All Bass Coast residents should familiarise themselves with the Draft Bass Coast Statement of Planning Policy and Proposed Landscape Planning Controls developed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).

The documents purport to set planning boundaries, development guidelines and population figures for the next 50 years in the Bass Coast region.

However, nowhere in either document is there any mention of the new paradigm which has seen significant regional population growth occurring as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are three basic drivers of this growth.

Firstly, there is now a limited requirement for people to go into offices for their work, and, with internet services freely available regional areas have become attractive from both a work and living perspective.

Secondly, the long metropolitan lockdowns have made regional and rural areas more attractive places to live.

Thirdly, metropolitan house prices have again hit record levels, thus pricing many city residents out of that marketplace and firmly looking at country Victoria as an alternative.

These drivers are unlikely to go away in the medium term and will increasingly put additional demand for housing within the Bass Coast.

How can a planning document that purports to cover the next 50 years make absolutely no mention of these drivers and the implications they put on future planning and population growth?

The documents also identify Wonthaggi as the major town of the Bass Coast, and as such it will incorporate the largest future development within the Bass Coast Shire.

However, there is neither information provided for the final future town boundaries nor information about the expected future population growth for Wonthaggi.

How can you undertake a serious community consultation process and seek comments when the documents do not provide full disclosure on the 50-year planning scheme for the largest town of the Bass Coast?

Bass Coast residents should also note the expanded role that the planning document provides to the Bunurong Land Council (BLCAC), the recognised Indigenous authority for the Bass Coast.

The Bunurong people, given their clear historical connection to the Bass Coast prior to colonialisation, certainly need to be engaged and consulted in the development of these documents.

It is also recognised that future development needs to be respectful of existing Indigenous heritage sites, and also recognise the potential for identifying and protecting new Indigenous heritage sites of importance.

But this planning document goes much further as per this document extract “Acknowledge Bunurong values, cultural practices and knowledge in making land use, development and land management decisions.”

What does this involve? How will it work? What impact will it have on future housing development decisions, Marine and Coastal Park management, and farmers in the use of land and waterways? Greater clarity is required around this matter.

Submissions to DELWP close at shortly at 5pm on April 29.

Bass Coast residents need to make their views on the plans clear to both DELWP and also to the ALP Member for Bass Jordan Crugnale.

Brett Marchant, Cape Paterson