A PAIR of Torquay community groups are pushing back against attempts in the Surf Distinctive Area and Landscape (DAL) program by landowners and developers to throw away both options for Spring Creek and instead allow building in the valley under the existing Precinct Structure Plan (PSP).
The Standing Advisory Committee (SAC) has been holding a public hearing since March 15 for submitters to the draft Statement of Planning Policy (SPP) in the Surf Coast DAL to have their say.
The draft SPP presents two possibilities for Spring Creek:
- Option 1, which earmarks land 1km west of Duffields Road for “low density ecologically sustainable development”, and
- Option 2, which fixes the settlement boundary at Duffields Road and rules out any development in the valley at all.
During the hearings, which wrap up today (Thursday, April 29), several landholders and developers – including Duffields Road Pty Ltd and Zeally Investments Pty Ltd, which own almost exactly half of the 247.42 hectares of the land in question; and Rural Estates, which has the single largest landholding (122 hectares) – have argued that the SAC should be allowed to recommend outcomes other than Option 1 or 2, and that this third option should be the progression of the Spring Creek PSP.
The Surf Coast Shire council adopted the Spring Creek PSP in 2017, but this process was frozen when the state Labor Government made election commitments in 2018 to protect the Spring Creek valley from urban development.
The Surf Coast DAL was officially declared in September 2019.
In a joint statement released earlier this week, the Greater Torquay Alliance (GT Alliance) and Surf Coast Energy Group (SCEG) said the hearings revealed the “battle between Options 1 and 2 has become a battle between urban development and Option 2”.
“We were very surprised by the presentations to the DAL committee of developers who ran a significant campaign advocating for a ‘green’ development known as Option 1, but then in the hearing have been strongly focused on having full residential development,” GT Alliance president Andrew Cherubin said.
SCEG chair Graeme Stockton said developers “totally ignored Option 1 and the ecologically sustainable development that would come with it”, and instead “used significant resources to argue for a version of the old 2016 PSP”.
“Thirty-nine Bellarine yellow gums are now at risk even though the developers said ‘every yellow gum would be protected’,” Mr Stockton said.
“Once again the developers are saying one thing to the community and doing something totally different.”
The SAC will submit its report to the Planning Minister within 40 business days of the end of the hearing.
SCEG and GT Alliance are also encouraging the community to sign an e-petition now hosted on the Parliament of Victoria’s website.
The just-launched e-petition, “Protect Spring Creek from urban development”, calls on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Planning Minister Richard Wynne “to fulfil their promise during the 2018 election campaign that Spring Creek would not be developed west of Duffields Road”.