THE long-awaited landscape strategy and concept plan for the Rye foreshore was approved last week, but not before being changed to make it more acceptable to councillors.
Deputy mayor Cr Sarah Race, whose Nepean Ward includes Rye, successfully added that a car park be retained west of the pier and that the rock wall be included in the promenade design to maintain the historical alliance with Napier Street, or its materials be used elsewhere in the redevelopment.
Also in her amendments were that all-abilities play equipment be included, with a path connecting the Scout Hall car park and playground; the events and markets area receives three-phase power; that indigenous vegetation be planted, and that vegetation and boardwalks highlight the view line, and preserve the natural environment.
However, the plan did not prove popular with Cr Race’s Nepean Ward colleague, Cr Susan Bissinger, who described adoption of the plan as signalling a “sad day”.
“There will be nothing recognisable about Rye once this plan goes through,” she said. “Rye will be like a poor cousin to the Gold Coast.”
The adoption of the concept plan at Mornington Peninsula Shire’s planning services committee Tuesday 18 May meeting means that detailed designs can begin.
Following adoption of the Rye Township Plan in 2017, the shire was given $3.25 million from the state government the plan’s first stage.
Its “key principles” outlined by project manager Elliott Reid and urban designer James Bryan are to preserve the natural environment and promote Rye as a “signature township for sustainability and eco-living”; improve connections for pedestrians and cyclists; improve the connection from the commercial precinct to the foreshore; and “create a revitalised public domain to establish a thriving destination across all seasons”.
The two officers said these principles are included in the Napier Street Plaza redevelopment, the foreshore promenade, changes to the foreshore camping area and the foreshore park.
They said the updated plan would “revitalise the foreshore and provide the most balanced approach” in response to feedback from the public.
“Once delivered, it is expected that the foreshore will provide a great place for all to use, year-round,” they said.
Cr Race was “excited” to be moving that the foreshore plan be adopted, subject to her amendments.
“We are well on the way to seeing the Rye foreshore rejuvenated and revitalised,” she said, adding that Rye was, in some ways, like a big country town.
“While other places have their village green, or their botanic gardens, Rye has its foreshore.”
Cr Race said her amendments “are based on community feedback, petitions and conversations we have had with the community,” she said.
Cr Bissinger said that “redevelopment was the last thing” on the minds of the many people she had spoken to.
“They wanted the [foreshore area] beautified and enhanced and tweaked and made functional and accessible for all. Now, with this degree of demolition and rebuilding, we will not recognise Rye again.
“People will say it is typical of council just bulldozing and concreting over everything.”
Rye Community Group Alliance chair Mechelle Cheers said she was thrilled the council had “listened to the community and supported Cr Race’s amendments”.
“The outcome means parking close to the pier and beach will be retained. Bay views won’t be lost – there will be no used car sales yard look for Rye foreshore.”
Ms Cheers said the foreshore promenade will be “as the community wanted – a boardwalk and green landscaped space”.
“Our much loved Rye foreshore will soon truly become a foreshore for all. It’s all very exciting.”
Lloyd Borrett, who owns the Scuba Doctor Dive Shop, was unimpressed.
“It was a joke of a process,” he said.
“They have created a concrete monster. They have reduced parking by half and made cosmetic changes but not addressed [what was] needed, such as disabled facilities and extra parking.”
Mr Borrett says the planning process ignored views expressed in a 1500-signature petition. “They say they engaged in extensive community consultation yet they changed stuff all from the original plan, and they don’t have to quantify that and say who they spoke to.
“I suppose you could say we have had a half-hearted, half-arsed win.”