By Kirra Grimes
JUST when you thought it was dead in the water, given its links to the consultant at the centre of the Casey corruption scandal, the Mahers Landing Marina Development at Inverloch is set to go before Bass Coast Shire Council once again in the coming weeks.
Developers of the project, the Mering Corporation have confirmed they’re moving forward with their $380 million project, which incorporates 1113 residential sites and a 200-boat marina.
They plan to present a report to council, going into more detail on their original proposal, in the next few weeks.
According to development manager, Allan Carlsson, the report will contain supporting information requested by council relating to the proposed rezoning of the 253-hectare subject site from Farming to Comprehensive Development Zone and its compatibility with the shire’s strategic planning framework.
It will also argue the case about how the project meets the requirements of relevant state government policies, including the Distinctive Areas and Landscapes scheme.
A final statement of policy on this key initiative, affecting the expansion of residential development in Bass Coast, is due at the end of 2020.
The report follows a community information session held at Inverloch in May 2018 and a private briefing for councillors and senior council planning staff in July 2019.
The latter was hosted by controversial Mornington property developer and consultant John Woodman, whose financial dealings with the recently sacked City of Casey Council are being investigated by the Victorian Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC).
Woodman and his consulting firm Watsons Pty Ltd are no longer involved in the Mahers Landing project and another firm is being considered as a replacement, Mr Carlsson said last week.
“We were using Watsons in preliminary work but given the situation… they’ve voluntarily withdrawn from the project,” he said.
Mering Corporation maintains high hopes for the development proposal, at Mahers Landing despite other grand plans for the site failing to get up in the past, including the Links Group’s $700 million ‘Tarwin Cove,’ knocked on the head by then Planning Minister Mary Delahunty in 2003.
“Tarwin Cove was very different,” Mr Carlsson said.
“It was based around a golf course and they didn’t ask the community what they wanted. We’ve done that, and what’s really stood out to us is the lack of good boating facilities in terms of storage, maintenance, launching – none of that was included in the [Tarwin Cove] proposal.
“We’re trying to listen to the community and give them what they’re asking us for.”
A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes since the initial community consultation in 2018, Mr Carlsson said.
“We are moving. It just takes time. To investigate, get reports done… It can’t be rushed. We’re doing it piece by piece, step by step, and this report is the next step.”
State Member for Bass, Jordan Crugnale MP, was asked if there was any conflict between the Mahers Landing proposal, well outside the town boundary of Inverloch and the declaration on October 2019 of Bass Coast as a Distinctive Area and Landscape (DAL).
“All planning applications once submitted to Council go through a formal process and will be assessed through the lens of the DAL,” Ms Crugnale said this week.