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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Proposed child care centre in Drysdale challenges council’s planning policies

Poligot p/l has applied to the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG) for planning permission to build a 103-place child care centre at 219-223 Jetty Road, just south of its junction with Cowies Road.

The centre would have places for up to 103 children at any one time. It would operate 6.30am – 6.30pm Monday to Friday and would close on statutory public holidays. The centre building would occupy 878 square metres and there would also be parking space for 34 vehicles, accessible only from Cowies Road.

The proposal is open for public comment until 27 May, but it's likely that CoGG will accept submissions until the day that it decides on the application. For more information, contact Elena Politidis in CoGG's Planning department: 03 5272 4474 The proposal can be viewed either at the CoGG website or at these CoGG customer service centres: 
100 Brougham Street - Ground floor - 100 Brougham Street, Geelong 3220 (8.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday) 
18-20 Hancock Street, Drysdale, 3222 (9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday)

If at first you don’t succeed ...
This is the second time that Poligot has sought planning permission for this project. Its 2004 application was rejected in 2005 by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) because it was concerned about the area’s future.

The current application asserts that the development of new housing estates on the western side of Jetty Road makes the proposed childcare centre compatible with the current character of the area, even though the site of the proposed centre is in a Rural Living zone.

Poligot’s application refers to VCAT’s 2005 decision as follows:
The Tribunal, at that time, determined that the application was premature and was concerned about the general future of the locality. In the meantime, land in the surrounding area, to the west of Jetty Road, has been rezoned and is in the process of development for residential purposes ... (and so) ... it cannot be argued that the proposal is not compatible with nearby uses also permitted in the Rural Living zone.’

What happened to rural living?
Poligot’s proposal for a child care centre in a Rural Living zone is almost concurrent with Milemaker Petroleum’s proposal to build a Caltex service station in the same Rural Living zone, near the Jetty Road / Portarlington Road roundabout*. Both proposals raise the same question: what sorts of development are a) appropriate and b) inappropriate in a Rural Living zone?

Rural Living zones permit low density housing, with the aim of protecting and enhancing the area’s natural resources and biodiversity, together with its landscape and heritage values. The zones are ‘green spaces’, often forming a buffer between a town and its rural surroundings.

Most local people who lodged formal objections to the proposed Caltex service station on the grounds that it would be inappropriate in a Rural Living zone and would be inconsistent with CoGG’s Structure Plan for Drysdale, which aims to retain the town's 'rural character'. Further, at a public meeting in Drysdale on 30 April, around seventy local people rejected the proposed service station unanimously as inappropriate in a Rural Living zone.

On the face of it, such major commercial ventures as a service station and a 103-place child care centre are obviously incompatible with the character and aims of a Rural; Living zone. However, the regulations defining these zones contain a crucial loophole. While certain types of development within them are prohibited (e.g. nightclub, office, cinema, amusement parlour), others can occur at the discretion of the local council. Poligot and Milemaker Petroleum each argue in their application that their proposal falls within the council’s discretion.

Poligit argues as follows:
‘03.1 The land is within a Rural Living zone as designated by the Greater Geelong Planning Scheme.
03.4 A child care centre is a section 2, permit required use in the zone (clause 35.03-1)
03.5 It is noted that as a child care centre is NOT a prohibited use in the zone the planning scheme must, by inference, anticipate that the use would be able to be located in the zone in certain circumstances.
03.6 It would be wrong to treat the proposal as though it were a prohibited use.’

Will the council be even-handed in exercising its discretion? It’s worth remembering two things:
1. The council’s Drysdale Clifton Springs Structure Plan (2011) designates the site of the proposed child care centre as ‘Maintain rural residential character’ (Greater Geelong Planning Scheme 21 14-10 ‘Drysdale Clifton Springs Structure Plan map’)
BUT ...
2. The draft Drysdale Clifton Springs Structure Plan (2009) contained this telling remark: ‘Rural Living land is an inefficient use of land and is most often a constraint to future residential growth opportunities.' (p. 10).

In summary: CoGG has the discretion to accept or reject Poligot’s application to build a 103-place child care centre in a Rural Living zone, just as it has the discretion to accept or reject Milemaker Petroleum’s application to build a Caltex service station centre in the same Rural Living zone. In each case, acceptance would be contrary to the council’s long-stated policies for the area’s future, raising serious doubt about the value of long-term planning and, indeed, of the council’s Planning Department.

(Poligot p/l operates in Geelong West and describes its activities as ‘architecture, planning and advocacy’.)

* For more information, see previous articles on this blog:
‘Council rebuffs service station objectors’ (17 April 2014)
‘In whose interest: Caltex or community?’ (16 April 2014)
‘Exercising “discretion” - who benefits?’ (17 March 2014)
‘Council dismisses environmental and economic objections to service station’ (13 March 2014)
‘Service station proposal challenges planning laws and practices’ (30 January 2014)


  1. Has anyone from the new estates been asked their opinion on the new child care centre or service station? Has anyone with young families been also asked these questions? And what about all the traffic which truns left at Jetty road to go down to the boat ramp- I bet the new service station will be very busy. Drysdale and Clifton Springs areas (which share the same post code with a few other suburbs and many more suburbs on the Bellarine peninsula would love some upgrades and be involved in the growing of the Bellarine). Drysdale and Clifton Springs were once rural. If people keep pushing away progress, future jobs, etc and more residential grows then all the funds will keep going elsewhere and not the Bellarine. I am sick and tired of the negative opinions on how it will affect the people against progress and not the opinions that matter the most- the future generations of 3222 and the rest of the Bellarine.

    1. Thanks for your comment.
      1. Residents of the new estates - just like anyone else - can lodge letters of support or objection to any application for planning permission.
      2. You're right - the Drysdale & Clifton Springs area was once rural. The council's own Structure Plan for the towns states that it intends to retain the area's rural character. Neither a Caltex service station nor a 103-place childcare centre will contribute to the area's rural character; each will detract from it. Massive development is changing the area already; people objecting to the service station and child care centre are just saying, 'Leave us some green open spaces amongst these new houses and shops.'; and council policy says the same.
      3. 'Progress' is a loaded word! It generally means 'What I want, even if you don't'. Objectors to these two proposals would say that covering the Bellarine Peninsula with wall-to-wall housing estates is anything but progress, because it will eliminate the very qualities that attract people to live here. If these sorts of developments go ahead, those 'future generations' you refer to will live in an urban area, not a 'green' one.
      4. Your concern about jobs is well-founded. The council approved the Jetty Road plans, although they contained not a single job, nor any increased presence by police and emergency services, even though the estate will eventually house around 6,000 people. Is that 'progress'?

  2. when will the child care centre, new medical centre and woolworths be built?

    1. Thanks for your comment.

      At this stage, I don't think that there are any definite start and finish dates for any of those projects; and the child care centre and medical centre don't even have planning permission yet.
      For a definite answer, contact the council's Planning Department either directly or via a council customer service centre.

  3. Does anyone know when the new coles supermarket will be finalised. Hopefully it will be as great as the renovated one in Corio or even better, like the new one at Waurn Ponds. The woolworths in Drysdale is outdated, very awkward car parking, sloping car park and very messy for drivers as well as tired landscaping. Hopefully this Woolworths will have a major overhaul once the new one in Curlewis is built. And so it can compete with the new Coles and Aldi. Any news as to when child care centre will start construction as I caw surveyors camping there for a couple of days. It will be great for our local community and the growth of post code 3222 and surrounding post codes. quite a few child care centres are outdated, small, and have ether little or no car parking so the new one will address all these issues, plus they will be landscaping it which be very nice. These new building and investment into our community is great, they are beautifying unused, weed infested, dumping grounds, falling to bits properties. These large supermarket chains will not invest in the area unless they were 100% sure it was worth their 100's of millions of $$. Bring it.

    1. Thanks for your comment.

      I don't think that there is a definite start or finish date for the Woolworths supermarket.

      The child care centre has yet to receive planning permission. What you thought was a surveyor was, in fact, an archaeologist checking whether the site contains any significant artefacts from the Wathaurong people - the original owners of the land.

      The 'unused, weed infested, dumping grounds' that you refer to are owned by property speculators who bought them in the belief that at some future date they will be profitable. As speculators, they have no interest in maintaining the land, only in selling it.

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