IT’S not up to the planning minister to make a decision on a controversial Cape Paterson development.
That was the message from Bass Coast Shire councillors last week, in approving the first stage of a process to look at rezoning land north of Cape Paterson to create a 480-lot estate over 53 hectares.
Councillors spoke at length of their concerns that if they rejected the Planning Scheme Amendment application, it would land on the desk of the planning minister and the shire would lose control over the process.
“Given that the town boundary already surrounds the land, there’s a very real chance that the minister would simply approve it and remove any control whatsoever from council and the ratepayers,” Cr Stephen Fullarton said.
That outcome is “potentially alarming” for councillors as they represent the community, he said.
Cr Julian Brown, speaking on his own amended motion to defer the application for one month, said people aren’t usually familiar with the Planning Scheme Amendment process or development plans.
“So why have a development plan in the first place? Well, traditionally, planning applications have come in one by one over time and an area can lack things like green space, sporting facilities and sensible road system.”
But a development plan has a “big picture” approach and plans for the future, he said.
If the proposal was to go ahead, the Bunurong Ward councillor said he’d like to see a limit on the number of blocks that can be sold per year.
“If the plan was to develop 480 [lots] all at once, I’d vote against it,” Cr Brown said.
But his view on deferring the application wasn’t supported by his colleagues.
Deputy Mayor Cr Brett Tessari emphasised council was only looking to start the process and there will be chances at certain stages to knock back the application.
“I can’t see what delaying it for one month is going to do,” he said, stressing they were only starting the process of the amendment and that 480 lots weren’t going to just appear overnight.
“I’m still not to be convinced that Cape Paterson needs this sub-division. In fact, far from it.
“I just want to see this process done and either tick it off, or scrap it. But don’t keep delaying it.”
Cr Tessari said he’s willing to work with the developer and listen to the community to get a result that’s satisfactory for everyone.
“I have no intention of destroying what is a great little coastal town,” he said, adding that he’s been holidaying in Cape Paterson for 48 years.
Cr Brown was the only councillor left voting in favour of his motion to defer a decision on the application for one month.
Another amendment was put forward by Cr Les Larke, which he explained as a “more commercial” approach to the development.
He suggested reaching a middle ground between council, the community and the developer to create a proposal which locked in permit conditions.
Cr Larke’s motion was knocked back.
The council successfully moved the original recommendation to begin the first stage of the Planning Scheme Amendment, without the support of Cr Michael Whelan and Cr Larke.
The first stage of the amendment is community consultation. Once all the submissions for the development are collected, they’ll be provided to the council in a report, where councillors will be asked to make a decision on abandoning or continuing the application.
If they choose to continue, the council can ask for an independent planning panel, who will look at the submissions and provide the council with recommendations.
Council would again have the chance to abandon or continue with the application after they receive the report from the panel.
A shire officer predicted the planning application for the development would go on exhibition in four to five months’ time.