By David Gill*
STRATEGIC planning for the use of land is the biggest issue facing Mornington Peninsula..
The peninsula is recognised in state planning policy as an area of significance and that there should be only moderate to low levels of housing growth.
Our biggest protection to the character and liveability of the peninsula are the urban growth boundaries around our towns and villages which prohibit any reduction of green wedge-zoned land.
The main planning issues that I see are:
A general lack of understanding and sympathy from the state government (politicians and bureaucrats) that the peninsula is different to metropolitan Melbourne.
The shortage of land zoned for light industry which could be improved by using excess port related industrial land near Hastings.
There is a drastic need to address social housing and particularly homelessness by reviewing the planning scheme. The state government has ignored this issue on the peninsula and has not even provided crisis housing for anyone, including the rising number of homeless older women.
The recent rise in house prices has helped cause, along with COVID-19 pressures, a lack of availability of casual employees in hospitality and other industries on the peninsula. The state government-controlled local planning scheme should address alternative housing for essential casual workers who can no longer afford to rent or buy on the Peninsula.
The increasing use of state government introduced VicSmart planning regulations do not require neighbours (or councillors) being told of smaller developments and take away all community appeal rights.
Agricultural land needs protecting as there is an increase of rural living on previously viable farmland.
Recycled water should be used to drought proof the peninsula and to help safeguard it from the effects of climate change.
Urban growth boundaries need to be maintained and there should be no reduction of the green wedge areas.
Land use compliance should not be arbitrary but enforced when regulations are ignored to the detriment of the environment or amenity.
A lack of acknowledgment of the authorised local planning statement in planning decisions at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).
A wildlife management plan to protect the vulnerability of the peninsula’s diminishing fauna could be a much needed first in Victoria.
The sensitive introduction of the Neighbourhood Residential Zone (C219 planning scheme amendment) to help prevent three storey developments changing the peninsula’s coastal character.
No green wedge land should be used for the stabling of trains if the electrified line is extended to Hastings.
Permits – and justification – should be required to remove trees from within 10 metres of houses and four metres of fences as allowed under state government bushfire prone area legislation. These rules are altering the green character of the peninsula forever.