The Mirror News

Commonsense approach to planning for inundation

HOUSEHOLDERS have been broadly welcoming of an amendment to the Planning Scheme which has the potential to remove hundreds of lots from inundation controls.

The public still has time to make its views known, however, with Amendment C81‘Land Subject to Inundation Overlay (LSIO)’ still on public exhibition and written submissions welcomed until October 16.

The proposed Amendment, a joint project between South Gippsland Shire Council and the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA), aims to apply practical planning controls to land that is subject to inundation from waterways, rising sea levels and storm surges.

Many coastal areas already have the LSIO applied, however Amendment C81 changes this mapping and applies the LSIO to some urban areas in coastal townships for the first time. Coastal towns affected include parts of Venus Bay, Tarwin Lower, Sandy Point and Port Welshpool. Most of Port Welshpool will be included in the LSIO for the first time.

Taking advantage of improvements in mapping accuracy, Amendment C81 aims to provide a consistent approach to inundation controls across South Gippsland and ensure they are applied logically and fairly.

“The Amendment does not stop anybody from building a house in a coastal township where inundation controls were not previously applied,” said Council’s Acting Director of Development Services, Paul Stampton. “If you build the habitable areas of your new house above the flood level, the LSIO won’t even trigger the need for a planning permit. This is a commonsense approach to planning for flooding and protects the ability of landowners in township areas to build a dwelling on their land.”

Under the proposed Amendment only the land likely to be affected by inundation will have planning controls applied. At present in many areas, if part of a lot is subject to inundation, controls are applied across the entire property.

Another benefit of the proposed Amendment is that many more planning exemptions are included, meaning that permits may not be required for a range of building works and some farming and residential activities. This should also result in fewer planning permits being lodged at Council. The Amendment considers rising sea levels until the year 2100.

Council recently held drop-in sessions on the proposal in affected areas. The session at Tarwin Lower attended the most interest, with around 20 people dropping in to ask questions, while only a dozen or so went along to Sandy Point and Port Welshpool and even fewer to the Leongatha session. Written submissions are just starting to trickle in.

Mr Stampton refuted a suggestion from Port Welshpool landowner Roger Harvey that the LSIO could put off potential residents who would fear that they could be living in a flood-prone area. Mr Stampton sees the introduction of the Amendment as a positive move, as in many cases it provides an assurance that it is OK to build. Overall, more land has been removed from the LSIO than has been added to it, he pointed out.

People at the drop-in sessions, he said, acknowledged that the mapping generally showed areas which they knew to have been inundated in the past or they knew to be low-lying.

Mr Harvey said it was disappointing that Council was concentrating on private property, rather than looking to preserve entire town infrastructure.

Mr Stampton said that would be beyond Council’s resources. However, he said, Council might choose to make some attempt in the future to address such matters. Council has been looking at what other similar (i.e. rural coastal) municipalities are doing to meet the challenges of climate change.


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