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Floodgates opened for coastal development

Coastal council, minister at odds

The Age 16-Sep-11, Royce Millar with Jason Dowling

PLANNING Minister Matthew Guy has been accused of opening the floodgates for development along the Victorian coast with a surprise decision to rezone seaside farmland for housing at Phillip Island.

In a move that has riled local government, Mr Guy this week wrote to the Bass Coast Shire Council, explaining he had over-ruled them and would include a 5.7-hectare farming property known as the Cadogan land into the township of Ventnor.

The reasons given by the minister for the intervention were that the owner of the land had requested the rezoning, residential rezoning would be good for housing affordability, and the new housing precinct could make use of the existing infrastructure and services at the Ventnor township.
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But the council yesterday ridiculed the decision.

''There's no infrastructure,'' Cr Peter Paul said.

''The only people who could support it are the developer and the real estate agent who sells the land. This is not just a Phillip Island issue; this is an issue for the entire Victorian coast.''

The council met Mr Guy last night in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the development.

In a letter to Mr Guy, Bass Coast chief executive Allan Bawden said the council had decided to retain the land for farming following a 10-year strategic planning process. One hundred submissions had called for the Ventnor town boundaries to be retained. Only one submission (from the owner) supported rezoning of the property.

The Age understands a mystery purchaser is waiting for the rezoning to be finalised. Council sources said they were confident that the identity of that purchaser would explain much about the minister's seemingly ad hoc intervention.

Since assuming office in November, Mr Guy has taken an interventionist approach. In April, he stripped planning control for coastal land between Portland and Narrawong from Glenelg Shire Council; in May he approved a contentious 200-house ecovillage at Cape Paterson. In June he announced plans to rezone 240 hectares of farmland west of Torquay for housing before backflipping after local opposition.

He could not be contacted last night.

To see The Age article and comments, click here


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