In early December, people on the Bellarine Peninsula can comment on the Regional Growth Plan being developed by the G21 - a formal alliance of government, business and community organisations across Greater Geelong, Colac-Otway, Surf Coast, Golden Plains and Queenscliffe councils.
Between December 2 and December 11, G21 will hold 'listening posts' at which local people can say how they would like the region to develop. The 'listening posts' exercise is part of a broader consultation process to shape a draft G21 Regional Growth Plan, which will be released for comment in April 2012.
Local 'listening posts' are as follows:
Friday 2 December 4pm - 6pm The Terrace, Ocean Grove
Saturday 3 December 9am - 11am Barwon Heads Market, Cnr. Hitchcock Avenue and Ozone Street, Barwon Heads
Thursday 8 December 12pm - 2pm Hesse Street, Queenscliff
Saturday 10 December 9am - 11am Newcombe Street, Portarlington
Saturday 10 December 12pm - 2pm High Street, Drysdale/Clifton Springs
Saturday 10 December 3pm - 5pm Gateway Plaza Bellarine Highway, Leopold
Sunday 11 December 10am -12pm - Point Lonsdale Primary School Market, Bowen Road, Point Lonsdale
People who are unable to attend a 'listening post' can have their say at an online forum at www.G21regionalgrowthplan.com.au; and there is also a G21 Regional Growth Plan website: http://g21regionalgrowthplan.com.au/
Consultations about the G21 Regional Growth Plan started in late September with workshops in Colac and central Geelong. At these workshops, representatives of state and local government, community and environment groups, business and industry groups and the land development industry discussed some basic principles that should guide the Plan's development.
What is a 'regional growth plan'?
The G21 Regional Growth Plan is one of eight such plans being developed across Victoria. It is being developed in response to anticipated growth in the Geelong region's population, which is expected to reach 500,000 by 2050, approximately 200,000 more people than today. It will plan for population, employment and associated infrastructure (e.g. transport and other services).
DCSCA members and friends will be among the local people participating in the consultations and DCSCA will be watching the exercise carefully to ensure that it is as inclusive as it should be.*
DCSCA has argued consistently that planned population growth should be accompanied by planned economic growth. G21 - like the City of Greater Geelong - asserts that this is its approach, too, but there has been no sign of that approach in recent developments in Drysdale & Clifton Springs. DCSCA has also argued that a combination of local economic development (reducing commuting to Geelong or Melbourne) and significantly improved public transport (including, perhaps, a Bellarine light rail system) would reduce traffic congestion and pollution significantly and prevent Drysdale & Clifton Springs becoming mere dormitory towns for Geelong and Melbourne.
Finally, DCSCA has argued that the City of Greater Geelong's Bellarine Strategic Plan and its Structure Plans for each town should direct the region's growth. However, while the Structure Plan for Drysdale & Clifton Springs calls for greater housing diversity and the retention of the town's rural character, recent local developments meet neither criterion. This has to cast doubt on the validity of further exercises in planning, although other Bellarine towns have had quite different experiences around their Structure Plans.
What is 'G21'?
G21 consists of over 300 community leaders and specialists, who work to create better co-ordinated research, consultation and planning across the five councils - Greater Geelong, Colac-Otway, Surf Coast, Golden Plains and Queenscliffe . G21 is also the Strategic Planning Committee for the Geelong region, responsible for developing and implementing the region’s strategic plan. Most of G21’s financial support comes from the five councils it represents, along with government grants and its membership.
* DCSCA has long criticised the City of Greater Geelong's approach to consultation, which has excluded key voices; and - in concert with the Affiliation of Bellarine Community Associations - we have submitted a positive alternative consultation policy to the council (with no acknowledgement, let alone a proper response).