will be held tomorrow (6-8pm, Wednesday 26 July) with the third at Tyabb Community Hall at 6-8pm on Wednesday 2 August.

The government’s changes will permit three-storey house of up to 11 metres high in at least 10 towns – Capel Sound (formerly Rosebud West), Rosebud, Dromana, Mt Martha, Mornington, Baxter, Somerville, Tyabb, Hastings and Bittern.

Developments can occur with no notifications or rights of appeal.

The shire stated earlier this month that the change to the General Residential Zone (GRZ) “presents a significant risk of inappropriate development on the peninsula”.

It is encouraging residents to write to state planning minister Richard Wynn and planning bureaucrats to protest.

Lobby group Peninsula Speaks is circulating a petition and hopes to collect at least 10,000 signatures to put pressure on the government to exclude the peninsula from the metropolitan Melbourne planning scheme and strengthen the peninsula’s planning scheme.

The shire is rushing to introduce interim Design and Development Overlay to reduce areas subject to three storeys but these will need to be approved by Mr Wynn, an unlikely event.

Planning lobbyist Dr Alan Nelsen of McCrae said the shire had maps at the Rosebud meeting that showed areas that it said would not be affected by the height increase. “The shire thinks areas with existing overlays will not be affected but the planning minister has stated that the shire has three years to comply with the changes, which means the overlays effectively will be removed,” he said.

“This means all General Residential Zones on the peninsula could end up with three-storey, 11-metre high houses.”

After the meeting, shire mayor Cr Bev Colomb said the event demonstrated the passion and concern many residents feel about how these changes could significantly impact on the peninsula’s look and feel.

“There was an overall agreement that people power is necessary to get the message across to the [planning] minister that the peninsula is not like metropolitan Melbourne and a one size fits all approach will not work for the peninsula,” she said.

In other developments, councillors last week agreed to add the state government’s VicSmart planning system to the council’s list of concerns (and topics at the three public meetings).

Under the system, municipal planners can approve certain developments without reference to their councils, including building and works costing up to $1 million in industrial areas; $500,000 in commercial areas; and $500,000 in agricultural areas.

The move was initiated by Cr David Gill who said he was concerned the government would further increase the number of planning applications that could be approved without input from councillors and residents. “This started out as a system for approving things like fences and carports but some planning specialists fear the government is aiming for up to 30 per cent of all planning to be decided by bureaucrats,” he said.

Federal Flinders MP Greg Hunt has weighed in to the debate even though it is a state matter. Some would say he has a right to comment as his father Alan Hunt, as state planning minister, was largely responsible for introducing the peninsula’s unique planning scheme as well as Melbourne’s 12 green wedge zones in the 1970s.

Greg Hunt said town planning was “a long-term process that needs careful consideration and foresight beyond the next 50-100 years”.

“Short-term reactions to immediate planning issues can cause major problems for towns in the future.”

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