David Morris MP addresses the FCA on issues affecting the Mornington Peninsula

David Morris MP addresses the FCA on issues affecting the Mornington Peninsula

Around 70 FCA members attended a Community Meeting in the Flinders Hall on 29 October 2017 to hear a talk by the Hon David Morris MP, State Member for Mornington and the Shadow Minister for Finance.

David noted that planning on the Mornington Peninsula has had a long and effective history. In the late 1960’s both Mornington and Flinders Shires had their own planning schemes. Henry Bolte had proposed the industrialization of Hastings and for the Moorooduc Plains to be developed as a vast dormitory suburb. Fortunately local people protested. In the 1970’s Alan Hunt (father of the current Federal Minister Greg Hunt) with the then Premier Hamer directed planning studies that resulted in Statement of Planning Policy No 2. The statement set the direction for the protection of the Mornington Peninsula and began the process that continues today.

David Morris was elected to State Parliament in 1987. It was about this time that dual occupancy was proposed as a planning solution by the Department of Planning. This policy change had little effect on the Mornington Peninsula towns as planning requirement were proscriptive ie. they specified frontage and side boundary setbacks etc. People had certainty as to what they could expect and VCAT appeals were rare. During the late 1990’s performance based requirements were introduced giving more discretion but as a result many more applications went to VCAT.

In 2000 the Mornington Peninsula became part of the metropolitan area. At the same time purportedly stringent controls in the Green Wedge were introduced. In fact these new controls weakened planning. Many planning applications were considered in the context of Metropolitan needs – no distinction being made between Richmond or Mornington. Crucially the Shire, through Alan Cowley, introduced Overlay controls in the residential zones and protected many areas. The 1980’s mind set continues in the Government leading to the most recent changes to the Residential Zones. The Planning Minister takes direction from the Department. David cited the example of a decision by Minister Madden on reducing the subdivision minima in the Mt Eliza Woodland area contrary to Council and resident submissions.

The problem for the General Residential Zones of the MPS is that while 66% are covered by overlays (DDO) some 33% are not protected. The references in the Planning Scheme to objectives relating to “Neighbourhood Character” have been taken out in preference for emphasis on development and growth. The Overlays are under threat from unlimited pursuit of higher densities. Minister Wynn when asked if two houses per lot was the aim, responded “or more”. The overlays are to be reviewed and because they are essentially contrary to the promotion of growth concept, the review is likely to have a killer impact, despite Council trying to hold the line.

David Morris said that the Liberal Party was committed to winding back the recent changes and restoring the Neighbourhood Residential Zone and character provisions. As a community we need to make clear what our views are. Pressure for overdevelopment is not yet as bad as it could become.