AT WHAT stage would the Bass Coast Shire Council raise the white flag and agree that it is not coping well with its burgeoning responsibilities in the planning area?
In the past two weeks, here at the Sentinel-Times, we have been presented with two huge residential developments for Wonthaggi, one valued at $40 million and the other potentially of a similar value, that are not being allowed to go ahead for what seem to be reasons that could easily be addressed by a proactive council.
Sure developer profits are at stake but so are local jobs and income for the front street traders.
And that’s just the ones we know about!
There must certainly be many others.
A perusal of the ‘Building Approvals Current Year’ report to council last week indicates, for example, that there was a lot going on in the ‘Offices (Class 5)’ space last month with three projects approved in the month at a value of $5.691 million.
What are these projects?
Councillors were also congratulating shire staff (and themselves?) for issuing 46 permits for the month when 35 were received. Year to date, they have processed 191 and received 198… sounds good on the surface.
“We must be cutting down on the backlog,” they said.
But there are no figures or details to indicate how many projects are in that “backlog”, or what the value is of the ones they haven’t processed or worse, refused for one reason or another.
Nor is there much reference to the equally important strategic planning work that is still to be done.
We know, for example, that Amendment C82, the land subject to inundation by the sea or river flooding strategic work will be consuming a heap of the officers’ time with the Independent Planning Panels Hearing coming up on October 7.
But what about all the rest including the neighbourhood character studies that have to be carried out, especially in the sensitive coastal towns, before planning controls can be reviewed?
Last week council virtually admitted it was having trouble even starting this work when it said it will be done when finances allow.
Meanwhile, the character of these places is being wrecked by stupid developers who don’t mind denuding their own blocks of vegetation so that they can build out 95% of the land, while enjoying other people’s trees and the view from ridiculously high buildings, complete with ‘maintenance decks’ that soon become third storeys!
Wonthaggi is the location that the shire, and the community, have nominated as the place that should absorb most of the residential demand that is coming Bass Coast’s way, not only to take pressure off the likes of Cowes and Inverloch, but also so that infrastructure and services can be efficiently located at Wonthaggi – sub-regional hospital, education precinct, cultural precinct and the like.
The shire should even be promoting the fact!
We want housing here. We’ve got to have it here to take pressure off our coastal towns.
Obviously the developers are trying to make a dollar, a big dollar most likely, but if they want to develop inside the town boundary, they should be encouraged to do so.
It will fill-in eventually, maybe quickly if the shire would be part of the solution and not part of the problem.
Such things as providing road access, connecting paths, drainage and general amenity in overall development plans are very easy things to deliver, especially when compared to the pressure that is coming the way of towns like Pakenham. For goodness sake, it’s Mickey Mouse compared with that!
If the local shire can’t get the work done in an efficient manner, they should out-source the work to someone who can with the brief that we want to get this sort of development in Wonthaggi and quickly.
We don’t want to be saying “too hard, go away”.
Being able to commit rates money and other income to the crucial area of planning, which is a major driver of the economy, is why efficiencies must be found in other areas of shire operations and why waste must be rooted out.
If the present-day councillors and their shire CEO can’t deliver, they should get out of the way in favour of someone who can.
Doing nothing is not good planning – SENTINEL-TIMES COMMENT