At the March meeting of the Bass Coast Shire Council, the councillors will make a decision to approve or reject a proposal to develop 930 house lots to the north of Seaward Drive, Cape Paterson.
Unfortunately many of these major developments that are put forward to council tend to fly under the radar, and before people realise it has happened, it is too late.
Many residents from Cape and the Cape Paterson Residents and Ratepayers’ Association have advocated to the council and councillors expressing their opposition to this proposal, and have argued on strategic grounds that such a development is inappropriate and unacceptable.
The developers and interested parties have been lobbying the councillors heavily and have had private briefing sessions with the council planners and councillors.
Cape Paterson, like many coastal locations, has been the target for developers, and the pressure for expansion and rezoning of rural land next to the coast is constant.
Development proposals such as the one presently before council rarely consider what makes Cape such a wonderful place to live and visit.
Cape has a unique village character and amenity that is a major part of the attraction for residents and visitors.
The approval and construction of the Eco-village is the most recent expansion which resulted in the rezoning of 100 acres of land to the west of the existing township, with approval for 200 houses, 40 units and 20 cabins.
This development was rejected by an independent planning panel and the Bass Coast Shire councillors by six votes to one.
An overwhelming majority of the community rejected the proposal, not as a concept but on its location and to the linear development of the coast which was against state planning guidelines.
The former planning minister, Mathew Guy, subsequently overruled these recommendations and rezoned the Eco-village site, and at the same time extended the town boundary to the north to include the land covered by the current 930 lot proposal for the north of Seaward Drive.
I see a number of problems with the development proposal that Bass Coast Shire councillors will be making a decision about at the March meeting. It is crucial that before making a decision on this proposal they consider many of the points raised in this letter and those of many others who will be writing on behalf of the community.
I have spent a great deal of time thinking of the positives and negatives for the Cape Paterson community and the implications it has for the wider Bass Coast Shire. I can think of many, many negatives and very few positives.
On the positive side of the ledger:
• There will certainly be an increase in the rates base for the shire. This is always an attraction for councils but the benefits may not be as great as one would expect. More rateable properties does mean more rates, but it also means more responsibility; more services to be provided; more plant to be purchased and maintained; more staff to be employed and more maintenance to a whole range of infrastructure assets. It will also increase the pressure on the inadequate, existing infrastructure. Bigger doesn’t always mean better.
• An offer of land to accommodate a new CFA building has been mentioned. The CFA is a wonderful organisation and deserves community support, but this support certainly can’t be conditional on the approval of a development application which will decimate the Cape Paterson community and environment.
The negative impact on the character and amenity of the Cape Paterson village and its community will be overwhelming and it will flow through to the wider Bass Coast community:
• Bass Coast already has 17-20 years of land supply and there is currently 245 house lots approved and available in Cape Paterson. An extra 900 houses will mean an increase of 223 per cent.
• The Bass Coast Planning Scheme designates Cape Paterson as a low growth area. A 930 lot expansion is incompatible and inappropriate with its own planning scheme.
• There are currently 915 houses in Cape Paterson, this proposal will more than double the size of the Cape.
• 930 houses could mean up to 3000-4000 extra people at times during the year. We only have two safe beaches; the Bay beach is about 80 metres long and the Surf Beach is about 140 metres long… where are all these extra people going to go?
• The impacts on the environment, Life Saving Clubs, car parking and general infrastructure will be overwhelming.
• The environment will be adversely affected with the threat to flora and fauna brought about by increased pressure from large numbers of people accessing the foreshore.
• The increase in traffic will make travel to Wonthaggi extremely busy and the coast road to Inverloch will be overwhelmed. Car parking will be horrendous.
• The passing of this development proposal, which will rezone all of the land within the town boundary to the north, will pose some inherent risks that will be detrimental to Cape Paterson and its community, the council and the wider Bass Coast community.
If the proposal is passed, and the development plan overlay is approved, the community and the council will lose any future input into modifying the development.
• The Cape Paterson Community Plan says; “We value and sustain the peaceful, friendly, village atmosphere while encouraging community and social inclusion.” This subdivision, if approved, will totally change the nature of Cape Paterson permanently.
• There is an obligation for councillors to consider all development proposals, and there may be an inclination for some to approve the proposal, but is it worth destroying the character of a community and negatively impacting on its people and its environment forever? The community hopes not, and calls on all councillors to reject this proposal.
John Gilliland, Cape Paterson.