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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

DCSCA meets Cllr. John Doull

On 18 January, DCSCA committee members met Councillor John Doull at Geelong City Hall. This was the first of a series of quarterly meetings that DCSCA has initiated with the two Councillors whose wards coincide with DCSCA's area - the other is Councillor Rod Macdonald, whom we'll meet on February 5.

We told Cllr. Doull of people's dissatisfaction with the Council's public communication and consultation processes around, for example, the Drysdale & Clifton Springs Structure Plan, the Council's proposals to revamp Drysdale town centre and Amendments C194 and C103 to the Greater Geelong Planning Scheme that the Council is proposing currently; and we said that these concerns were shared by other community associations on the Bellarine. Cllr. Doull said that he was unaware of any complaints about the Council's public communication and consultation, but that he would ask the relevant Council officers about them.

We then discussed arrangements for local participation in Clean Up Australia Day and Cllr. Doull asked for inormation about bins, collection, etc.; and for information about local action to send to the Council's media department for publicity.

Finally, we brought Cllr. Doull up to date with preparations for the Drysadale Festival of Glass and he suggested ways in which the Council may be able to support it.

Our next quarterly meeting with Cllr. Doull will be on 19 April at 4.00 p.m. at City Hall. Among the agenda items will be DCSCA's proposals about improving the Council's communication and consultation policies. We have sent these to Cllrs. Doull and Macdonald, as well as to all the community associations represented in the Affiliation of Belarine Community Associations (ABCA).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Re-zoning Drysdale & Clifton Springs (3)

DCSCA today made a formal submission to the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) concerning its proposed Amendments. We have sent copies to Lisa Neville (State MP for the area) and to Richard Marles and Darren Cheeseman (federal MPs for the area), to keep them in touch with what CoGG proposes for their area.

The body of the submission follows.

The Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association (DCSCA) believes that the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) should not adopt proposed Amendments C194 and C103 for six reasons, each of which is presented in detail in what follows.

1. The timing of public consultation has excluded many local voices
DCSCA believes that Amendments C194 and C103 should not be adopted because the timing of the public consultation around them has excluded many people from expressing their views.

These Amendments have been advertised - and public comment invited - at a time when most people are either preparing for holidays or taking them. Adverts appeared in the local press on 17 November 2009 and the closing date for submissions is 18 January 2010. This gives local people two months to respond. However, their time to respond is reduced significantly, if they take two or more weeks annual holiday in that time, as many local people do.

Further, the timing of this public exhibition cannot be seen as just 'unfortunate'. When CoGG invited public comment on its draft Drysdale & Clifton Springs Structure Plan, it did so at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 and was criticised for it in the submissions it received.

(Incidentally, the adverts in the press give the closing date for submissions as 'Monday 18 January 2009'!)

2. The public consultation has been inappropriate DCSCA believes that Amendments C194 and C103 should not be adopted because the public consultation around them has been conducted inappropriately.

Several landowners likely to be affected by the Amendments have told DCSCA that they did not receive an individual, formal letter from CoGG informing them of the proposals and inviting them to comment. This is a major deviation from standard practice.

Further, DCSCA has received no information from CoGG regarding the proposed Amendments. While CoGG has no duty to inform a community association of proposed changes to land-use in its area, a community association can be a further channel of information for CoGG and association members can 'spread the message' by word of mouth. Inviting DCSCA to act in this way would be a positive response by the CoGG to the continuing criticisms of its public communication and consultation from, e.g., community associations on the Bellarine Peninsula.

3. Amendment C194 contradicts CoGG's Structure Plan for Drysdale & Clifton Springs DCSCA believes that Amendment C194 should not be adopted because it contradicts CoGG's Structure Plan for Drysdale & Clifton Springs and so its adoption would render the Structure Plan meaningless.
Amendment C194 will introduce a new clause to the Greater Geelong Planning scheme that will, 'include the land use directions and policies identified in the adopted Drysdale/Clifton Springs Structure Plan April 2009'; and the 'Introduction' to that Structure Plan states that the Plan will, 'guide Council's consideration of proposed rezonings and applications for planning permits.' (p. 1).

However, Amendment C194 proposes to rezone 17-29 Springs Street from Business 1 to Residential 1. This contradicts the Structure Plan, which recommends that, 'the Council owned land at 17-29 Springs Street, Clifton Springs, be rezoned from Business 1 to Mixed Use.' (Drysdale Clifton Springs Structure Plan April 2009 p. 17.)

The Structure Plan recommends rezoning this site to Mixed Use because it represents 'a good opportunity to provide an alternative use such as tourist accommodation.' (p.17); and such use would be consistent with the statement elsewhere in the Structure Plan that 'Strong State and Local Planning Policies provide directions for … promotion of tourist activities and accommodation.' (Drysdale Clifton Springs Structure Plan April 2009 p. 4. Emphasis added.) Rezoning the site to Residential 1 contradicts both of those statements about tourist accommodation.

Further, DCSCA questions the equation in the Structure Plan between 'Mixed Use' and 'tourist accommodation'. In our view, Mixed Uses could also include a park or playground, where travelling tourists (especially those in caravans or campervans) could pull in for a wayside stopover, a game of bowls, a round of golf, or perhaps a meal and a flutter on the pokies at the Club. Any of these activities would inject revenue into the local community.

4. Amendment C194 could increase the risk of flooding in Springs Street DCSCA believes that Amendment C194 should not be adopted because it could increase the risk of flooding in Springs Street.

Springs Street has a history of flooding during heavy rain. DCSCA believes that before any rezoning is contemplated (whether for housing, a park, a motel, or whatever), appropriate structural and hydrological surveys should determine the present risk of flooding in the area and assess the extent to which various forms of development could reduce or increase that risk.

5. Amendment C194 would introduce dense housing at the expense of open space in Springs Street DCSCA believes that Amendment C194 should not be adopted because CoGG has made no case for introducing a relatively small pocket of dense housing in the open space in Springs Street at a time when the 1,500-home Stage 1 of the Jetty Road development will increase dense housing in the area very significantly.

Amendment C194 doesn’t state how many residential lots will be created if 9-15 and 17-29 Springs Street are rezoned to Residential 1, but local estimates put the number at less than twenty. When set against the 1,500 new homes to be created in Stage 1 of the Jetty Road development, this is an insignificant amount of extra accommodation and it would be created at the expense of open space in the area. In the absence of any justification by the CoGG, this 'mini-estate' at some distance from any other accommodation seems a needless loss of public space.

Further, the potential loss of public space affects all the people in Clifton Springs and Drysdale, not just those in the immediate area of Springs Street. The towns have been designated a growth area and so we face the prospect of extensive - and intensive - expansion of our built environment. Faced with such a prospect, we need to retain as much as possible of the towns' traditional open, rural character and not hand over every available plot of open space to developers. In its Structure Plan for Drysdale & Clifton Springs, the Council states on several occasions that its intention is to retain the towns' traditional character and these Amendments contradict that intention. (See also '3' above.)

6. Amendments C194 and C103 would threaten the security and well-being of local residents DCSCA believes that Amendments C194 and C103 should not be adopted unless and until all the people who live currently in the areas to be rezoned have been offered alternative equivalent accommodation and have agreed freely to accept it.

Neither Amendment states what will happen to the people who live currently in the areas that are proposed for rezoning, i.e. the triangle bounded by High, Eversley and Princess Streets; and the area bounded by Clarendon Road, Princess Street, Woodville Street and the rear of Murradoc Road. The proposed rezoning will almost certainly result in a significant increase in the rates these people will be charged, with no commensurate increased council services. While the value of their property may rise, this will be a benefit only if they decide freely to sell their property and live elsewhere. In their submissions to the CoGG's draft Structure Plan for Drysdale & Clifton Springs, some of these residents stated very definitely that they did not want to do that.

Consequently, neither Amendment should be adopted until all of the current residents have accepted offers of alternative accommodation that is judged independently (e.g. by three independent real estate agents) to be equivalent to or better than their present homes; and there should be stringent, transparent measures to ensure that each resident takes their decision freely and without any external pressure whatever.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Re-zoning Drysdale & Clifton Springs (2)

'Re-zoning Drysdale 1' mentioned a forthcoming meeting between officers of DCSCA and of the Clifton Springs Golf Club. The meeting took place, but the participants were there as residents of the Springs Street area (where the Club is situated), rather than as members of the Club (although some were). DCSCA President Doug Carson takes up the story.

'The residents of the Springs Street area are very upset at the City of Greater Geelong's proposals to rezone the area to "Residential 1" (high-density residential). 180 of them signed a petition to CoGG objecting to the proposed rezoning of the site, which they believed had been designated as parkland or open space. The residents say that the site has a history of flooding in heavy rain, with Springs Street being awash with run-off; and that creating high-density housing would only increase this tendency. The residents couldn't understand why the Council wants to create this high-density 'mini-estate' of around a dozen houses in an area distant from other houses at a time when 1,500 houses are due to come online from the Jetty Road development. The Council has given no explanantion for its proposals.'

Doug Carson also said that very few local residents have received a formal letter from the Council setting-out its proposed rezoning of the area; and even those who had received such a letter pointed out that it came just eight weeks before the closing date (18 January 2010) for submissions and at a time when many people were away on holiday. This means that people on holiday were either prevented from commenting or, at best, had a very short time in which to do so.

This isn't the first time that the Council has undermined the idea of public consultation in this way. It exhibited its draft Drysdale and Clifton Springs Structure Plan over an equivalent period - December 2008 and January 2009 - with the same implications for public consultation. It was criticized for doing so in the submissions it received, but clearly it learnt nothing from the episode. Now, as it proposes to implement parts of that Structure Plan through Amendments C103 and C194, it is showing similar disregard for the views of the local pople it is meant to represent.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Lake Lorne Pathway

Before the recent rain, Lake Lorne had shrunk a bit, but enthusiasm for a pathway around it remains as big as ever!

For years, DCSCA has pressed the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) for a pathway around the lake. Progress has been very slow, but it has been continuing.

Now, CoGG has commissioned a 'Concept Plan' for a pathway around the lake. The Concept Plan will emphasize protecting & rehabilitating the Lake as a key waterfowl habitat and cultural heritage site.

On Feb 4 2010, private consultants will present a draft Concept Plan to a meeting of stakeholders, including Drysdale Pony Club, Peninsula Little Athletics Club and Bellarine Steam Preservation Society. DCSCA will be at that meeting and is very keen to know how people living near the Lake see its future. Please tell us what you think:
P.O. Box 581, Drysdale, Vic. 3222.

Rezoning Drysdale & Clifton Springs (1)

The City of Greater Geelong wants to change land-use in four areas of Drysdale through Amendments C194 and C103 to its Greater Geelong Planning Scheme. Each is currently open for public consultation and each is likely to increase residents' rates.

Through these two amendments, the Council wants to rezone the area bounded by High, Eversleigh & Princess Streets from 'Residential' to 'Business', with a consequent rates increase; and the area bounded by Princess and Woodville Streets, Clarendon Road & the back of the buildings facing Murradoc Road from 'Farming' and 'Low Density Residential' to 'Residential 1' (i.e. high density housing), with a consequent rates increase.

The Council also wants to rezone 9-15 Spring St. and 17-29 Spring St. (both Council-owned), plus 13a Princess Street, to 'Residential'; and to rezone land next to the Potato Shed to develop it as a recreational 'hub'.

Anyone who may be affected by the proposals can tell the council their view about them. Written submissions are due by 18 January 2010 to CoGG's Strategic Planning Unit, P.O. Box 104, Geelong 3220.

The Drysdale & Clifton Springs Community Association (DCSCA) is watching the consultation process closely. 'These Amendments are the Council's Drysdale & Clifton Springs Structure Plan in action', said Association Secretary, Patrick Hughes. 'That Plan went through a similar consultation process, yet it reflects very few of the forty submissions it generated.'

More information about the Amendments is available from the Council's Customer Service Centre, Hancock St., Drysdale; by phone on 5272 4820; or on the Council's web site:

The Clifton Springs Golf Club is organising a petition of its members to express its opposition to the rezoning of the properties in Spring Street. DCSCA officers will meet Golf Club officers next week to co-ordinate their actions around these two Amendments.