Council delays Bells Beach boardwalk plan

December 5, 2019 BY

A TEMPORARY elevated pathway will be built at Winkipop for next year’s Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach after Surf Coast Shire councillors held back from fully committing to building a timber boardwalk.

The shire’s original proposal, discussed at last week’s council meeting, drew strong opposition from parts of the community.

The temporary pathway will have similar dimensions to the proposed timber boardwalk, with the council to evaluate the performance of this walkway and the public’s response to help decide if they construct a permanent one.

The amendment also stated that “the existing concrete pathway to the Winkipop stairs will be maintained until after the 2020 Rip Curl Pro.”

Cr David Bell – a member of the Member of the Bells Beach Task Force – said the council had made the decision after listening to feedback.

“Council is aware the elevated walkway has attracted opposition from members of the community, who have raised concerns about the visual impact of such a structure.

“We will take on board these concerns and not proceed with a permanent structure at this time.”

During question time at the council meeting before the amended motion was moved, several members of the community questioned different aspects of the plan to build the permanent walkway.

Some were concerned about its visual impact, while others questioned why council were considering it at all given the community’s reaction.

The boardwalk was part of the council’s Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve Coastal and Marine Management Plan 2015-25.

Recent updates to the plan also include a clearer acknowledgement of the Wadawurrung as the Traditional Owners of Bells Beach and improved sharing of Wadawurrung history and knowledge, upgraded stormwater management, and changing the steeply sloping gravel pathway and picnic area near the Hammerhead car park to a more suitable surface.

Cr Bell said the plan had a strong emphasis on keeping Bells Beach’s natural appeal.

“Bells has a spiritual significance for many, and as the management body for the site we are fully aware of our duty as guardians to preserve the qualities that make it such a special location.

“People can be reassured the updates to the management plan do not represent a change in this philosophy.”