MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire sees the latest master plan for the 512-hectare Point Nepean National Park as providing “a strong basis” for the park’s future use and management.
The mayor Cr Bryan Payne said the shire was “delighted” to see some of the shire’s suggestions in the final plan.
“The advisory group [suggested by the shire] will comprise a mix of technical experts, local interest groups, and stakeholders, and is intended to provide technical expertise and advice to Parks Victoria to assist with implementation of the master plan,” Cr Payne said.
The plan has also been given a tick of approval by the Victorian National Parks Association with executive director Matt Ruchel saying it will “hopefully see the end of squabbling”.
“After decades of bickering back and forth between major political parties and state and federal governments, the final master plan for Point Nepean is by and large a very positive document, setting out a clear and largely appropriate vision for the whole of the controversial site,” Mr Ruchel said.
“The plan comes with a long list of funding priorities, both from government and some co-investment. This will likely take decades to complete, but will bring a consolidated Point Nepean National Park back to life.”
Mr Ruchel said the VNPA “remains concerned” about a proposed jetty which could increase boat traffic into the Ticonderoga Bay Dolphin Sanctuary.
Kate Baillieu, who became involved with Point Nepean in 2002 “when the Howard government was determined to sell off surplus Defence land there”, sees the master plan as “a significant milestone”.
“We fought hard to have that land handed back to Victoria and incorporated into one integrated national park,” she said.
“We won the land back but it has taken about 15 years – and more political twists and turns than in the Kama Sutra – to finally achieve this master plan for the park.
“Overall, I think the plan is good. It has been achieved after widespread consultation and review. It is clear and should securely guide appropriate development of the Park, over the next few decades.
“It’s a very good start but we will be keeping a close eye on what happens next.”
Cr Hugh Fraser said “strong remedial action” was needed to protect Point Nepean from coastal erosion and further deterioration of its historic buildings. The plan provided a better link to the neighbouring shire-managed Police Point Park which contains four historic cottages, cultural history walks, and accommodation for respite and artists in residence programs.
The master plan for Point Nepean released last week by Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio is based on an “optimum mixed use scenario” that includes accommodation ranging from camping (short term and glamping but no long term caravans) to a boutique hotel (“Plan for Pt Nepean’s future” The News 23/1/18).
It also includes demolishing two wings of the 1960s officer cadet accommodation and a former office building and two new as-yet unidentified buildings.
The plan is based on another plan released in 2010 and follows an unconfirmed $1 million pay-out made by the incoming Labor government after it rejected plans for a hotel, spa and “wellness centre” planned by the Point Leisure group and approved by the former Liberal government led by Denis Napthine.
The Point Leisure Group, headed by Portsea residents Richard and Trine Shelmerdine was granted a 99-year lease for its claimed $100 million development.
Fifty-year leases are allowed in the latest master plan for approved commercial “partnership” activities including accommodation (“supported” by restaurants, spas, “wellness” and events); art (exhibitions, performances and residencies); hospitality and retail (“from world-class restaurants, to cafés, to wine bars, to provedores, to markets”).
At least half the estimated $142 million cost of carrying out the master plan depends on private investment.
Uses ruled out within the national park include: industry; cinemas (short-term outdoor cinema and filming will be allowed); saleyards; transport terminals; and warehouses.
The state will initially spend $3.7 million on new staff and establishing camping areas.
Parks Victoria says it will need a minimum $1.6 million annually for “business as usual” at the park and more to implement the master plan.
A $62m “partnership investment” is listed for “ongoing process for lease arrangements, use and conservation of heritage buildings (internal building fit-out)” and “potential new buildings”.
The final master plan is available at parkweb.vic.gov.au/pointnepeanplan.