The woes of the Split Point Lighthouse precinct began in 1999 when the Surf Coast Shire received a grant to seal Lighthouse Road and Federal Street to facilitate tourist access. Many residents, aware that the residential streets could not cope with the projected increase in traffic, reluctantly agreed to the sealing when in the winter of 1999 Lighthouse Road, through lack of maintenance, partially collapsed. Since then, many thousands of dollars, and hundreds of hours have been spent trying to rectify this ill-conceived scheme.
Four trafflc management plans have been commissioned from independent consultants, each of whom has ignored the fundamental problem that there is no room at Step Beach car park for the enormous number of vehicles that traverse the precinct, a number increasing exponentially every year. The opening of the Geelong ring road has resulted in an even larger increase in the past year.
In April 2010 at a public meeting about 60 people voiced their concern over developing Step Beach car park into a large sealed car park with long vehicle parking. As a result of this meeting the consultants were asked to revise their plan.
Unfortunately, this revised plan contained factual and technical errors, so in April 2010 AIDA took the unusual step of not just commenting on the latest plan, but actually proposing a traffic management plan for the precinct. A modified form of this plan was unanimously accepted by council on 25 August 2010. The resolutions were moved by Cr Northeast and seconded by Cr Mears.
The resolutions are reproduced below:
1. Note the Split Point Lighthouse Precinct Traffic Management Plan.
2. Remove all existing lighthouse vehicular directional signage from the Noble Sanctuary entrance to Inlet Crescent North and also from the Lighthouse Road intersection and, except for disabled and pedestrian signage, from elsewhere within the precinct.
3. Redevelop the skate park car park providing increased car parking and also long vehicle and coach parking taking into account the needs of the local community and their use of this precincL
4. Prohibit buses, vehicles towing caravans and trailers from entering the precinct and direct all traffic to the redeveloped skate park car park whilst providing new Great Ocean Road signage at and before the Noble Sancfuary enfance to Inlet Crescent North confirming same.
5. Request Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) that any redevelopment of the Step Beach car park should avoid impact on existing flora and fauna, be limited to a maximum of 25 spaces on an unsealed surface, with no provision of long vehicle parking or of overflow parking in Eagle Rock Parade.
6. Consider the potential to increase disabled car and minibus parking at the foot of the lighthouse.
7. Use installations and planting to prevent vehicles parking on the side of the road in Federal Street
8. Subject to Aboriginal midden protection, allocate up to 15 well-defined but unsealed parallel parks in Inlet Crescent South.
9. Provide signage prohibiting long vehicles from entering Inlet Crescent South.
10. Advise tourists, bus companies, tourist operators of above and keep the community informed.
The adoption of these resolutions was a victory for the residents of the Lighthouse Precinct who for eleven years have watched their streets become congested and overrun purely because of bad traffic management. The challenge now is for residents to ensure that the resolutions are carried out. We must continue to lobby the council, and we must lobby the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee to ensure Step Beach car park does not have the same fate as Bells Beach where eighty tourist buses arrive daily. As residents we deserve better than this.
Frieda Wachsmann AIDA Newsletter December 2010
Lighthouse Precinct Update April 2011
For over 11 years residents and council have tried to deal with traffic management in the lighthouse precinct. During this time residents in different parts of the precinct have had to endure disruption to their amenity in the form of excessive traffic, speeding and anti-social behaviour. February 2009 marked a turning point in the management of the precinct. The Split Point Lighthouse Precinct Masterplan was endorsed by council subject to the outcomes of a traffic management plan and a number of other provisos including the lack of support by council for the inclusion of a long vehicle space at Step Beach car park.
In April 2010 a draft of the traffic management plan was released for public comment. Many precinct residents sent in written objections and a public meeting in the Aireys Inlet Community Hall was attended by more than 60 concerned members of the community, the majority of whom were very vocal in their opposition to aspects of the draft plan. AIDA subsequently wrote a detailed response and took the unusual step of suggesting an alternative traffic management plan, as the plan prepared by the traffic consultants had not in AIDA’s opinion grasped the problems with traffic management in the precinct, nor had it addressed the opportunities and potential that are present in the precinct.
In August 2010 the consultants’ revised traffic management plan, which offered minor concessions but failed to respond to the major concerns of the community, was noted but not endorsed by council, which instead passed a resolution requesting officers to modify plans to adopt the implementation of 10 requirements, several of which were drafted as a result of the extensive inputs from the community including AIDA’s alternative plan. There was a collective sigh of relief that community consultation had at last been effective. Councillors had made a huge effort to understand the issues faced by both residents and visitors in the precinct, and AIDA committee members felt that the hours spent writing submissions had finally paid off. Democracy at the local government level was alive and well.
However, in November 2010 a further resolution was passed by council to clarify other council officer recommendations not specifically addressed in the resolution of August 2010. Unfortunately, there was no community consultation leading up to this second resolution and AIDA has found that there are multiple mismatches between the second set of council officer recommendations and the council’s intentions documented in the previous resolution. AIDA committee members have prepared a list of these mismatchesand are currently communicating them to council members and officers to assist them as they prepare specific designs for works in the lighthouse precinct that conform to the council’s intentions as laid out in the resolution of August 2010.
The first physical works are due to start before the end of this financial year, with landscaping works in and around Inlet Crescent south. AIDA maintains that the works implemented in this first stage should be consistent with the traffic management plan for the whole precinct, and the resolutions of August 2010, which provide for the redevelopment of the Skate Park car park area to accommodate car and long vehicle parking to allow buses and vehicles towing caravans and trailers to be prohibited from entering the precinct at both the western leg of Inlet Crescent south and the Noble Sanctuary entrance to Inlet Crescent north.
We are now so close to the development of a lighthouse precinct that will work well for both residents and visitors. It will be a precinct that will provide a comprehensive experience for visitors, and at the same time provide improved amenity for residents. Council has endorsed a traffic management plan with recommendations that facilitate this, but somehow the reality is proving hard to achieve. AIDA’s role
will now be continued vigilance to ensure that these recommendations are carried out.
Frieda Wachsman AIDA Newsletter April 2011
Lighthouse Precinct Update August 2011
AIDA members may have already noticed recent works carried out by the Surf Coast Shire in Inlet Crescent South. The parking spaces near the eastern end of the road have been reorganised and resurfaced to prevent further erosion of the midden (and continued bogging of cars and vans in the loose sand) and landscaping along the north side of the road will prevent informal parkingon the nature strips. These works were funded from the Shire’s 2010–11 budget as the second stage of the Traffic Management Plan for the Lighthouse Precinct (the first stage being the works in Federal Street). Funds from the 2011–12 budget will support final planning and detailed designs for the Skate Park Car Park and remaining traffic management works in the Precinct. The AIDA Executive will be working with the Shire’s Infrastructure Officers on these designs, to be implemented in the 2012–13 budget year.
Lighthouse Precinct Update April 2012
During the last few months, attention in the Lighthouse Precinct has been on the upcoming redevelopment of the Aireys Inlet Reserve area. The reserve, which includes a large, open grassy sward with delightful views to the inlet, sand dunes, cliffs, lighthouse and ocean, holds special significance for many residents as it is one of the few recreational spaces in the area. It is the training ground for the Aireys Inlet Eels and home to the skate park, children’s playground and barbeque facilities, as well as providing a venue for many other community activities. The reserve and its surrounds also provide facilities for visitors: school groups enjoy kayaking and other activities in the inlet, and for many tourists it is the perfect place to stop for a break.
It was therefore not surprising that many residents paid close attention when the Surf Coast Shire released their preliminary plans for ‘Aireys Inlet Reserve and Skate Park Car Park Improvements’ in late December 2011. The aspect of the proposed plans that caused most community concern was the placement of long-vehicle parking lay-bys on the Great Ocean Road west of the bottom shops in a location that would impact greatly on views to the Painkalac Valley.
Other very contentious aspects were the construction of concrete paths within the reserve, the sealing of the car park in asphalt with associated concrete curbing and drains, and last but not least, the construction of a viewing platform on the inlet edge in the form of a giant hand cradling a timber boat.
Following the shire’s public consultation at the reserve in early January, AIDA prepared a submission to the shire that not only raised the problem issues outlined above, but also objected to the plan for significant widening of the Great Ocean Road in the area. Furthermore, AIDA proposed that long- vehicle parking on the Great Ocean Road could be accommodated in a lay-by opposite the bottom shops and strongly supported suggestions from the community for additional parking facilities for long vehicles in the area west of the Painkalac Bridge.
On 26 March 2012, the shire released revised options for the Aireys Inlet Reserve and Skate Park Car Park Improvements on their website as part of the agenda papers and appendices for the 28 March council meeting. Detailed review of the new proposals indicated that significant improvements had been incorporated into the plans: AIDA was very pleased that:
- i the long-vehicle parking had been moved eastward on the Great Ocean Road into the bottom shops area where valley views would not be threatened,
- ii the use of concrete paths had been abandoned in favour of Gherang gravel (the same material used by GORCC for the Surf Coast Walk),
- iii that vegetation removal would be minimised, and iiv that the viewing platform and associated branch pathway would not be constructed.
However AIDA was very concerned that proposals for asphalt sealing of the car park and associated concrete curbing and drains were retained. Furthermore AIDA was disappointed that short shrift had been given to community suggestions for long- vehicle parking west of the Painkalac Creek. Concerns about widening of the Great Ocean Road were not addressed in the shire’s revised plan as such works are the sole purview of VicRoads.
AIDA’s responses were circulated to shire councillors shortly before the council meeting, but at the meeting it was learned that our three local councillors had already formulated their own response in the form of a detailed resolution, which was passed unanimously and may be viewed on the Surfcoast Shire website http://www.sur fcoast.vic.gov.au/My_Council/ Agendas_Minutes/Council_Agendas_Minutes. With respect to specific features of the improvement works, AIDA is very pleased that the resolution endorses the use of ‘gravel pave’ for the car park as a surface most in line with the natural values of the precinct, and that shire officers are requested to maximise the use of the existing gravel parking areas on both sides of the Great Ocean Road west of the Painkalac Bridge for bus and long-vehicle parking. The latter is of importance since the resolution also removes essentially all provision for long-vehicle parking on the Great Ocean Road in the bottom shops area, which AIDA had hoped would eliminate the negative impact of long vehicles entering the Lighthouse Precinct. As it now stands, mini-buses (12 or fewer passengers including the driver) that can be accommodated in car-parking spaces will be permitted access to all parts of the precinct. Larger buses will be restricted to ‘drop-off’ only, and must travel only around the lower level of the precinct, entering at Inlet Crescent south and exiting back onto the Great Ocean Road at Inlet Crescent north. No parking for large vehicles (including large campervans and cars with caravans) will be available within the precinct.
It is obvious that directional and regulatory signage will be crucial to traffic management in the area and AIDA has very recently attended a workshop hosted by shire infrastructure officers aimed at optimising traffic management while reversing the proliferation of signs of all sorts within the precinct.
Also included in the resolution are clauses that will greatly improve the appearance of the Great Ocean Road and surrounding verges in the bottom shops area and the Painkalac Valley. Minimal vegetation removal is to occur in the design and construction work and a revegetation plan is to be developed to soften and screen the car park and pathways. In addition, a landscaping plan is to be prepared for the verge along both sides of the Great Ocean Road between the Painkalac Bridge and the Skate Park and Food Store to prevent ongoing ‘overflow’ parking at peak times and to soften and screen the proposed pathways along the Great Ocean Road. Furthermore, VicRoads will be requested that prior to the start of any design work for the pedestrian refuge or any proposed road widening, council and the broader Aireys Inlet community have the opportunity to contribute to the design of the proposed infrastructure solutions.
Finally, and of continuing importance into the future, a crucial and very welcome feature of the council resolution is that all future infrastructure solutions in sensitive coastal areas should have a design approach in sympathy with the local neighbourhood character and that engagement with communities occur prior to the start of design work to ensure communities contribute to proposed infrastructure solutions. BRAVO!
Frieda Wachsmann and Mary-Jane Gething AIDA Newsletter April 2012
Lighthouse Precinct Update July 2012
Significant redevelopment works currently occurring in and around the Airey Inlet Reserve car park (aka the Skate Park car park) represent a second, important stage in the process of amelioration of problems with traffic management and parking in the Split Point Lighthouse Precinct.
The Lighthouse Precinct has suffered traffic congestion and tourist influx for more than ten years, with each commissioned traffic management plan proposed by various consultants ignoring the scale of the problem and the obvious limitation to visitor parking in the Step Beach car park. This has meant overflowing traffic, with large buses, caravans and pedestrians all forced to compete for road and parking space outside designated parking areas. AIDA and local residents participated in consultative processes with the shire and GORCC over a number of years, until finally in 2010 following submissions by AIDA that reflected and addressed the concerns of residents, our three local councillors, Libby Mears, Libby Coker and Simon Northeast, persuaded the council to pass a ten-point resolution for measures for parking improvements and traffic control in the Lighthouse Precinct (click here for details of the saga to date).
2011 saw the completion by the shire of the first stage of improvement works – the reorganisation of car parking at the south eastern end of Inlet Crescent south and the installation of plantings along on the northern side of Inlet Crescent south to deter long vehicle parking along the nature strip (see photographs below).
Subsequently in early 2012, following additional extensive consultations with AIDA and local residents, council approved plans for redevelopment of the Aireys Inlet Reserve car park, for additional car parking just outside the redeveloped car park on Inlet Crescent west, and for installation of long vehicle parking bays on either side of the GOR. AIDA was particularly pleased with council’s willingness to take up a suggestion by Ian Godfrey to use a new ‘gravel pave’ system instead of a dark asphalt surface for the Reserve car park. The system is a porous plastic cellular paving grid for reinforcing grass or gravel, and is suitable for many trafficked applications, both pedestrian and vehicular, including car parks. The reinforcement pavers allow rainwater or surface water to penetrate the grid structure, eliminating the requirement for expensive installation of drainage and, in this case, subsequent discharge into the inlet. Its use at the Reserve car park will be a first for the Surf Coast Shire. It is hoped it will be a precedent for the future redevelopment by GORCC of Step Beach car park, where the desirability of maintaining a natural gravel surface has been endorsed by council.
Photographs of the current Reserve car park works illustrate how this system is installed:
Concrete kerbs are installed around the car park periphery and entrance and base material is added to the car park surface
The porous plastic cellular paving grid is laid on the car park surface and pounded into the base
The car park is coated with local Gherang gravel, which is repeatedly pounded into the pavers, and then the car park entrance from the GOR is (unfortunately) sealed with asphalt – hopefully it will become dusty and lighter in colour
The other work that is currently under way is the installation of a long vehicle parking bay adjacent to the V-line bus stop beside the westbound lane of the Great Ocean Road (a similar bay beside the eastbound lane is to come). These are to accommodate short term parking for tour buses setting down passengers and for other long vehicles such as campervans and cars towing caravans (the Reserve and Step Beach car parks cannot accommodate vehicles longer than 6 m).
Lighthouse Precinct Update April 2013
The final significant stage in the implementation of the Surf Coast Shire’s traffic management plan for the Split Point Lighthouse Precinct – revision of directional signage on the GOR and of regulatory, interpretative, pedestrian and vehicular directional signs throughout the precinct – was carried out in the weeks following Easter 2013. The new signage plan, whose major aims included reversal of the proliferation of all types of signs over the past decade, the removal of signage that directed large vehicles into the precinct with the promise of non-existent parking facilities, and prohibition of bus entry into the precinct except via the Inlet Crescent south entry during non-holiday periods, was developed following a year of detailed consultation between officers from the shire’s engineering and tourism departments with representatives of AIDA, GORCC and local tourism operators.
The new signage appears to be having a beneficial effect on traffic in the precinct, although the full effect will not be apparent until after the next summer season. Significant changes include the restriction of buses over 6 metres from parking in the precinct, and the development of the Aireys Inlet Reserve car park which has now become a central starting point for visitors to explore the town. It is the beginning of the Lighthouse Heritage Trail, which leads up to the lighthouse. Visitors can enjoy picturesque views across the Inlet, and some of the best views in Aireys across to Lorne on the walk up to the lighthouse. The trail is part of the Coastal Walk that leads from Fairhaven to join the trail, and then connects to the cliff walk at Step Beach car park.
The reserve car park has been surfaced with a pavé system where crushed rock is compacted into a plastic matrix of cylinders forming the surface of the car park. This system forms a durable surface for vehicles while at the same time maintaining the informal appearance of an unsealed car park. AIDA has long advocated for the maintenance of our low-key coastal character, and strongly opposes the sealing of car parks with bitumen. A significant change in the precinct has been the signage on the Great Ocean Road. Cars are now directed into the reserve car park. Long vehicles, on the other hand, are directed to two long-vehicle parking bays on either side of the Great Ocean Road adjacent to the Vline bus stops.
These two long-vehicle parking bays were chosen from a number of potential sites. The community does not support our coastal vistas being marred by long- vehicle parking on the Great Ocean Road, so a solution had to be found that addressed the needs of long vehicles while at the same time preserving our views. There is no provision for long-vehicle parking within the precinct.
While the current position of two parking spaces may not be ideal, a long-vehicle parking area further along the Great Ocean Road beyond the Painkalac Bridge has been suggested. Council is proposing a shire-wide review of long-vehicle parking, and AIDA is looking forward to discussing this alternative with council officers.