By Justin Flynn
The state government’s decision to permanently protect the Bellarine Peninsula from over development has raised concerns from locals that the damage had already been done.
Minister for Planning Richard Wynne declared the region a Distinctive Area and Landscape under the Planning and Environment Act 1987.
However, some are saying it’s too little, too late as locals took to social media to say the damage had already been done with housing developments rampant across the peninsula.
Ocean Grove Community Association president Phil Edwards said the move was positive, but needed to be monitored.
“This is a great first step however the next step by DELWP in developing the Statement of Planning Policy is critical to protecting the Bellarine and Ocean Grove from over development,” Mr Edwards said on behalf of OGCA.
“The risk of continued over development currently still exists.
“At this very moment developers are seeking to change the existing Ocean Grove town boundary to open up the land on the western side of Grubb Road and also the north of the existing Kingston/Oakdene developments.
“Developers and some land owners are doing this through the state government’s Independent Panel process which is now in progress.
“COGG position, which we support, is that the Ocean Grove town boundary should not change.”
Mr Wynne said the Bellarine Peninsula was an iconic destination.
“These permanent protections will ensure locals and tourists alike can continue to enjoy the beautiful Bellarine Peninsula,” he said.
“This iconic Victorian destination deserves protection and I’m proud to be part of ensuring this happens.”
The state government said the declaration followed consultation with local communities, council and Traditional Owners to ensure the unique features of the Bellarine peninsula are recognised and prepared for long-term protection.
A Statement of Significance is included in the declaration outlining the cultural, spiritual and heritage importance of the area to the Wadawurrung People.
The move came after the Surf Coast was also declared a Distinctive Area and Landscape last month.
A second phase of public engagement is being planned for late 2019 to early 2020 which provides an opportunity to provide input on the policy directions.
A further phase of public engagement will occur next year on the draft Statement of Planning Policy, which will include a public submissions.