THE Liberals say they came up with the idea first.
But Labor made a bigger splash.
The outcome of twin promises over the weekend is that there’s now bipartisan support for stricter planning controls, by government legislation no less, to protect Phillip Island and the whole of Bass Coast from the unwanted excesses of development.
It will happen regardless of the outcome of the November 24 state election.
The Liberal-National coalition allegedly came out on Friday saying: “The Andrews Government has lost control of population growth and unplanned inappropriate overdevelopment which is his only response to it.”
Brian Paynter, the Member for Bass, says he’s been working on the announcement for weeks.
Our sensitive coastal towns and villages, they say, need greater protections from unplanned overdevelopment and uncontrolled growth.
“Appropriate height and density controls and, importantly, rigid and enduring town boundaries need to be established urgently to stop our most prized coastal assets from being utterly destroyed by Labor’s development free for all,” said Shadow Minister for Planning, David Davis.
“The Liberal Nationals are committed to preserving Victoria’s most iconic and natural assets by blocking inappropriate overdevelopment on Phillip Island, the Surf Coast, the Mornington and Bellarine Peninsulas and the Yarra and Macedon Ranges. Only the Liberal Nationals have a plan to protect our suburbs and decentralise our population across Victoria.”
He said a Liberal Nationals Government will move to declare Phillip Island a distinctive area and landscape with established town boundaries under the Planning and Environment (Distinctive Areas and Landscapes Act) within six months of assuming office.
Labor me too
On the weekend, Labor said me too!
“A re-elected Andrews Labor Government will permanently protect Phillip Island and the Bass Coast from over-development, promising to enshrine planning protection in legislation,” the said.
“People choose to make their home in the small communities along the Bass Coast to enjoy a laid-back lifestyle; a lifestyle the Liberals tried to ruin by putting the interests of developers ahead of local residents.”
But they gave it a hard, political edge, seeking to highlight Liberal leader Matthew Guy’s role in the botched rezoning of land at Ventnor in 2011.
“Former Planning Minister Matthew Guy grossly expanded Cape Paterson’s town boundary and rezoned 24 hectares of pristine coastal farmland overnight for a housing estate at Ventnor, on Phillip Island, despite clear community and council opposition.
“A re-elected Labor Government will make sure this can never happen again by declaring the Bass Coast a Distinctive Area and Landscape under the Planning and Environment Act 1987. The declaration triggers a requirement for a Statement of Planning Policy, which will set strict height controls and tighten town boundaries to protect the environment, landscape and local lifestyle.
“The Liberals put the interests of developers first and tried to turn Phillip Island and the Bass Coast into the Gold Coast – given the chance they’ll do it again,” Mr Andrews said.
“Only Labor will protect the lifestyle that locals on Phillip Island and the Bass Coast enjoy with permanent planning protection, enshrined in law.”
The Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, who attended a community forum in Wonthaggi a few months ago, also weighed in.
“History will judge Matthew Guy’s intervention in Ventnor as one of the darkest days in the history of planning in this state.”
Labor said: “Under the Liberals, the town boundaries of Cowes and Cape Paterson were changed against the advice of independent planning panels. Under Labor, any attempt to expand town boundaries in the declared areas must be agreed to by the Parliament, protecting locals from the Liberals and their sneaky secret deals at kitchen tables.”
The statement, they say, will be developed within the first year of Government in consultation with the local council and residents who know their community best.
“The Bass Coast Council has asked for their area to be declared. A re-elected Labor Government will also develop a new town plan to consolidate Cowes within its existing boundaries to stop over development and make sure the whole island is managed as a low growth area.”
They claim “Mr Guy used $3.5 million of taxpayers’ money to avoid facing a judge to explain his role in the Ventnor scandal, admitting he would lose his job if he did. Phillip Island and the Bass Coast have outstanding natural beauty and small-town lifestyle that Matthew Guy and the Liberals tried to destroy. Only Labor will make sure it is permanently protected.”
Well, that’s not true. Both parties have pledged to take the same action.
“As part of this declaration, the Liberal Nationals commit to develop a Localised Planning Statement for Phillip Island to protect against the excesses of future Labor governments.
“This comes on top of our commitment to do the same for the Surf Coast, Bellarine and Mornington Peninsulas and the Yarra and Macedon Ranges.
“We will also restore the original protections afforded by the General and Neighbourhood Residential Zones. These zones, put in place by the previous Liberal Government, were subsequently gutted by Daniel Andrews to facilitate Labor’s agenda of forced densification of, not only suburban Melbourne, but also our precious coastal towns and villages, highly regarded by both residents and visitors alike.
“Unlike Daniel Andrews, we will remove as of right three-storey, 11 metre limits in the General Residential zone. In their place we will limit heights to their intended 9 metres. Our coastal towns and villages should not have unwanted three-storey apartment block style developments forced upon them and only the Liberals will restore these critical protections.”