More than 60 members of the Sandy Point community turned out to learn more and to air their views on the South Gippsland Shire Council’s “investigation into the future of a caravan and camping ground in Sandy Point.”
The council conducted a drop-in question-and-answer session on the issue at the Sandy Point Community Centre on Thursday afternoon and evening October 3, 2019.
The session began at 4 pm and before long the community centre was thronged with local residents and property owners wanting to find out about the council’s support for a new caravan and camping ground to replace the existing privately-owned caravan park, currently the subject of a subdivision application.
An internal shire report entitled Sandy Point Caravan and Camping Ground Site Investigation, commissioned in 2018 and presented to the council in June 2019, looked at potential alternatives to the existing Sandy Point Caravan Park on Beach Parade.
The report looked at four sites around Sandy Point: the present caravan park; southeast of Manuka Street; and north of Ash Avenue and Harbour View.
The fourth site, rural land to the west of Telopea Drive and Wattle Court, was recommended in the report as the preferred site, which the administration panel acting as the council voted to support at its June 2019 ordinary meeting.
At the question- and-answer session, an artists’ impression of the future caravan and camping ground indicated that there would be more than 100 caravan sites and more than 100 camping sites, adjacent to the rear of existing houses to the west of Ash Avenue and Telopea Drive.
Shire council acting director of development services Paul Stampton and strategic planner Lyndal Peterson were present at the session and seemed to spend much of their time answering similar questions about the plan over and over again.
Some Sandy Point community members were completely against the proposal for a range of reasons, including that it was not needed, that the council’s preferred site was too close to permanent residents’ houses, that there would too many people accommodated within the park as depicted in the artists’ impression, and that the impact on the environment would be too great.
“The artists’ impression looks more like a fait accompli!” one property owner said.
Other locals thought that such a park but perhaps not on quite such a large scale might be a good idea if it was located in the right place and that water supply and effluent treatment issues were properly resolved.
One local thought a new caravan and camping ground would help ensure the future of the businesses in Sandy Point because of the extra tourists it would attract.
Quite a number of community members expressed their opinion that the question and answer session was the wrong way to approach the issue and that a formal presentation may have been better to allow the council officers to present their information more clearly and local people to put their views.
Mr Stampton agreed that the council “may have made a wrong call” on the format of the session, given the number of people who attended.
He said the council supported the idea of a caravan and camping ground at Sandy Point because of the economic benefits to the town itself and the South Gippsland region.
Mr Stampton urged the community to take part in the online survey on the issue at www.oursay.org/southgippsland/sandypointcaravanpark or lodge a written submission before 5 pm on the now extended deadline of Monday Friday October 28, 2019.
The Sandy Point Community Group (SPCG) is considering holding a public meeting on the proposed caravan and camping ground, possibly during the coming Melbourne Cup long weekend in early November, when many community members are in town.
SPCG membership secretary Phil Cornwell said the group was looking at putting together an information sheet to circulate with the group’s “considered and consolidated position” and an overview of the council’s idea.
Mr Cornwell said Mr Stampton has offered to attend “a town hall meeting” as arranged by the group.
“We urge all community members to direct their concerns and comments straight to the council via its survey or by letter now,” he said.“This proposal is a fairly significant one for Sandy Point and everyone needs to state their views.”