Caravan park provides no net benefit, shire says

February 25, 2021 BY

An overview of the proposed Torquay Caravan Park in Freshwater Creek.

A PROPOSED caravan and camping park in Freshwater Creek continues to get little support from authorities, with the Surf Coast Shire council refusing a planning permit on several grounds.

Councillors considered the application by Graeme Jacobs for the park, to be located on eight hectares of land at 1200 Ghazeepore Road and 350 Coombes Road, at their meeting on Tuesday this week.

The proposal, referred to as the Torquay Holiday Park in the planning documents and estimated to accommodate 218 people at full capacity, includes 61 caravan/tent sites, six “glamping” tent sites, 42 cabins, and recreational facilities.

In their report to councillors, officers stated a planning permit should be refused on five grounds, including “the proposal fails to demonstrate how it will result in net community benefit”.

The much larger, 48-hectare Torquay Eco Park was proposed by BCR Asset Management in 2014 to be built on the same site, but this was
rejected by the council and was not supported by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

The report to councillors notes VCAT ruled the larger park also did not provide a net community benefit because of the “potential erosion of the achievement of a settlement break through the Thompson Valley, which is a cornerstone of planning policy in this region”.

“Nor do they outweigh the strategic work that the Surf Coast Shire council has undertaken to identify preferred locations for major tourist developments, and to establish structure planning for the town of Torquay.”

Officers noted this proposal was smaller but “would result in an economic benefit for the Surf Coast Shire community, however; this does not simply imply that the proposal should be supported”.

“A majority of the original issues remain unresolved,” the report stated.

Other reasons for rejection include:

  • The proposal is contrary to the purposes of the Farming Zone as it does not provide, nor support or enhance the use of land for agriculture; and it removes more than eight hectares of land from agricultural production and does not encourage the retention of productive agricultural land, and
  • The proposal fails to demonstrate how the development would be appropriate according to the Rural Hinterland Futures Strategy 2019, which show the land in a “High value scenic vista area”.

There were 173 objections and one letter of support lodged about the proposal during the public exhibition process.

In a Q&A document sent to this newspaper last week, Mr Jacobs attempted to address some of the objections, arguing that 150 of the 173 objections came from the Kithbrooke Park Country Club, located 500 metres away.

“There is a large hill with water storage tanks on top between the village and our site, which is on the northern side of Coombes Road,” the Q&A states.

“The scale and density of the BCR proposal was completely inappropriate for the area.

“The development is modest in scale and density, is low rise with low environmental impact.”