Council to claim coastal properties

ANOTHER step has been taken towards resolving the long-running issue of inappropriate subdivisions along the Ninety Mile Beach.

Wellington Shire Council will ask Planning Minister Richard Wynne to recommend a new “notice of declaration” be made for the area, which includes acquiring land if its owner cannot be found.

The notice will extend the area of land under the current declaration, made in 1988 under the former Rosedale Shire Council, to include flood-affected and coastal beach dune lots.

The issue stretches back to the 1950s, when coastal lots were sold, including some through the unscrupulous targeting of immigrants.

During the 1970s it became apparent the land was unsuitable for development because of issues such as eroding coastal soils, poor conditions for effluent disposal and high quality vegetation and landscape.

Most land owners have been unable to build on their property, sparking decades of protest and calls for fair compensation.

In 2011 council introduced permanent planning controls to prohibit development of land on inappropriate subdivisions between Golden Beach and Glomar Beach.

A moratorium on development within established settlement areas was adopted by council in 2007 along with a voluntary assistance scheme with owners offered compensation to relinquish their lots.

Council chief executive David Morcom said since 2011, council had made progress to resolve the issue and protect the environmentally sensitive coastline from inappropriate development.

“The notice of declaration would also allow council to acquire land if those with an interest in the land cannot be contacted or found, or where those with an interest are willing to transfer the land to council but are unable to do so due to the lack of documentation available,” he said.

“It is important to note that council will only compulsory acquire land after searches have been attempted but are unsuccessful because those with an interest cannot be contacted or found. It is not the intention of council to acquire land from owners that have registered in writing that they do not wish to transfer their land to council.

“This is a positive step forward for landowners of flood affected and coastal beach dune land who want to transfer their land to council. It will also benefit the general community as council will be able to develop and implement future public land management strategies in partnership with Parks Victoria, the Country Fire Authority and other relevant agencies and government departments.”