The application for redevelopment of the Phillip Island airport gives the community a chance to change the way rural land is developed.
Up until now, when a property is rezoned it is all one way.
The developer maximizes his investment and the community usually gets five per cent of land for recreation or money in lieu.
The airport is outside the town boundary and there is no obligation for consideration of the recent informal request for 17ha public open space in return for 300 houses.
This is the beginning of discussions and a more realistic beginning is 150 houses and 40ha open space.
Woolamai has 2500 properties and is the biggest subdivision on the island.
Like all other areas, it was poorly designed without consideration for town planning principles and apart from the magnificent coast on two sides, it has little recreation facilities for the residents.
It is hard to support the concept that we need facilities as our ageing community will use the coasts in winter for social engagement and recreation.
150 houses is an increase of six per cent.
If this basic starting point with traffic access away from Tampa Road through Veterans Way was agreed, then an increase of 50 houses may result in a new roundabout at Woolamai – the island’s most dangerous intersection.
Another 50 houses may be the state’s best skateboard park.
There is a risk of the airport setting a precedent, but it leads to a discussion of what we want the island to look like.
The town boundaries have evolved; they were not defined with a big picture approach.
There is an argument for some fine tuning; for example, selling sections of Mitchell Reserve at Smiths to pay for the purchase a central block for a town square.
This concept was not considered in the frenzy of subdivision in the 1950s.
The normal reaction for Woolamai residents is to say ‘no way’.
This leads to the very real possibility of a future council or Planning Minister in five years to approve 500 houses and the community gets 3ha.
This is where ‘get a bit and give a bit’ begins. The power lies with the community.
Most owners of rural land would like to develop their property.
Town boundaries are always being stretched.
For example, the 200 lot residential subdivision behind the chocolate factory that will be in clear view from Churchill Island is now inside the town boundary.
Who of us approved this?
Our first Tourism Strategy is due for completion in 2016 and it is likely to include recommendations for linked pathways around the island and extensive wildlife corridors.
Most of the land is privately owned and while there are a range of uses of rural land that are permitted with a Planning Permit, there is no obligation for owners to give land for wildlife, amenity of community use.
This must change. Get a bit, give a bit.
The last dairy farm on the island ceased operation last year.
Farming is now about agri-business with large farms.
As the typical island 80 acre property becomes less viable for farming, we must consider this valuable 75 per cent of the island.
It is ready to be integrated as part of the future off-peak recreation needs of Melbourne.
The spacious rural amenity of farms is essential for our future but it should also be used for vegetation and nature trails.
In return the owner gets a tourism facility on two acres, for example.
As Melbourne’s population doubles over the next 30 years, we move into new territory.
As a community we can either lead from the front or keep saying ‘no’ and get done to.
Can anyone remember the sequence of events at Cadogan?
There was no semblance of strategic planning or community inclusion by the Minister.
The airport has years of public input ahead of it.
Let’s begin with genuine consideration for this and every site to see what power we really can achieve in determining the best outcome for the island.
Precedent has already been set on the airport where the developer has had three meetings with the community and has not yet submitted a proposal.
This is the way it should be.
Council officers are here to implement what the community wants in the context of the Planning Scheme and the Minister has the final say.
The community has the power, if it uses it rationally.
Cr Phil Wright, Smiths Beach