NOVEMBER 2015 UPDATE: A new structure plan for Aireys Inlet, Fairhaven, Moggs Creek and Eastern View has now replaced the existing Structure Plan developed in 1993.
On initiating the planning process the shire said ‘The plan will help guide the way the settlements develop and change over the next 20 to 30 years to ensure the highly valued features of the towns are protected and the towns remain a great – or even better – place to live, work, visit and play for current and future generations of residents and visitors.’ and that that community consultation will be an important part of the structure plan’s development and that collecting the community’s issues, ideas, needs and aspirations would be the first phase of the project. The shire also advised that part of the project would be to prepare an urban design framework for the Top and Bottom Shops in Aireys to guide their development and to retain their ‘informal character, improve pedestrian access and amenity, and enhance the physical environment’.
An updated structure plan provides the overarching principles for planning in our area for the next twenty or so years. Consequently, it is one of the most significant documents that AIDA will digest and comment on this decade, and the committee took much time to consider every word in it. The committee met with the shire and its consultants in January 2015 and continued to liaise with them to help develop the plan and to make sure it accurately reflects the values, aims and objectives of AIDA. The first steps were to supply the shire and the consultants with the results of AIDA’s most recent (2015) community survey questionnaire and to deliver a comprehensive submission (AIDA Submission 27-3-2015) for the Vision & Principles phase of the Structure Plan project. Following the release by the shire of their draft Vision & Principles Statement, AIDA submitted a number of comments and suggestions on the draft that were incorporated into the final draft (AI EV Vision and principles_Final Draft 150331 TC). This final draft was considered for Council endorsement at the Council meeting in late April 2015.
In mid-March 2015 Jorgen Peeters of the Surf Coast Shire sent AIDA this update on the progress of development of the new structure plan:
“The first phases of community engagement for ‘Aireys Inlet to Eastern View – Planning for the Future’ have been successfully completed. The consultant team of AXOS Urban spent 11 days in the townships from 24 January to 3 February 2015 to embed themselves in the community to understand the local context, issues and community aspirations. They spoke to over 500 people, including permanent and non-permanent residents, visitors, traders and school students through informal conversations, meetings, workshops and interviews. In addition, around 150 surveys were completed, either online or in hard copy.
The consultants sought to understand what it is that people currently love about the area, the key issues facing the towns and what the community would like Aireys Inlet to Eastern View to look and feel like in the future. They heard some clear and consistent messages about the importance of the natural environment and coastal village character, but also a broader range of views regarding specific topics such as whether there should be an active recreation space in Aireys.
Mr Peters concluded:
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support and input so far. The community’s response has been overwhelming.”
In April AIDA made a detailed submission responding to the shire’s documentation resulting from its community consultations. The submission included recommendations aimed at clarifying the shire’s initial understanding of the key local issues to be taken into account, under the headings of:
- Environment, emphasising its central importance in all local planning
- Heritage, relating to the Waddawurrung traditional lands
- Character, focussing on the importance of our coastal village character and the ongoing threats to it
- People and housing, including demographic changes, older persons’ housing, the appropriate types of commercial developments and recognition of the district’s creative character
- Tourism, activity and commercial areas, stressing their low-key character and the need for improved pedestrian connections
- Recreation, supporting more informal walking and cycling routes and opposing reference to a sporting oval in the Painkalac Valley
- Transport and roads, under sub-headings covering sustainability, informal character, shared pedestrian/ vehicle use and tourist traffic, and
- Fire risk and safety, addressing the tension between fuel reduction and environmental character, the need for places of last resort, local emergency mobile bandwidth capacity and Great Ocean Road traffic management on high fire-risk days.
In response to AIDA’s observations that planning controls need strengthening because local character is under continuing threat from over-zealous developments, planning permits being issued for developments which clearly don’t meet the planning scheme’s objectives, and infrastructure (pathways, roads, traffic management and signage) which fail to follow established objectives, AIDA was asked to make a further submission on where the planning processes for buildings, infrastructure and precincts are currently failing, and how they might be improved.
In June 2015, the second phase of community consultation took place in the Aireys Inlet Hall, on the shire’s preliminary draft of the structure plan’s key directions and key actions and also the proposed urban design framework for the Top and Bottom Shops – bringing together the ideas canvassed in stage one. These proposals contained a number of strengths, but also a number of problem areas requiring further changes. AIDA’s response to these proposals was submitted on ***.
At its meeting on 28 July the shire council received the draft structure plan and urban design framework for the Top and Bottom Shops. The council resolved to put it on public exhibition in August for four weeks for community feedback. Some of the major recommendations of the draft plan included:
- Contain the townships within their existingsettlement boundaries to protect the surrounding environmentally significant land and retain buffers to the Great Otway National Park.
- Facilitate the redevelopment of 2 Fraser Drive for higher density housing suitable for older persons and incorporate the community garden on the site.
- Not progress the development of an active recreation space in the Painkalac Creek Valley, butinvestigate the opportunity for enhancement of the primary school oval for recreational use and continue to facilitate the sharing of sports facilities in Lorne, Anglesea, Bellbrae and Torquay.
- Work with GORCC, VicRoads and affected landowners to address the environmental, traffic and amenity impacts of large visitor numbers at the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch at Eastern View.
- Construct a pathway linking the Bottom Shops with Old Coach Road via River Reserve Road and Bambra Road and provide a continuous pathway between the Top and Bottom Shops.
- Recognise the value to the community of the Aireys Pub as a social focal point and consider future opportunities for additional tourist-oriented uses on the site.
- Lobby VicRoads to permanently reduce the speed limit to 50 km/h from Boundary Road, Aireys Inlet, to the SLSC in Fairhaven and to 60 km/h in Eastern View.
- Investigate the feasibility of providing public toilets at the Community Hall in lieu of the Top Shops.AIDA will be commenting on the draft structure plan and urban design framework and encourages members to also review and comment on the draft plans.
Council received ninety-four submissions, an indication that the community knows the importance of these documents. AIDA was generally supportive of the draft since many of the most significant issues had been resolved in terms that would be acceptable to members based on recent surveys.
Despite that note of support, AIDA submitted twenty-eight points regarding the structure plan for consideration by the shire. Many asked for further clarification or minor changes so that the intent of the key direction or action would be clear to all readers, including planners and developers. A similar number of points were made regarding the urban design framework. In a few cases, AIDA disagreed with a point and put forward an alternative point of view.
We were pleased to be informed by the shire officer that many of the issues raised by AIDA were accepted, at least in part, and that the changes would be recommended to council.
Councillors considered the final draft of the structure plan and framework at their November 2015 meeting. Decisions and current information can be seen on the council website: http://www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au/My_Council
Click on Agendas & Minutes.
Ian Godfrey and Gary Johnson