A PRIVATE 100-berth marina, north-facing beach, dedicated channel entrance from Anderson Inlet, a large tidal lake, extensive nature reserve and up to 125 hectares of new home sites…
The estimated $1/2 billion Mahers Landing proposal at Inverloch, being pursued by Melbourne-based developer, Jason Yeap and his Mering Corporation investors, took another step forward last Thursday night at a well-attended, impressively resourced information evening at the RACV Resort.
According to Mr Yeap, it will be the last of the informal information events for the community before the developers start the formal application process with the Bass Coast Shire Council.
“This is our last informal meeting. The community response to this stage has been very encouraging. We could take it to the council in a matter of months. We’d likely start with a briefing. That’s the way it’s usually done but that’s up to the council,” Mr Yeap said.
“An application would follow,” he said, likely before the end of the year.
This would involve an application for a planning amendment to rezone the 250 hectare site from ‘Farming’ to ‘Comprehensive Development Zone’ which would allow the huge residential project to go ahead.
However while Mr Yeap, the chairman of
the Mering Corporation, has talked up the project as likely to deliver 75 on-going
jobs and a $17 million boost to the Inverloch retail economy, he declined to indicate how many new blocks of land might be created within the 125 hectares set aside for residential development.
“We don’t know,” he said last Thursday.
If, however, allotments averaged 600m2, you could be talking more than 2000
new blocks in an area remote from the Inverloch township.
The South Gippsland Conservation Society (SGCS) has come out firmly against the plan.
“Until last night we didn’t know a lot about what was on offer but it now appears we’ve been here before,” said President of the SGCS Dave Sutton.
“It’s very much like the Tarwin Cove proposal of 14 years ago and at the time, in a paper prepared by the predecessor of DELWP, on the pros and cons, the cons heavily outweighed the pros and the developers walked away from it at that stage.
“Nothing has changed,” he said.
Aside from the scale of the residential development, one of the issues that’s likely to be the most contentious is the impact of the development on Anderson Inlet.
Water engineer Andrew McCowan of Water Technology said channel access through Anderson Inlet to the proposed marina location was relatively stable requiring little dredging “every two to five years” but he admitted a lot of dredging would be required on a regular basis to make entrance access safe.
Mr Yeap said initial consultation had made it clear “that the most important thing was to ensure safe boating access at Mahers Landing and improve the recreational boating facilities”.
He said there was a shortage such facilities in the area between the Mornington Peninsula and Metung.
“Site analysis has also revealed land suitability for a recreational marina with dry boat storage facilities that would provide a safer and more convenient boat launching experience for the community.
“We are working with water, environment, marine, and economic specialists who are advising us on the potential of the site, while respecting the natural environment,” he said.
According to economists’ calculations, if the Mahers Landing project were to go ahead, the developers say it could support an average of 69 jobs during each year of construction and has the potential to directly support up to 75 ongoing jobs across a range of retail, hospitality, boat maintenance and marina facilities.
“Furthermore, an expansion of the population in the area will support a range of Inverloch businesses, services and community facilities, resulting in a potential contribution of more than $17 million to the local economy from increased retail spending.”
One concept discussed at the session included a potential 72-hectare environmental buffer that could run along the north-eastern, eastern and southern edge to preserve and enhance the degraded natural habitat. Environmental specialists explained how re-vegetation and rehabilitation of wetlands could provide habitats for up to 13 threatened species, such as the Orange-bellied Parrot, Australian Grayling and the White-bellied Sea-Eagle.
“We are fully aware that Mahers Landing has been damaged over the years by farming activities and land management practices. Everything we are planning is analysed through the lens of ecologists to ensure we protect, rehabilitate and restore the natural environment, including the freshwater Pound Creek and inlet shoreline connection,” Mr Yeap said.
Should the Mering Corporation move into the formal application process, there is likely to be a number of opportunities for community input, to the shire, to an independent planning panel and also to the likely environmental effects statement process.
Inverloch marina and new ‘town’