Aireys Inlet Commercial Zone Design Guidelines
The Surf Coast Shire, through its contractor Hansen Partnership, consulted the community to determine guidelines for future development of our top and bottom shops. The flnal draft Design Guidelines – Aireys Inlet Commercial Areas was adopted by the council in June, 2009.
The flrst step in implementing the guideline was for council offlcers to draft an amendment (C55) to the Surf Coast Planning Scheme. This was done, exhibited in March-April2010 and received four requests for modification. To sort out the most contentious concerns, council referred the issue to Planning Panels Victoria for a hearing.
The September hearing heard presentations from the Surf Coast Shire, AIDA and a barrister hired by the owners of 73 (Kalbaru Construction warehouse), 83 (former hardware store) and 85 (former surf shop) Great Ocean Road (GOR). Much of the discussion related to issues at the bottom shops including whether maximum height requirements (8 m) were needed, whether the 3 m GOR setback was appropriate, whether pathways and views from the GOR to the Painkalac Creek were needed and whether developments should have active frontages to both the GOR and the Painkalac Creek. All these points came out of the community consultation and were opposed by the commercial interests. Panel Chair Kathryn Mitchell will determine how the new developments in our commercial areas will appear and function.
Of immediate interest are the current planning applications for 73 and 83 GOR. However, the fate of 77 GOR (former garden supplies) is an obvious concern. These three very large blocks need to be developed to revitalise the bottom shops. They provide excellent opportunities to develop community services in a sensitive coastal shopping centre.
The conduct of a hearing is strictly regulated and only expert witnesses can be cross-examined. This can lead to humour and frustration for participants. When the barrister reported that the ice cream shop at 89 GOR had failed despite its location, there was a gasp then laughter from community members in the audience. The observation that it was rarely open (an estimate from a local shopkeeper was six days per year) could not be introduced as the barrister spoke after AIDA and he was not an expert witness. Arghh!
Gary Johnson AIDA Newsletter December 2010
C55 and DDO15 Amendments to the Surf Coast Shire Planning Scheme
One of the major issues AIDA was involved with during 2010 was the proposal to amend the C55 and DDO15 planning objectives and controls that are related specifically to the commercial areas of Aireys Inlet. AIDA, along with the community as a whole, were invited to participate in, and subsequently did participate in, an excellent consultative process put in place by Surf Coast Shire during 2008 and reported on in the 2009 president’s report. In essence, the design guidelines which arose from this extensive consultation contained specific controls including height and setback limits, active frontages to the Painkalac Creek, and allowed for shared driveways and walkways through to the creek which aimed to give open space between buildings and to encourage pedestrian access to the creek frontage. The night light aspect of the Bottom Shops was to be respected by limiting the illumination and size of signage. My report looked forward to these being adopted by the Minister and implemented within 2010.
Unfortunately, council received objections to the guidelines, mainly from business interests behind the application for the supermarket in the Bottom Shops precinct, and so the guidelines were referred to a state government panel in September 2010. This panel consisted of a single member who would hear all sides then recommend an outcome. AIDA had participated in panel hearings in the past and anticipated a reasonable hearing, but in this case felt we were not afforded the same right of hearing, nor the opportunity to rebut some of the more extravagant claims put forward by the barrister representing Bottom Shops commercial interests. We also believe that some of these claims have been wrongly used in the conclusions drawn in the report by the member.
Council has now to consider the report. It can adopt the amendment with or without changes, or it can abandon the amendment altogether. If adopted, it must be again sent to the Minister for planning for approval. AIDA has written to urge council to adopt the guidelines without change, which we consider properly reflect the community view of future development in the commercial areas, not the view of vested interests.
Ian Godfrey AIDA Newsletter April 2011
Update July 2012
Ministerial Changes to Aireys Commercial Areas Guidelines
The shire’s amendment C55 to the Surf Coast Planning Scheme was designed to introduce a Design and Development Overlay, providing urban design guidelines for future developments in Aireys Inlet’s commercial areas. The Design and Development Overlay was the result of several years’ work by council and the community, starting with the Pride of Place project in 2005, followed by a review of whether the existing business zones are adequate for future needs, then the development of the Aireys Inlet Commercial Areas Urban Design Guidelines, and finally the preparation of Amendment C55 itself. Throughout each of these stages there was well advertised and extensive consultation, in which AIDA and many other members of the community participated.
However, after the amendment was submitted to the planning minister’s office by the shire for approval in April 2011, no word had been heard from the state government on its progress, despite a number of enquiries by the shire.
Without these guidelines, inappropriate developments such as the recent proposal to construct an oversized supermarket at the bottom shops cannot be properly controlled. Perhaps this is best illustrated by the reaction of the lawyers for the unsuccessful supermarket developer, during the VCAT hearing last year. They argued strongly at VCAT against the new guidelines, and, extraordinarily, tabled at the hearing their own private application to the planning minister, criticising the development of Amendment C55 itself, and urging him to refuse its approval.
Advice was finally received from the Minister on 21 May that the amendment has now been approved – but in a form modified from that proposed by the shire. Disappointingly for the council and all members of the local community who worked on the proposed new Design and Development Overlay over the past six years, the changes directed by the minister include a relaxation of the proposed building height controls in the two commercial areas, the watering down of a number of important planning objectives, including the relationship of the bottom shops to the Painkalac Creek, and also the removal of the supporting Urban Design Guidelines document itself as part of the new provisions.
Ian Godfrey (AIDA Newsletter July 2012)