Planning Update – November 2019:
One of AIDA’s aims is to ensure that, as our area develops and changes, it retains its low-key coastal village character with houses nestled in the trees.
To help meet this aim one of the AIDA committee’s regular tasks is to review all the planning applications submitted to council that are in the area from Urquhart Bluff to Eastern View. This is done to ensure new building works comply with all the shire’s planning policies and regulations and meet our Neighbourhood Character Guidelines. In all instances where there are significant breaches of the various planning policies AIDA lodges an objection. At times this results in us appearing at VCAT.
It has been very disappointing recently that there have been four applications lodged for large blocky homes suited to an urban environment that fail to meet height requirements, view sharing and Neighbourhood Character Guidelines.
In addition there has been an application for a four-storey house that would have a significant visual impact on Fairhaven’s woody hillside overlooking the Painkalac Valley and be highly visible from Aireys Inlet. The proposed tall turret style house would give the owners a panoramic view above the treeline from two floors with shiny glass balconies, steel walls and solar panels increasing its intrusion in the landscape. Planning controls provide for buildings nestled into the trees and limit height to 7.5m while this proposal is 13.2m high. The shire advertised the application to adjoining neighbours but not to residents in Aireys Inlet across the valley. The application, number 19/0122, is still open for objections.
Perhaps even more disturbing is the application for planning approval for some significant buildings works that were completed several years ago without permits. It is our view that everyone should respect the building policies that have been agreed between the shire and the community over many years when planning their build and that anyone building without a permit should face significant penalties.
We lodged objections to all the applications mentioned above.
AIDA’s Planning Activities and Goals
One of AIDA’s major aims is to strongly support environmentally sensitive residential and commercial development by contributing to the formulation and upholding of the guidelines embodied in planning documents such as the Aireys Inlet to Eastern View Strategy and the Neighbourhood Character Overlay of the Surfcoast Planning Scheme.
To this end AIDA works on two levels:
– AIDA committee members examine any proposed changes to planning regulations and guidelines at the state or local government level and make submissions supporting or objecting to such changes on the basis of their likely effect on our area and on our community’s rights to determine our neighbourhood character. Recent examples are AIDA’s response (March 2013) to the Planning Minister Matthew Guy’s proposed “reforms” to the Victorian State Planning Scheme and AIDA’s submissions on VicSmart (August 2013), and the Surf Coast Shire’s revised Structure Plan for Aireys Inlet to Eastern View and their new Open Spaces Policy (both March 2015).
– AIDA committee members monitor proposed residential and commercial development in our area and submit objections to the Surf Coast Shire planning officers in significant cases that do not conform with current guidelines. Where appropriate committee members attend site visit meetings with proposers and planning officers, and when necessary prepare submissions for and attend VCAT hearings.
In the case of residential development, AIDA aims only to challenge those plans that, knowingly or not, “push the envelope” by setting precedents that, if accepted, will alter forever the landscape of the area. For example, development in the area of the Lighthouse has a specified profile in the Neighbourhood Character Overlay, but is constantly being challenged by buildings which are way, way outside the guidelines and requirements. Other and very frequent forms of “pushing the envelope” involve height and site coverage creep. The prospect of a glimpse of sea tempts many to add a metre or three to the proposed roof height and the desire for larger and larger houses on relatively small blocks can only be achieved by the sacrifice of open space and vegetation. Many house plans are submitted with site coverages well above the regulation percentage, not infrequently camouflaged by incorrect calculations.
AIDA’s objections to commercial development are often not against the proposal per se, but because there has been no provision for customer parking and no forward planning by Council to provide the required parking spaces. A significant example was AIDA’s objection to the proposed supermarket at the Bottom Shops, which was based largely on two issues: the failure of the applicant to provide sufficient parking on his land and that the proposed development did not activate the Painkalac Creek frontage, instead turning its back on the Creek. The application was rejected by VCAT: AIDA’s reports on the supermarket decision in the August 2011 and April 2012 AIDA newsletters are available here.
In all cases AIDA’s objections are made in an effort to ensure that future development does not undermine the very attributes that are uniquely “Aireys” and which are the very attraction which brings people to live here in the first place. We should all be able to share this uniqueness and enhance, not detract from, our particularly beautiful landscape character.
– Barbara Fletcher, Ian Godfrey and Gary Johnson (AIDA’s planning sub-committee)
Here are two very relevant quotations from the 2011 Australian Coastal Councils Conference, organised by the National Sea Change Taskforce and hosted in Torquay by the Surf Coast Shire Council:
Ian Godfrey – AIDA member and invited panel member
‘A key element for the coastal hamlet of Aireys Inlet, which has finite boundaries defined by the sea and the national forest, is retention of character. A problem for us is that the planning scheme in Victoria assumes that our planning issues are the same as those in urban cities.’
Libby Mears – Aireys Inlet resident and at the time of the conference a local Councillor (and previously Mayor) of the Surf Coast Shire and Chair of the Victorian Coastal Council
‘Our council has worked hard on neighbourhood studies and planning overlays, but the problem of “one size fits all” in the planning scheme is a continued challenge.’