Raise your voice: Thousands of signatures wanted for petitions on Spring Creek promise
THE public hearing into the planning future of Torquay, Jan Juc and surrounds has officially closed, and a community group is calling for thousands of signatures on petitions to be sent to Premier Daniel Andrews before a final decision is made.
The Standing Advisory Committee (SAC) ended its hearing of submissions and evidence into the Surf Coast Distinctive Area and Landscape (DAL) program, including the draft Statement of Planning Policy (SPP), on April 29.
The SAC was to provide its report and recommendations to Planning Minister Richard Wynne within 30 business days – which end on June 25 – unless it needed to reconvene the hearing, but the SAC has elected not to do so.
Community groups including the Greater Torquay Alliance and the Surfrider Foundation are in favour of the draft SPP’s Option 2 for the Spring Creek valley, which rules out development, and are circulating petitions both online and in paper form in businesses across Torquay for people to sign before June 25.
“The Spring Creek petitions will be wrapping up a few days before that on June 21 so there is time to present them to the Premier (or acting Premier) before a decision is made,” Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast branch secretary Darren Noyes-Brown wrote in an email to supporters.
An electronic version of the petition, “Protect Spring Creek from urban development”, is hosted on the Victorian Legislative Council’s website and is sponsored by Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick. It had 733 signatures as of late Monday last week.
This petition, started by the Greater Torquay Alliance, states the threat of urban development to Spring Creek had been ongoing since at least 2008 and “puts at risk our tourism-based economy, the green break between Torquay and Bellbrae and the long-established coastal lifestyle, culture and sense of place”.
“Further, it threatens critically endangered and threatened species such as the Bellarine yellow gum.
“The petitioners therefore request that the Legislative Council call on the government to follow through with election promises and further protect Spring Creek valley in perpetuity through legislation that informs the Surf Coast Distinctive Area and Landscape process by appropriate rezoning of the land and securing Torquay’s western boundary at Duffields Road as a hard town boundary.”
Mr Noyes-Brown said community engagement during the Surf Coast DAL process had been amazing, with 94 per cent of the 3,161 submissions in favour of Option 2, but putting political pressure on Mr Andrews to keep his promise was “probably the most important” part.
“Even though the community has written thousands of submissions and put up an awesome fight against the developers in the hearing, what the DAL committee will recommend for Spring Creek is an unknown.
“The Premier has the power to override what the committee recommend, so let’s give him justification to do that by getting thousands of signatures on the petitions.”