“DISAPPOINTED and concerned” is how Mornington Peninsula mayor Cr Bev Colomb feels about state Planning Minister Richard Wynne’s refusal to place interim planning controls over large-scale developments.
The move has also angered Liberal Mornington MP David Morris who has warned the government’s stance will see the peninsula become “just an extension of the urban sprawl”.
The shire wants a design and development (DDO) planning overlay to “combat” changes made by the state government to general residential zone (GRZ) provisions which allow construction of buildings up to three storeys – or 11 metres – in height.
“The DDO would have protected around 24,000 properties from the state government’s changes by allowing for development up to two storeys, not three storeys, in residential areas across the townships of Capel Sound, Rosebud, Dromana, Mt Martha, Mornington, Baxter, Somerville, Tyabb, Hastings and Bittern,” Cr Colomb said.
“We are extremely disappointed about the refusal. The state government’s change to three storeys within the general residential zone, in the absence of additional planning controls, presents a significant risk of inappropriate development on the peninsula.”
Cr Colomb said the “council, together with our community, [has] worked very hard to have our voices heard about these detrimental planning changes”.
Cr Colomb said the shire would “continue to act on behalf of the community to prevent development that is inconsistent with the peninsula and its low-scale character”.
“Our shire-wide Mornington Peninsula Housing and Settlement Strategy 2017 will help protect us from future development like this, by outlining our direction for future housing and population growth on the peninsula over the next 15 years, and will assist with good planning for many years to come,” she said.
“I encourage the local community to take the opportunity to provide input into planning matters. This is a great opportunity to have your voices heard about future development on the peninsula.”
A former Mornington shire president, Mr Morris said government changes to the planning scheme would have an “immediate impact” on blocks where there are no development overlays, such as parts of Mornington and Mt Martha east of Nepean Highway, between Main St and Craigie Rd, and other areas across the peninsula.
“The new rules allow buildings of three storeys instead of two, and encourage inner suburban density,” Mr Morris, who is now MP for Mornington and the Liberal opposition’s spokesman on local government, said.
“Wording in the zone ordinance to support moderate growth has been removed. The purpose of the zone is to now encourage growth – full stop. Those rules apply now.”
Mr Morris said the effect of the changes to the planning scheme over the next two years would be to the overlays that “currently protect three quarters of our residential areas”.
“The future of the overlays is in doubt, and the main premise on which they are founded is removed,” he said.
Mr Morris said until recently, one of the purposes of the zone was to implement adopted neighbourhood character guidelines. “This has been removed, and replaced by some vague words about neighbourhood character objectives,” he said.
“There is a real risk that VCAT will now rule that the overlays are inconsistent with the zone. Even if that does not occur, the government requires overlays to be reviewed, and re-written in a manner consistent with the zone – in other words, to encourage growth.”
Mr Morris said the Mornington Peninsula Localised Planning Statement intended a “clear separation” of the peninsula from metropolitan Melbourne.
“The planning controls in place prior to the [recent] changes were intended to allow ongoing development in a manner consistent with each residential area,” he said.
“While the zoning for most residential areas is the same , general residential, the actual controls vary significantly depending on where your house is located through the application of overlays,” he said.
“Some examples are the Mt Eliza Woodlands, Ranelagh Estate, Beleura Hill, Mt Martha south of Sunshine Creek and all residential areas adjoining the coast. Altogether, nearly three-quarters of residential land is currently protected by overlays.
“In most areas overlays specify the minimum block size, how many houses can be built on a block, how many storeys they can be.”
Mr Morris said if the changes were not reversed “we must consider that policy abandoned”.
“Our peninsula towns will become just an extension of the urban sprawl.”