THE people of Cape Paterson have dealt a crushing blow to plans for a massive expansion of the town northwards, via the development of a new $180 million residential subdivision.
At a public meeting in the town recently (Saturday, January 14), more than 200 people gave the proposed 900-lot subdivision an emphatic thumbs down.
And with the powerful Cape Paterson Residents and Ratepayers Association (CPRRA) leading the assault, it’s doubtful that the project will get to first base at the March 15 meeting of the Bass Coast Shire Council.
Secretary of the association, John Coulter, said his group was surprised that a letterbox drop of the town, prior to its annual general meeting, would produce such a response.
“We thought we might get an extra 50 people but when 200 or more showed up, we were scrambling for chairs and space.
“Some people wanted to pass a motion but you can’t do that at an annual general meeting, but on a show of hands, no one in the room was in favour of it.”
Buoyed by the response, the CPRRA is planning to up the ante.
“The previous council narrowly voted to defer consideration of the matter at its August council meeting, to the next council’s meeting in March but we’ll be putting together a petition by then.
“They passed that motion “to provide the opportunity for the proponent to consult with the community on the Development Plan, proposed land release staging, and the land supply analysis for Cape Paterson” but none of that has happened.
He said the first thing many of the home owners in Cape Paterson knew about the impending decision was when they were letterboxed by CPRRA the other day.
“They heard how the town boundary was expanded in 2012 when the Planning Minister at the time, Matthew Guy, included a large area of land to the north in the town boundary while also rezoning land to the west, overturning the recommendations of the Bass Coast Council and a Planning panel.
“With over 240 lots already available in Cape Paterson, residents expressed concern about why a new proposal for 900 lots was being considered.”
Mr Coulter explained to the meeting that this was a developer initiated Planning Scheme Amendment so the Council was obliged to consider it but he also urged the three Bunurong ward councillors in attendance; Julian Brown, Brett Tessari and Les Larke to reject the proposal when it returns to Council in March.
He also explained how the planning scheme amendment process favoured developers rather than the community who could not afford to pay barristers or expert witnesses to appear on their behalf at planning panels or VCAT hearings.
He told the meeting that “now is the time for the community to have their say before Councillors make a decision”.
Mr Coulter said that if the council rejected the developers’ grand plans in March, he anticipated they might come back with a more modest proposal.
After the presentation the Councillors mingled with local community members and heard first hand of their concerns about the lack of infrastructure, summer parking issues, road safety and how overdevelopment would permanently change the “village” feel enjoyed by residents, especially when there were so many house lots already available.
At the Bass Coast Shire Council meeting on August 17 last year, the motion seeking the Minister’s permission to start the formal process of rezoning 97 hectares of land (240 acres), immediately to the north of the Cape Paterson township, from ‘Farming’ to ‘General Residential Zone’ was lost on a vote of 2:4 with Crs Crugnale and Drew the only ones in favour.
A second motion “That Council rejects authorisation of the proposed planning scheme amendment for Cape Paterson on the grounds of creating an oversupply of residential land in Cape Paterson”, which would have effectively sunk the project, was also lost narrowly on the casting vote of the then mayor, Cr Jordan Crugnale with Crs Brown and Drew rejecting the motion.
Cr Claire Le Serve, the only councillor to survive the election carnage, voted to drop the project and Crs Rankine and Wright agreed.
It’s feasible to suggest that the anti-development push has at least one of the nine council votes in the bag for the March 2017 meeting – Cr Le Serve.
Ultimately the old council voted to defer decision on the Cape Paterson expansion on a vote of 5:1 with only former Cr Jordan Crugnale happy to see the project go ahead.
It is the view of some, that if expansion must come to Cape Paterson in the future, it would be better to see that growth go to the north, rather than extending it along the coast, which is against State Planning policy.