The Mirror News

Walkerville action fizzles

OPPONENTS of a commercial/residential development at Walkerville didn’t know whether to be annoyed or relieved when South Gippsland Shire Councillor Andrew McEwen withdrew his Notion of Motion at the eleventh hour last Wednesday.

Half a dozen or so Walkerville residents who are known to oppose the development turned up to council chambers on the morning of the council meeting. They were fully expecting to do battle once more – four or five were listed on the schedule of Public Presentations – after hearing that Cr McEwen planned to submit the following motion to the meeting that afternoon: “That Council receive a report on the options available to the Council to amend the Local Planning Policy Framework to specifically provide support for the Walkerville Coastal Village.”

Cr McEwen was among a minority of councillors at the October 28 council meeting who voted against Council’s motion not to seek Authorisation from the Minister for Planning to prepare Planning Scheme Amendment C89 (a request to rezone 2075 Walkerville Road, Walkerville to a Special Use Zone ‘Walkerville Village Zone’).

Cr McEwen said later that he had decided to introduce the Notion of Motion because he felt that Council hadn’t looked at the merits of the third option available to Council – to make changes to the Planning Scheme that reflected that the Walkerville development proposal had a sewerage solution. However, he added, he had talked with the mayor, Cr Bob Newton, on Tuesday evening, and he had indicated that there might be some procedural issues with the motion. Cr McEwen had hopes that the original motion could be rescinded, but he was advised by shire CEO Tim Tamlin on the morning of the council meeting – just minutes before the public presentations were due to begin – that it was too late for a rescission motion, as action had started on the motion passed at the October 28 meeting.

“Let’s hope this is the end of it,” said a clearly annoyed Kevin Jones. The part-time Walkerville resident said that he and his daughter had travelled from Melbourne, where he runs a business, to present that day, only to be told that there was no need.

The other Walkerville residents were more circumspect in their comments, though they did express some relief that Cr McEwen’s latest attempt to advance the development had been thwarted.

Jeremy Rich, representing the family that is hoping to build Walkerville Village, made a brief presentation to Council. He began by handing out what he described as “the latest endorsements” of the project by local MP Danny O’Brien.

“Our goal is to ask for the project to be evaluated on its merits,” he said, arguing that the wastewater solutions which had been requested by Council’s planning department and subsequently developed with South Gippsland Water had not been taken into account in the report looking into the proposal.

“The planning report did not have all the information. All we’ve asked for the whole way through is for the project to be considered on its merits.”

Cr McEwen said that he had been advised by Mr Rich that the proponents would be taking the matter directly to the Planning Minister.


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