Opinion is divided on the appropriateness of a townhouse development proposed for the popular local seaside resort of Sandy Point.
The owner of the local caravan park, Chris Cope, is planning to build another seven two-storey townhouses to add to the three he constructed in recent years on the edge of the park in Ocean View Parade.
“He plans to build three behind the original three and a further four on Surfers Walk,” says Sandy Point resident Marlene Abela, who is leading a campaign of opposition to the development proposal.
“I’m not against development per se, but this is not a good development for Sandy Point,” says Ms Abela. “The size of the development is out of scale with the existing neighbouring properties in terms of height and overall size.”
It is Ms Abela’s view that the current townhouses are an eyesore. “They are not in keeping with the visual appearance of the area and the character of the street. They stand out and are not good architecture. My major concern, however, is that this development will set a precedent for future inappropriate development of the site. It’s not what Sandy Point’s about.”
Mr Cope said that he was surprised and disappointed when he heard that objections had been raised to this latest stage of what has all along been planned as a ten-unit development. He said that all he is doing now, in effect, is reactivating a permit.
He said that he has made no secret of the fact that ten units are planned. A model of the project is in the window of local real estate agency SEJ. “It’s been there for six years or so and there are brochures around, too.”
Mr Cope said he appreciated that people had a right to object, “but I’m disappointed when they object without knowing the facts”.
He said that he had spoken with Ms Abela and tried to apprise her of the facts.
“This project was given permission to go ahead some five years ago. It went to VCAT, and VCAT changed our original design to the current design, which was designed by a leading environmental architect. He also designed the surf life saving club, which has won environmental design awards.”
The townhouses, added Mr Cope, boast the only EPA-approved multi-unit sewerage system in Sandy Point. It was set up and approved for ten units.
Already more than 60 people have added their voice to that of Ms Abela and sent objections to the latest expansion of the development to South Gippsland Shire Council’s planning department. A planning application is currently with Council. It was on public exhibition only until mid-December, but Ms Abela says she has been told by the shire that even though the planning application is no longer on display people can still send submissions to the shire for some time yet – up until the next shire meeting, which is not scheduled until February 22.
Ms Abela is concerned that some people may have seen the planning application advertised and not realised its significance.
“It was put up in front of the existing townhouses, so it gave the impression that it related to alterations to the existing dwellings, but when you read the fine print you realised that it in fact referred to seven additional two-storey townhouses. It was quite misleading.”
Ms Abela is inviting people to contact her to discuss the issue – by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone her mobile on 0439 368 538 (she is happy to call back). You can also visit sandypointvictoria.blogspot.com.
Mr Cope, meanwhile, remains mystified by all the fuss and added: “I find it strange that the people objecting to my townhouses didn’t object to the new community building at Sandy Point. It is of a modern design and is under construction less than 100 feet away. I would like to know why no one objected to that!”