The recently released plans for the new Central Walk housing estate in Drysdale show that the estate will contradict several elements of the Structure Plan for Drysdale & Clifton Springs produced by the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG).
The land on which the estate will be built is bounded by Murradoc Road, Princess Street, Woodville Street and Clarendon Road. In the CoGG Structure Plan, this land is earmarked for high density housing and to that extent, building the estate is consistent with the Structure Plan. However, the Structure Plan states on several occasions that its intention is to retain the towns' traditional, rural character and to ensure a mix of accommodation. The plans for Central Walk show that it will meet neither of these intentions.
Central Walk developers Urban Land Developments claim that, 'Open space and greenery will feature prominently at Central walk and residents will enjoy the spoils (sic) of an extensive linear park, wetlands and central reserve ...' However, the plans show that the 'central reserve' is about the size of the neighbouring Aldi site; and while the 'extensive linear park, wetlands' is a welcome inclusion, it is just another way to describe the water course that flows through the land already and couldn't be built on anyway. Also, the plans suggest strongly that while Central Walk will be home to families, it will include no housing suitable for single people - elderly and young - who once again miss out on the chance to live independently in their community.
Further, CoGG has approved this 200-lot development while doing nothing to ensure that there are jobs available for the people who will live in it. This isn't the fault of Urban Land Developments - it's another instance of the council's lack of vision, which is turning our towns into 'dormitories' for Geelong and Melbourne. DCSCA believes that CoGG should be planning the economic development of our towns just as it is planning their physical and social development.
Finally, the lack of adequate public transport is forcing increasing numbers of people to drive cars to work, increasing the pressure on already crowded roads and, of course, increasing the emission of harmful greenhouse gases.
When the proposals for the estate were published last year, local residents had serious concerns about them. DCSCA's formal submission to the council highlighted the contradictions between the proposals and the Structure Plan. (We also criticised the council's poor public consultation on the issue.) Subsequently, we presented our arguments to a Planning Panel appointed by the state Planning Minister. The Panel recommended that the council approve the proposal, which it did.
CoGG has encouraged local people to participate in creating Structure Plans for their towns and tells them that these Plans will guide their area's development. However, the grand aspirations in these Structure Plans count for nothing as CoGG gives developers permission to cover the Peninsula with homogeneous housing estates, while ignoring the needs of single people and forcing increasing numbers of people to commute.