Review identifies ‘pressure points’

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STATE government decisions have been identified in a shire planning scheme review as the major threat to the effectiveness of the Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme.

The scheme, which began in May 1999 – two years after the amalgamation of the shires of Flinders, Hastings and Mornington – aims to allow Mornington Peninsula Shire to be more strategic and streamlined in responding to the peninsula’s special planning needs.

It was described by new mayor Cr David Gill as “one of the most important documents developed by the council as it provides the foundation for the preservation of the unique environment of the Mornington Peninsula for future generations”.

The scheme is regarded as having been effective in preserving the peninsula’s Green Wedge rural environment, the interface with townships, and the coastal villages.

Now a review of the scheme – which was recently adopted by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council – has identified future planning “pressure points”.

The most damaging was identified as the state government’s decision “without any notice” to change the peninsula’s planning regulations “to allow 24,000 housing sites (25 per cent of housing in Mornington Peninsula Shire) the automatic right to build new or renovate existing homes into three storey ‘McMansion-style’ homes in low scale developed townships and coastal villages,” Cr Gill said.

“The review of the [planning scheme] should provide all sides of politics with an urgency to reset the Department of Planning’s approach which, ultimately, will destroy the environmental fabric of the peninsula for future generations.”

Cr Gill said: “Currently planning policies designed for Melbourne and developing inner and outer suburbs are dumped on the environmentally sensitive Green Wedge and small-scale villages.

“This has now been compounded by Planning Minister Richard Wynne’s decision, made three days before the government entered caretaker mode, to sign off on another major change allowing six storey aged care facilities to be built in residential areas of townships and coastal villages.

“These changes to the local planning laws will increasingly encourage multi-unit development with even greater impact on vegetation, road congestion and lowering of existing residential amenity and environment – the very reason people chose to make the Mornington Peninsula their home.

“Villages and townships … impacted by the government’s change of local planning laws include Capel Sound, Rosebud, Dromana, Mt Martha, Mornington, Baxter, Somerville, Tyabb, Hastings and Bittern.”

Cr Gill said threats to the planning scheme had also been exacerbated by Mr Wynne’s decision to “remove from the normal council planning processes [and] limit council’s and the community’s comment” on the massive Kaufland retail development proposed for the corner of Oakbank Road and Nepean Highway – outside the Mornington commercial precinct.

“The community … should understand that the massive population growth in Melbourne is now poised to increase development pressure on the Mornington Peninsula and its townships, coastal villages and Green Wedge rural areas,” he said.

“This is a situation which clearly focuses on the importance of the Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme Review 2018.”

Cr Kate Roper, who chairs the planning services committee, said: “We strive to protect our townships from inappropriate development that is inconsistent with the unique low-scale character of our shire.”

First published in the Mornington News – 27 November 2018

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