Web_m024013IT’S a weighty document, the new South Gippsland Housing and Settlement Strategy, adopted in full last week by the South Gippsland Shire Council. And it might well be months, if not years, before people living in and around the 36 towns and settlements covered by this important planning document realise how it affects them and the future use of their land. During exhibition of the 186-page Housing and Settlement tome and the accompanying 53-page Urban Design Framework, 71 submissions were received including one from Denise Miller of Jumbunna who chose to support her submission with a verbal plea at last week’s public presentation session.

The thrust of Mrs Miller’s submission was that her 3.5 acre property was not included inside the new settlement boundary for Jumbunna and therefore less likely that she would be granted permission to subdivide or to build a dwelling. Shire officers assured her that it in no way impacted on her ability to apply for a planning permit to build. While providing an historic perspective on Jumbunna and how she came to buy a small block there, Mrs Miller claimed Jumbunna was a perfectly ideal place for the shire to be encouraging rural living and the council was missing an opportunity to attract additional residents by ignoring its potential. A land-locked area, beside Korumburra-Wonthaggi Road, she said, in particular was good for nothing else other than housing and the shire council was inclined to agree with her. But, for the sake of getting this long-awaited strategy moving, the council adopted it in full. Another presenter, Mr Davies from Savages Road near Foster, wanted the council to change the zoning of some of his land from Rural Activity Zone to Rural Living Zone as part of the strategy as the land, he claimed, was completely unsuitable for farming.

But, apart from the extensive list of changes council made to the document between the time it first put the proposal on exhibition and when it was adopted last Wednesday, no changes were made as a result of the verbal submissions made the other day. “It’s very much a case of we’ve got to draw a line in the sand as far as we’ve got… and while I don’t agree with everything, including the points made about Jumbunna, we’ve got to get this show on the road,” Cr Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks said at last week’s council meeting. Cr Jim Fawcett agreed, although he’d like to have seen more low density residential housing land set aside south of Leongatha, along the Bass Highway. He acknowledged that there was some low density residential development areas around Leongatha but with only a few owners involved the town’s growth could be stymied if that owner didn’t want to go ahead. He ended up being the only councillor who voted against the strategy.

Cr Bob Newton said he was sympathetic about what Mrs Miller had asked but his Strzelecki Ward colleague, Cr Loraine Brunt, just back from a serious operation in hospital, disagreed. “There’s no sewerage there (Junbunna) and there might not be enough land to subdivide and have on-site sewerage treatment.” Cr Mohya Davies commended the document to council as not being perfect but as something that would help guide the growth of the shire’s towns and smaller settlements over the next 18 years. The shire’s strategic planners will now prepare an amendment to the planning scheme along with proposed rezoning initiatives for the perusal of the Minister when there will be another chance for the community to have input.