PLANNING is still at a very early stage, with a land rezoning application yet to be considered, but Walkerville landowner Jeremy Rich has unveiled his family’s grand plans for a coastal village to be designed by one of Australia’s most celebrated architects, Peter McIntyre.
At a public presentation to South Gippsland Shire Council last Wednesday, Mr Rich and Mr McIntyre talked up the proposal and handed out copies of a large-format glossy brochure which in words and full-colour photographs promotes the concept of Walkerville Coastal Village.
The Rich family are applying to have land at 2075 Walkerville Road rezoned for a village of 80 houses on two-acre (approximately 8000 square metres) blocks. The land is part of their property, ‘Marapana Moroya,’ which they have farmed for over 45 years. They currently produce high quality lamb and beef and they recently planted a vineyard. The land in question adjoins the 1960s subdivision ‘Promontory Views Estate,’ but the new subdivision will be very different.
Planned for Walkerville is a village akin to Peter McIntyre’s acclaimed Dinner Plain development near Mt Hotham, insofar as the dwellings will complement the natural environment and the development process will follow the same principles. As Mr McIntyre explained, construction would commence with a central building to be used as a prototype. Roads and services would follow, and then each of the two-acre blocks would be offered for sale complete with a design for a dwelling in the character of the prototype. Although a limited palette of materials will be used, the prototype design will have the flexibility for each house to be reinvented to suit individual family needs.
A feature of the planned development is a general store/community centre or ‘Providore,’ displaying and selling local produce and including a restaurant.
Questions about waste management were raised in early discussions with the shire council, and the Rich family engaged the services of a leading soil scientist, Robert van de Graaff, to come up with a proposal. He came up with a system that includes water sensitive urban design and wetlands. He explained: “This overall system will make certain that the wastewater treatment in the development will have no effect on the downstream storm water system or quality of the storm water runoff.”
The proponents of the village foresee benefits for the local and the wider South Gippsland community. As they see it:
From a construction perspective, the ongoing development of the village will provide opportunities for local trades people for years to come;
Peter McIntyre’s unique architectural designs will result in South Gippsland becoming a place of architectural significance;
New amenities such as a traditional general store with petrol pump, a gallery space for local artists, a restaurant and a cellar door will enhance the sense of local community as well as encourage day-trippers into the area;
New walking tracks, playgrounds and barbecue facilities will improve local leisure opportunities;
Property in the general area will increase in desirability and value;
New dwellings will result in extra council revenue to help maintain the local infrastructure;
Walkerville Village will be situated above the delicate Walkerville coastline, ensuring the timeless beauty of this area is preserved.
At last week’s presentation, councillors, for the most part, expressed enthusiasm for the proposed development, though Cr Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks suggested the village would not be a drawcard for tourists so much as an opportunity for city dwellers to purchase weekenders and hence do little to boost the shire’s economy. Mr McIntyre said that he expected many of the houses would be leased out as holiday rentals to cover the rates bills, which are expected to be substantial.
“It sounds very attractive and very ambitious and is what the area needs,” Coastal-Promontory Ward Councillor Mohya Davies later told ‘The Mirror.’ “Dinner Plain has been a great success, and South Gippsland needs investment in high quality infrastructure.” She pointed out, however, that there are still a number of hurdles to cross before the Rich family’s vision is realised. “The development is not identified in any of the strategic documents currently on the table,” said Cr Davies.