THERE’S nothing to protect Inverloch’s neighbourhood character.
The 7 metre height “limit” on new homes and units is a joke, laughed at and ignored by everyone in the know.
And if there are local laws requiring would-be developers to apply for permits to remove the town’s ancient ti-tree and other vegetation, especially on the surf side of town, to make way for their suburban-style homes, they are a spectacular failure if designed to save the town’s leafy green appeal.
Whereas, you can drive a truck through the State Government’s so-called 10/30/50 rule, allowing you to remove almost all vegetation around the building envelop.
While the shire is promising to review Inverloch’s strategic planning documents sometime in the “medium term”, according to an arbitrary timetable in the Bass Coast Planning Scheme Review May 2018, the town’s best assets are disappearing before our eyes.
Cr Michael Whelan doesn’t like what’s happening right along the Bass Coast in this regard and he’s told his fellow councillors about it on numerous occasions.
“It is an appalling trend and we are seeing the suburbanisation of the main coastal towns,”
Cr Whelan said this week.
“Bass Coast towns like Cowes and Inverloch are being suburbanised with little thought for preserving the coastal feel or the environmental attributes of sensitive coastal areas. You can drive around these new developments and quite easily imagine you are in the dormitory suburbs of Pakenham or Cranbourne.
“People are destroying coastal vegetation in a number of ways; clear fell their blocks to build oversized houses; destroy coastal vegetation to get a view they are not entitled to, take over foreshore land for their own use and demand clearing along coastal roads to provide parking near their favourite beach.
“The area is being irreparably changed. Instead of fitting into the coastal environment, people are changing it inexorably toward suburbia.”
‘Wrong, wrong, wrong’
“Attracted by the rich coastal environment people are nonetheless happy to destroy it for big houses that just do not fit in, relying on the vegetation on other people’s blocks for any environmental appeal,” Cr Whelan said.
“The preoccupation of developers seems to be small suburban blocks, fit as many as many as possible on an available bit of land. Follow this up with large houses and paling fences destroying all vegetation and fauna habitat. Bring on the Indian minors and the transition is complete.
“I yearn for a developer who has a sense of design, perhaps cluster housing units and retain treed open spaces for habitat and a sense of place.
“I do not claim any particular knowledge of Inverloch but it seems as a visitor that the coastal vegetation seems to be expendable. The complete destruction of coastal vegetation is also occurring in Silverleaves an area known for its large banksia woodland.
“That is what attaracts people to buy there and that is what they immediately destroy.
“I have not been briefed on a structure plan for Inverloch but I am supportive of the Small Coastal Towns approach to retaining coastal character. We have to be able to do better than what we have achieved to date.”
The shire’s Manager Strategy and Growth, Jodi Kennedy, explains:
“Clause 52.12 of the Planning Scheme provides exemption from Planning Approval, allowing the property owner to create a defendable space around buildings used for accommodation and has commonly been called the ‘10/30/50 rule’.
“It allows for the removal of vegetation within certain distances of a dwelling, depending on when it was built.
“This Clause was a direct recommendation from the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission and was introduced into the Planning Scheme by the Victorian State Government.
“If people are concerned about vegetation removal they have observed or are considering doing themselves, they should contact us in the first instance on 1300 BCOAST (226 278) or (03) 5671 2211,” Ms Kennedy said.