THE public hearing for the Surf Coast Distinctive Area and Landscape (DAL) enters its 18th day today (April 15), and Corangamite Labor federal member Libby Coker says the program must “listen to the will of the community” and support Option 2 for the Spring Creek valley.
Ms Coker gave a presentation to the DAL Standing Advisory Committee, which is running the hearing via Zoom, on Friday last week.
She said she wanted to express “firm opposition to the development of the Spring Creek valley”.
“This is my longstanding view and one that was formed during my 10 years as a Surf Coast councillor and mayor.
“It has been strengthened after much community consultation.
“Put simply, the Spring Creek valley is vital to the natural amenity, character and soul of both Torquay and Jan Juc.
“As more and more of Torquay is cut up for development, the Spring Creek valley is becoming increasingly precious as green open space to be protected for future generations.
“Once it is gone, it’s gone – the valley will be lost forever.
“This is a tipping point for a community who are fiercely opposed to inappropriate development and is passionate about protecting our green belts between townships.”
Option 2 in the draft Surf Coast Statement of Planning Policy (SPP) rules out development west of Duffields Road, while Option 1 allows “low density ecologically sustainable development”.
Ms Coker made reference to the Bellarine DAL, which will similarly determine long-term planning controls for the Bellarine Peninsula.
“If (the committee) approves inappropriate development here, I believe it will also damage the trust the Bellarine community will have in a similar upcoming process,” she said.
“In conclusion, I’m urging you to listen to the will of the community and endorse Option 2.”
Several landholders in the valley have made or are about to make presentations to the committee in recent days, including Rural Estates, which has the single largest landholding (122 hectares), on Tuesday this week.
In their submission, Rural Estates’ counsel Chris Townshend and Emily Porter state that Rural Estates purchased the land “on the basis of many decades of settlement planning in the shire that have identified Spring Creek as a future urban growth corridor”.
“Fairness and certainty are fundamental pillars of the Victorian planning system,” the submission says.
“The process engaged in by the minister and his department in making the declaration and drafting the SPP has not been fair and has created uncertainty.
“Where once strategic planning for Spring Creek was clear, the declaration and draft SPP have unnecessarily stirred up community angst and cost local landowners precious time and resources in prosecuting the same case that has been successfully prosecuted so many times before.”
Rural Estates recommends neither Option 1 nor Option 2 be adopted, but instead that the adopted Spring Creek Precinct Structure Plan should be approved by the minister as soon as possible, and that strategic work “to determine the scope of urban development in the balance of Spring Creek be commenced by council as soon as possible”.
For more information on the Standing Advisory Committee, or to join the public hearing on Zoom, head to engage.vic.gov.au/dalsac.