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Wise planning will ensure surf 'burbs are not just Waverleys by the waves

The Age 30-Dec-2011, Jason Dowling

Seaside communities from Seaford to Inverloch are expected to absorb another 50,000 homes in the two decades between 2006 and 2026 as the ''suburbanisation'' of Victoria's coastal areas intensifies.
The Bass Coast area in particular is expecting big population growth well beyond the Victorian average and will accommodate an additional 13,400 homes by the middle of the next decade.
The 27-kilometre Peninsula Link from EastLink to the Mornington Peninsula Freeway, expected to cut 40 minutes from travel times in peak periods, will add to the strong coastal housing demand.
The movement to coastal areas outside capital cities - sometimes called the ''sea change phenomenon'' - is occurring predominantly in settlements within a 1½-hour drive of major cities and towns, according to the 2008 Victorian Coastal Strategy.
Increasing affluence and access to technology were also driving more people to live near the beach, the report found.
The chairwoman of the Victorian Coastal Council and a Surf Coast Shire councillor, Libby Mears, said research indicated Victorians continued to rate coastal living highly.
''There is still within Victoria's psyche that a coastal environment and a coastal lifestyle is desirable and [it is] something that many are moving to achieve,'' she said.
She said new freeways, including Peninsula Link and the Geelong Ring Road, were making Victoria's coastal areas more attractive to people willing to commute.
''Infrastructure absolutely brings the coast closer to the city, there is no doubt,'' she said.
Cr Mears said councils and developers planning for growth in coastal areas had to be careful not to simply repeat the suburban lifestyle by the beach.
''We have to get clever about how populations do live on the coast - and that's not just about transplanting suburban environments onto coastal environments because that is not why people choose to live down there,'' she said.
She said people ''are not looking for Waverley near the water, they are looking for a different lifestyle … natural materials, vegetation, non-urbanised''.
In what may be a sign of future coastal development in Victoria, the first of 220 homes will be built next year at a new ''eco village'' development at Cape Paterson.
The project is intended to have a positive environmental impact by restoring native habitat to former farming land, as well as providing some of the state's most energy-efficient housing.
''The project site was chosen because it is almost totally cleared of native vegetation. The project will plant upwards of 600,000 locally indigenous plants and will reinstate important habitat as part of the site restoration, with large buffers to the coast,'' project director Brendan Condon said.
He said: ''Many coastal projects unfortunately build into and over bushland, which then rapidly degrades.''
Mr Condon said sustainable coastal developments would be increasingly popular among home buyers looking to minimise the cost of living and to blend in with the surrounding environment.
Cr Mears described it as coastal development done with a ''light touch''.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy said the government would release a new coastal development strategy early next year. He said the strategy would investigate predicted sea-level rises and have tougher planning rules for developments outside existing town boundaries.
Mr Guy also cautioned against coastal sprawl.
''We have to be careful about linear growth along the coast,'' he said. ''In the long term it may make sense for councils to plan for inland development rather than linear development along the coast.''



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Whale Watch

There are many whales seen in our area but few sightings are formally recorded - so there is no evidence of these. So, if you see a whale, please:

- Take a photo and/or note the fin and tail shape, plus any markings

- Note the time/day/location

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    Our Hoodies

    Hooded PloversWe have two valuable Hooded Plover breeding sites at Undertow Bay and 2nd Surf Beach.  Hoodies are endangered species with breeding success currently very low.  To protect them you must:

      - Read and follow signage

      - Only observe them from a distance of 80-100m

      - Keep your dog on a lead and well away from the birds.

          To find out more about our Hoodies, click here