By Gav Ross
A LOCAL property expert has slammed Bass Coast Shire Council’s proposal to introduce tighter planning controls for low-lying areas prone to flooding and predicted future sea level rise, saying it will come at “a very huge expense” to landowners.
Cowes real estate agent Greg Price described the proposed Land Subject to Inundation Overlay (LSIO) – which is currently on exhibition for public comment and seeks to apply a new range of restrictions to building and development on land throughout the shire – as a “big stick approach” to planning which will introduce further hip pocket pain to landowners looking to build.
“This is another restrictive planning control and it will create another lengthy, costly delay for ratepayers,” Mr Price said.
“The Bass Coast Shire, who are not renowned for giving anyone a speedy answer or dealing with a permit in any sort of time frame, are now looking at putting a further delay and cost on a very large segment of the community for inundation that may or may not happen.”
If the overlay was introduced into the Bass Coast Planning Scheme, it will provide a trigger for developments that may be affected by flooding and/or predicted coastal inundation.
Property owners hoping to build in the affected areas face paying for a compulsory Coastal Hazard Vulnerability Assessment as part of their building application.
This assessment alone, Mr Price said, costs “thousands”.
The shire has confirmed 1940 properties in total will be affected.
Also known as Amendment C82, the overlay would introduce new permit requirements for earthworks, land use intensification, building works and subdivisions located in the affected areas.
New maps created by council’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) team using data provided by Melbourne Water and West Gippsland Catchment Authority shows areas affected ranging from Jam Jerrup to Corinella, land surrounding Bass River, Newhaven, Cowes and Silverleaves, and land surrounding Powlett River, Inverloch and Mahers Landing.
The proposed overlay is in response to state policy relating to climate change, with the government asking relevant authorities to plan for a sea level rise of at least 80 centimetres by the year 2100.
Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Neil Rankine, said the overlay “does not seek to prohibit development” and that the community would benefit by having access to current inundation information.
“Council wants to ensure land owners are informed with up-to-date information regarding flooding to assist in making the right decisions regarding new development,” Cr Rankine said.
“Providing this information in the Bass Coast Planning Scheme allows landowners and developers immediate access to necessary information about flooding so that any affected areas can be identified and considered in the early stages of the development process.”
Council’s Strategic Planning and Engagement Manager, Jodi Kennedy, echoed the Mayor’s assurances.
“It’s about informing future development, not prohibiting development,” Ms Kennedy said.
She said the overlay would not affect building permit applications for structures such as sheds and garages, but new houses or extensions could be required to be built higher or repositioned.
Have your say
Residents affected by Amendment C82 can attend drop-in sessions throughout the shire and abroad.
Ms Kennedy confirmed the exhibition period has been extended to eight weeks, ending May 3.
“It’s a lot of information for people to digest and we will be holding a drop-in session outside the municipality as well, in Cranbourne,” she said.
“We’ve also sent letters out to relevant community groups.”
She added it’s likely the matter will go to an independent planning panel for consideration later in the year, depending on submissions.
Drop-in sessions run between March 23 and April 23. For venues and times, visit www.basscoast.vic.gov.au/LSI