THE Mornington Peninsula Shire has hit out at the state government for allowing the peninsula’s highly-valued green wedge protections to be eroded.
The council is pleading for more help it protects its green wedge, after the controversial tribunal approval of a large residential and aged care development in Mount Eliza.
At a special meeting on Tuesday 24 January 2023, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council noted its disappointment at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal’s decision to grant a permit for a large-scale development at 60-70 Kunyung Road in Mount Eliza, outside the urban growth boundary.
Council also resolved to ask the planning minister to approve its proposed c270mornpen planning scheme amendment as a matter of urgency, to prevent further parcels of land within the green wedge being inappropriately developed.
Despite being rejected by council and multiple appeals to the state government and successive planning ministers to call in the proposal, VCAT approved Ryman Health’s planning application and published its decision between Christmas day and New Year’s Day.
Cr David Gill, who had wanted to appeal the tribunal decision, said the timing of the announcement hampered the shire’s availability to review the decision and convene a meeting to discuss it within the 28-day deadline to mount a Supreme Court appeal.
However, after seeking advice the council resolved to focus its energies on strong advocacy to the state government to express its disappointment at the outcome and timing of the decision.
Council will also urge minister to approve its proposed planning scheme amendment c270morn. The amendment, which is currently with the minister, aims to protect the peninsula’s green wedge from inappropriate urban development and subdivision and includes the rezoning of a number of land parcels from a special use zone to the green wedge zone, including 60-70 Kunyung Road.
Community members will also be invited to share their voice via an advocacy campaign that will highlight the risks posed by planning decisions outside of council control, which threaten the future of its green wedge.
Mayor Cr Steve Holland said the green wedge areas were highly valued by residents and visitors alike.
“Our fear is that this decision is in fact the thin end of the wedge and the existence of the green wedge is under threat,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the state government, the planning minister and the VCAT panel do not share the same commitment to preserving the green wedge as we do. I encourage the community to join us in expressing our collective disappointment and demanding stronger planning protections.
“We won’t stand quietly by and allow important planning decisions to be taken away from our community, eroding such a valuable and significant natural asset.
“While in this instance it may not be possible to appeal the decision further, the fight to protect the green wedge is never over.”
Cr David Gill, who requested the meeting and was joined by Cr Antonella Celli and Cr Debra Mar, said the outcome of the planning proposal would have “wide repercussions” for the peninsula, and would send a message that planning policy can be ignored and “loop-holes allowed to enable large developments outside of the urban growth boundary”.
He said the development was “another blow” to the peninsula’s green wedge, and the council must now focus on mitigating its environmental impact.