THE ongoing discussion about growth in Torquay has taken a huge twist, with Labor candidate for South Barwon Darren Cheeseman promising no development in the Spring Creek valley and a two-storey height limit for most of Torquay if his party wins the state election.
The pledge, if carried out, would effectively throw out the precinct structure plan the Surf Coast Shire has developed for the one kilometre of land west of Duffields Road.
“We need to fundamentally change the planning arrangements for the township to protect our unique coastal community,” Mr Cheeseman said.
“The community has said consistently for the past 10 years that they do not want development in the Spring Creek area or the valley. This land needs to be zoned as a farming zone, with Duffields Road set as the western boundary of Torquay.”
Labor would also remove Torquay’s growth node status, which Mr Cheeseman said “greedy developers have for too long used as a tool to force their developments through VCAT, and in doing so to subvert and undermine the wishes of the shire and the community”.
The height limit for Gilbert Street would be set at three storeys, with the limit for the rest of Torquay including The Esplanade set at two storeys; the northern town boundary would also be locked in at South Beach Road; and Thompson Creek Valley would be protected for farming use, including the opportunity for horticulture through the provision of the Class A recycled water.
“I have spoken to hundreds of local residents on the streets and at their doorsteps, and these proposals reflect the overwhelming will of the community,” Mr Cheeseman said.
Opposition to housing in the Spring Creek dates back years, to the 2,500-strong Red Rally in 2009 if not further, and the shire has had to grapple with both Labor and Liberal governments that have moved the town growth boundary and come into conflict with the shire’s own planning policies.
Mr Cheeseman’s commitment follows Labor’s pledge in September to protect both the Surf Coast and the Bellarine Peninsula from over-development.