AN independent planning panel has recommended minimum lot sizes of 2000 square metres in Mt Eliza’s Woodland precinct and 1300sqm on street corners.
For almost a decade, the shire has been trying to restrict subdivision of about 1600 big blocks in the area bounded by Nepean Hwy, Humphries, Moorooduc and Canadian Bay roads.
Since September 2003, it has received many applications to subdivide, but has not had a planning scheme to limit development.
Some landowners have taken the shire to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which has refused some plans, but approved others.
The issue has divided Woodland residents and seen the formation of two groups – Mt Eliza Woodland Residents Association, formed in late 2004 to oppose subdivision, and Growing Our Community, formed in mid-2011 to promote it.
It also has seen two attempts to set mandatory controls. The first, known as C87, was thrown out by then Planning Minister Justin Madden in December 2009 after it had sat on his desk for more than two years.
The shire restarted the process in March last year when it asked Planning Minister Matthew Guy to help it protect Woodland via a design and development overlay (DDO).
Mr Guy approved interim protection earlier this year while the process was underway.
The interim order expired at the end of September, but has been extended.
More than 420 submissions to C162 as it is now known were received by the independent panel, which sent its report to the shire earlier this month.
The report sets minimum lot sizes of 2000sqm and 1300sqm on corner blocks. The council is likely to consider the report in December and then send its decision to Mr Guy for final approval.
The recommendations are unlikely to satisfy either Woodland group and there is no certainty the council will agree to the 1300sqm corner block limit on about 94 properties.
The shire wanted minimum lot sizes of 2500sqm for properties not on corners.
There are 124 blocks of about 4000sqm and 96 of about 5000sqm.
Block size was set many years ago when the area was unsewered. Planners decided big blocks were needed so septic tanks functioned properly in the poor soil that did not allow dispersion.
Other recommendations support stronger vegetation controls in the heavily treed precinct and greater enforcement of planning controls.
Deborah Haydon of the residents association said she was pleased the panel report had recommended minimum lot sizes.
“We were worried the planning amendment was going to be thrown out again,” she said.
Ms Haydon said 88-90 per cent of Woodland residents supported “our association and what we’ve been trying to do”.
She was concerned about development of corner blocks. “There has already been a subdivision in Winona Rd at the entrance to Woodland, which doesn’t present a good picture.”
The association was prepared to accept the 2000sqm size “the same as in Tower Rd”, she said.
Per Carlsen of Growing Our Community said the panel report was “a political report”.
“What has changed since the previous panel report was rejected? The government,” he said.
Mr Carlsen said the group would meet Opposition planning spokesman Brian Tee on Thursday “and we’ll see what he can do”.
The group had wanted a performance-based planning amendment not a prescriptive one.
“Banning subdivisions smaller than 2000sqm will not solve the problems of ensuring Mt Eliza remains a sustainable community within a social, environmental and economic context.”
He said it was vital older people were allowed to remain in the community and young families can afford to move into the area.
Former Mt Eliza councillor Leigh Eustace, who lobbied strongly to bring in minimum lot sizes before and during his four years on the council, said it was pleasing the panel had “acknowledged Woodland needed protection and recognised mandatory controls as the best way to provide this protection”.
He was against the subdivision of corner blocks.