Committee for Lorne – A word from the Chairman
Last week I spoke with regard to “short term pause” of the Lorne Strategy Review and totally supported the move to ensure all relevant information was on the table. I reviewed the Agenda for the forthcoming Council meeting which included two consultants reports that formed part of the preliminary investigations and background information for forecasting future needs. I now believe that some questions should be asked.
The two reports were The Economic Assessment for the Lorne Structure Plan 2003 and the Bushfire Assessment for the Lorne Strategy Review. I have read the former in full and would suggest that everyone who has an interest in Lorne should also read it. Whilst the focus of this report is on the retail, commercial and industrial sector of our town, the findings to me are certainly not aligned to my “uneducated” analysis of Lorne over many years.
As an entrée to my concerns allow me to share with you how the report identified the following scenarios for retail and commercial development over the period to 2036. By way of a timeline comparison cast your mind back to 2000 and how Lorne was then, leap frog forward half the journey to 2019 and you have a snap shot of our commercial and retail needs and growth till now.
Using such “scenario planning” for population and visitor growth and trends led the consultants to form the following opinions. Assuming a high growth scenario from this matrix, the report recommends that an additional 5750 sqm of
retail shops (that’s 57 shops of 100sqm or a mix thereof), 1,900 sqm of non-retail space and 1100 new hotel rooms or holiday houses/apartments to accommodate visitors between now and 2036.
In this same report a more moderate approach is to recommend the future need for 1800 sqm of retail shops (18 shops of 100 sqm or a mix thereof), 600 sqm of retail space, 300 new hotel rooms or holiday houses/apartments to accommodate our visitors. Where this report fails from my personal perspective is that it doesn’t detail, take account or acknowledge the existing infrastructure that we have in place that caters for 18,000 to 20,000 people through the period from Boxing Day to end of January and yet struggles to maintain ongoing commercial viability for business operators.
As I am restricted by the space of this column, I have only tabled one example of the concerns that I hold regarding a report that is a major document helping to frame the future planning of our town. Perhaps the “short term pause” I alluded to last week may need to be a little longer, but we do need is to be comfortable that the information we use to plan our future is correct. If you would like a copy of this report send a request to me on firstname.lastname@example.org A continuing reminder that our next community luncheon is scheduled for the Friday prior to the AFL Grand Final. We would love you to spread the word and go out of your way to invite others that may attend for the first time, so put the date in your diary – Friday Sept 27 and rsvp to email@example.com.