Our ever-changing coast: The 12 Apostles near Port Campbell. CORANGAMITE Shire Councillors have gone against an independent planning panel and will plough on with their push for new tourist development along the coast.
Nanjing Night Net

Before a full public gallery on Tuesday night, councillors voted unanimously to adopt the controversial planning scheme amendment C30, after Cr Ruth Gstrein moved the motion.

They rejected the panel’s recommendation to abandon the rezoning of sites on farmland west of Port Campbell and at the Peterborough airstrip, instead citing the need for future accommodation facilities. Coastal Ward councillor Steve Cumming, who owns the airstrip, declared a conflict of interest in the decision and removed himself from the vote.

Cr Gstrein said it was unusual for council to vote against a planning panel report but she had considerable misgivings with the document.

“Rezoning land is not the end, it’s the beginning of tourism in the area,” she said.

“With the expected growth we need to plan carefully. Rezoning is the first step in a long process.

“We certainly do not want to destroy the very reason people visit the shire.”

For mayor Matt Makin the key reason for his support was the economic opportunity which he said was right on the shire’s doorstep. “To me it’s about jobs,” he said.

“It’s about encouraging new businesses and supporting existing businesses. It would be remiss not to shore-up economic investment.

“In my view there has been ample opportunity to communicate with council.”

Cr Makin said any talk about the high cost of the study was “absolute nonsense”. He said it had cost between $200,000 and $300,000, which was in excess of initial expectations.

“By us incurring the cost on behalf of the 17 sites, it’s the kick-start,” he said.

“It’s the best dollars spent in my years on council. At a micro-level it’s challenging to work out what Port Campbell wants.”

Cr Chris O’Connor said he had been bewildered by some of the comments made about the plan.

He highlighted a submission by the Port Campbell Community Group and said he wasn’t sure if they represented the community.

“You can never get it 100 per cent right,” he said.

Cr O’Connor said he knew from personal experience the pressure placed on investors when there was doubt in the planning scheme.

“People need to understand we can’t just lock up the coast,” he said.

“You can’t resist other people’s attempts to share in your good fortune.”

He said ordinary people’s opinions were just as important as those of professors in Ivanhoe. Cr Geoff Smith said the community needed to understand that councillors visited the sites for a first-hand look.

“The worst thing to do is to do nothing,” he said. “Council would be remiss in their duty to the public if they didn’t go down this course.”

Cr Michael Absalom said he firmly believed that development was going to happen. ” Doing what we’re doing is the responsible way to attract appropriate tourism to appropriate sites,” he said.

The shire has earmarked land west of Port Campbell as a suitable site for a four-star resort while the Peterborough airstrip has potential for “aviation-related accommodation”.

Other sites given the green light for rezoning on Tuesday night included Camp Cooriemungle, land on the banks of Lake Purrumbete, Timboon’s Berryworld, Glenormiston College and at Mount Elephant.

Land rejected as unsuitable included the Loch Ard Bed and Breakfast and sites on the Great Ocean Road at Princetown and near the Great Ocean Walk at Princetown east.

The amendment will now be referred to the Minister of Planning Matthew Guy for approval.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.