For most of the second half of the 20th century there was bipartisanship for sensible
planning on the Mornington Peninsula. Successive generations recognised that
growth was both welcome and inevitable, but that if it was to occur it had to be
managed properly to ensure that the special character of our Peninsula was retained
for the benefit and pleasure of all Victorians.
As Melbourne’s population continues to grow, particularly to the south-east, so too
does the need for access to all the pleasures that the Peninsula provides.
Maintaining our green wedge, and non-urban areas, and the individual character of
our towns and villages is a crucial part of that equation, but unfortunately, in recent
years, the bipartisan commitment to properly manage growth has been lost.
Firstly, a little over 10 years ago, the Bracks Government decided the Peninsula was
really nothing more than an extension of the metropolitan area, and applied
“Melbourne 2030” controls to local development. The council and the community
fought those changes, and although it took a while, were largely successful in
rejecting the bulk of the measures imposed. While it’s certainly true that some
developments that would previously have been rejected did get built, most of the
really intense developments did not get off the drawing board.
The election of the Coalition Government late in 2010 created an opportunity to
again consider the types of planning controls that were appropriate for the Peninsula.
A committee (which I chaired) was established to consider what planning controls
would both best serve our immediate needs, and protect the Peninsula for the future.
In addition to Council planning staff, and the Mayor, I was joined by local surveyor
Andrew Lovelock, and by well-known Flinders resident and Peninsula activist (in the
very best sense) Ranald McDonald. We undertook extensive consultation, and
building on the excellent work that had already been done by the Council, and
produced the Mornington Peninsula Localised Planning Statement.
The statement was inserted into the planning scheme as State Policy, and
recognises that the Peninsula should be planned as an area of special character and
importance with a role clearly distinct from, but complementary to, metropolitan
Melbourne and the designated growth areas.
A number of strategies are included in the statement, which is intended to guide
decision-making on the Mornington Peninsula by every Department, public authority,
Council and Responsible Authority.
Of critical importance was the commitment to the establishment of a strong and
consistent policy framework for future land use and development, including the use
of mandatory controls and standards, to manage the particular pressures on our
coasts, towns and villages.
Unfortunately, the current Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, while not removing
the statement from the planning scheme has sought to diminish both its role, and
effectiveness, through the introduction of the new “General Residential Zone”. This
zone will permit not only dramatically increased density, but also the construction of
11 m high dwellings without a permit!
To make matters worse, there was no consultation with our community, not even
with the Council, before the zone was introduced.
These changes are a fundamental threat to the character, particularly the coastal
character, of the Mornington Peninsula. If this new policy is not reversed the low-key
residential nature of our towns and villages will be devastated!
Successive generations of our Mornington Peninsula community have stood firm
whenever the essential character of the Peninsula has been threatened. It’s time
once again for our community to band together, to stand up against the imposition of
these controls, which if left unchallenged will without doubt turn the Peninsula into
just another extension of Melbourne suburbia.
It’s time for all citizens to work together, and to work with the council, and to make
sure the Andrews Government consigns these truly awful planning proposals to the
dustbin in which they belong.