Rezoning of Port Albert land to residential

LAND around Port Albert will be rezoned to allow for up to 17 more residential properties.

Following extensive community consultation, Wellington Shire Council has adopted many of the recommendations from the Port Albert Rural Lifestyle Lots Review.

The report, which council considered on Tuesday, December 2, was prepared by an independent consultant to assess the extent of land which could potentially be rezoned around the fringes of Port Albert to allow opportunities for larger rural lifestyle lots.

A planning scheme amendment process to formally implement the recommendations of the review is expected to begin in early 2015, providing the opportunity for further community input.

The report covered nine precincts around Port Albert and Langsborough, with recommendations to keep areas to the east as farming zone.

However, if there is strong residential growth in the town, council will review the potential for more rezoning.

Wellington Shire mayor Carolyn Crossley said council was keen to ensure the Port Albert community was kept informed and involved throughout the review process.

“This has been achieved through community consultation sessions, newsletters, meetings with key stakeholders and community groups and opportunities for residents to provide their feedback on draft documents,” she said.

“Despite various land use planning constraints around the town, the final report has found that there is some scope to provide rural living growth opportunities, which is positive progress for Port Albert.

“In response to community feedback we are also proposing to revise the zoning of the existing caravan park from the farming zone to the rural activity zone to better reflect the importance of the site as a tourism asset for Port Albert.

“Council will continue working with the community of Port Albert and will review the potential for further rural residential rezoning if strong growth rates of residential lots are evident following the rezoning of land identified in this motion.”

Michael Hobson from the Port Albert Progress Association said more land should be made available for development.

Mr Hobson said unnecessary restraints had been placed on development in town. He said it began in 2007 with the creation of farming zones, which had a “terrible impact on the community”.

“Approximately 240 lots surrounding the town became farm zone,” Mr Hobson said.

“One of the significant drivers to attract people to our area dried up. Rural residential development ground to a halt and it’s stayed that way for far too long.

“People who purchased land on the outskirts of town could no longer obtain a planning permit to build their home and many walked away.”

In recent years there has been uncertainty surrounding a planning scheme amendment relating to land subject to inundation.

“The combination of these issues created so much anger amongst the people that in 2012, a newly-elected council, on one of its first community meetings, bore the brunt of this dissatisfaction that was so apparent in our town,” Mr Hobson said.

The review was begun in response to community planning concerns.

“The message from the community has been a constant one: demand. Local people, real estate agents and all dates up to 2007 demonstrate a strong demand for rural residential lifestyle properties,” he said.

“Larger allotments in the country close to the sea are attractive to many people who want a rural lifestyle.”

A motion put forward by Cr Patrick McIvor to not adopt the recommendation, but investigate further opportunities for rural lifestyle lots, was defeated.

“I think we shouldn’t lose sight of what we intended to do, we originally set out to identify more rural lifestyle lots in Port Albert.

“Because this is what Port Albert resoundingly communicated to us is their vision for the community,” Cr McIvor said.

“It’s really not our job to just look at constraints and why it’s not possible, it’s actually our job to empower the community to achieve their community vision.”