ADVOCATES of protecting the Mornington Peninsula’s green spaces are celebrating a significant step forward in their fight for green wedge protection.
In a pre-Christmas announcement, Planning Minister Richard Wynne authorised the shire’s proposed Planning Scheme Amendment C270morn to rezone 10 parcels of land – seven of which are outside the urban growth boundary – from special use to green wedge or public conservation and resource zone.
A council statement said the rezoning aimed to protect the shire’s highly valued open spaces from development, resolve anomalies in the planning scheme, and ensure the zoning of the sites “reflects their intended use and location within the green wedge”.
One of the sites earmarked for protection, part of the former Ansett estate at 60-70 Kunyung Road, Mt Eliza, has been the subject of a community battle to save it from being developed into a large-scale residential aged care facility and/or retirement village.
While Ryman Healthcare’s proposal failed last year after being opposed by the shire and rejected at VCAT, the fight is far from over, with Ryman now planning to win approval for a smaller development of 104 independent apartments, 35 assisted living suites and 82 care beds.
But Save Reg’s Wedge campaign spokesperson Leigh Eustace, also a member of the Green Wedge Coalition, said communities around the shire could be cautiously optimistic that the minister’s authorisation of the council’s rezoning amendment would result in ultimate protection for the ten sites.
“This is not a given yet, there will be a couple of sites within that list of 10 that will be heavily fought for by developers, but it’s a great step,’’ he said.
“There is a lot of money involved to see developers walk away from some of these, such as the proposed Portsea Golf Course development.
“But we are ecstatic that the minister has seen fit to put forward this amendment, it has given communities hope, it means it can now go through a formal planning scheme amendment process.”
The fight to save the 8.9-hectare Kunyung Road site has been a long one, with the shire resolving in December 2019 to seek rezoning approval from the planning minister.
A clause in the planning scheme schedule (51.02) had excluded the Kunyung Road property from the core green wedge provisions, based on the property being used as an education centre when it was owned by Mount Eliza Business College.
Mr Eustace said the minister refused the council’s request but invited it to submit a planning scheme amendment for authorisation to rezone the land, which it did, along with moving to correct other planning scheme anomalies for special use properties throughout the shire.
He said the amendment had been brought up in parliament by Mornington MP David Morris, but had been “sitting on the minister’s desk’’ since 3 March 2021.
Last year Mr Morris said the government often bragged about protecting the green wedge, and “it is about time those words were put into action’’.
Council plans to exhibit the amendment for community feedback early in 2022.
Other sites that would be protected by the rezoning are:
Sunnyside Beach off Sunnyside Road, Mount Eliza; 50A McGregor Avenue, Mount Martha; 60 Hearn Road, Mount Martha; 19 Tallis Drive, Mornington (Mornington Golf Course); 46 London Bridge Road, Portsea (Portsea Golf Club); 35 Sunnyside Road, Mount Eliza (Manyung Recreation Camp); 3875 Point Nepean Road (Point Nepean National Park); 74-76 Marine Parade, Shoreham (Mentone Grammar Camp); and 62 Oakbank Road, Mornington (Padua College).