MONEY and planning are behind the latest motivations to reassess the status of the Mornington Peninsula.
Officially designated as part of metropolitan Melbourne, the peninsula is regarded as being regional when it comes to some services, such as fire protection from the Country Fire Authority.
This split identification can also mean that Mornington Peninsula Shire is prohibited from applying for some federal and state government grants.
However, if the shire is officially regarded as regional, it would lose the protection of green wedge planning restrictions.
The solution being sought by the shire is for the peninsula to go half way and be designated peri-regional and, hopefully, retain most of the benefits of being metropolitan.
The shire will by October seek the opinions of peninsula residents through an online poll.
Advocacy facilitator Emma Lindsay, in a report to council’s 13 July meeting, said that “the debate surrounding the current metropolitan classification … is a complex issue including significant planning, land use and administrative implications”.
“Most of our community are not aware of the complexities involved beyond COVID lockdown, which necessitate careful analysis and consideration, beyond a yes or no vote,” Ms Lindsay said.
There has been widespread anger from residents faced with the same restrictions during lockdowns as those imposed on metropolitan Melbourne.
Ms Lindsay – who described the peninsula as having a hybrid urban and rural character – cautioned councillors against pushing for a change in the peninsula’s status until it had “a clear advocacy position, informed and validated by external and independent research”.
A timetable would be “dictated” through negotiations “with the successful company procured, to deliver supporting external data”.
“At this point, the shire will be in a better position to share the reasons for our proposed way forward with the community, so they can make an informed decision about their view.”
Ms Lindsay said a peri-urban group of councils had successfully persuaded the state government to let them access the Growing Suburbs Fund.
“This advocacy approach looks beyond our metropolitan status to address the unique mix of urban and regional challenges across the Mornington Peninsula, while potentially preserving the Green Wedge Zone and avoiding other significant financial costs to the shire,” Ms Lindsay said.
“The external support will further inform our case for access to regional Victoria funding, where clear and comparable regional issues exist.
“This will help enable the local tourism and agricultural sectors to reach their full economic potential, where they are currently overlooked by metropolitan focused funds.”
IN its response to the 2021-22 state budget, the Committee for Mornington Peninsula said being classified metropolitan “frequently disadvantages our residents, businesses and communities without providing the standards that metropolitan designation should confer”.
“For example, reduced levels of payroll and property taxes are available to regional areas, but are denied to the Mornington Peninsula, whereas the peninsula does not benefit from metropolitan standards state government funding for education providers, public transport links or hospital services.”
The committee said that since 2019 it had been “advocating for the chronic disparity in public funding between the Mornington Peninsula and our regional neighbours to be addressed”.
“This year’s Victorian budget has not only seen the usual funding shortfall between the Mornington Peninsula and our regional neighbours, but our metropolitan neighbours as well.”
In his July online Nepean Community Update Nepean Labor MP Chris Brayne has urged “all locals … to get out and support local businesses who have been doing it really tough”.
“If you know of a business that needs help or has any questions about the new rules or what grants and support they may be entitled to, please get in touch with me.”
To contact Mr Brayne call 5986 6661 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.