Presented by AIDA President Barbara Fletcher at the ADA AGM in January 2011
I want to start this President’s Report where it usually finishes – with acknowledgement and thanks to all AIDA committee members for their unstinting efforts during the past twelve months. As individuals, each has brought to the committee specific expertise and insight, the expertise often learnt on the job, the insight part of the reason each joined the committee. As a group there is abounding good humour, collective support and relevance within the community which makes it all worthwhile. I am bringing this to the forefront tonight to ensure it is not lost on the back page, or missed when glazed eyes trawl through my report, because I am again appealing for anyone who may have the time and interest to nominate for the AIDA committee. Although our member numbers remain solid, the committee itself is getting smaller. If we are to remain ‘worth bottling’ as described in the last report, and as relevant, then we really need new blood, which is perhaps a rather unfortunate phrase in the circumstances of that quotation. We meet monthly, that is, only once a month, are very amiable and always aware of people’s ‘life issues’ affecting their ability to attend every meeting. Please give this some thought and contact me (0419 656 655) if you are able to assist us. Thank you.
Last year, 2010, again threw up some new challenges, some old ones continued and some returned in a different guise. Places have changed hands, new ideas were floated and we face the very real prospect of a different focus to Aireys in the proposal for a supermarket in the Bottom Shops area. I will now give a summary of some of the major issues in which AIDA has been active during this past year.
Split Point Lighthouse Precinct
This precinct has suffered traffic congestion and tourist influx for ten years or more with each commissioned traffic management plan proposed by various consultants ignoring the scale of the problem and the obvious limitation to visitor parking in the Step Beach car park. This has meant overflowing traffic, large buses, caravans and pedestrians all forced to compete for road and parking space outside designated parking areas. AIDA and local residents participated in the GORCC and council consultative processes, but were rightly alarmed when the final and revised report contained factual and technical errors. So, in April 2010, AIDA took the decision to not just comment on the proposed traffic management plan, but to put forward our own plan for traffic control both within and outside of the Lighthouse Precinct which we saw as reflecting and addressing the issues raised by residents.
AIDA is pleased to report that a modified form of this proposal was adopted by council in August 2010 and established in the minutes of the council meeting as a ten-point resolution. Our thanks must go to councillors for their interest and willingness to listen and to find a compromise solution to this problem. We will keep you as members updated on future progress on this extremely long, drawn-out issue.
As a side issue to this, the upgrading of Federal Street has been a well planned and sensitive development which has enhanced both tourist experience and local resident amenity. AIDA has congratulated council on the process and implementation of this upgrading.
I would like to move to another vexed issue and outline our difficulties with the AIDA Questionnaire.
As you are aware, AIDA has in the past sent a questionnaire to all ratepayers in the Aireys Inlet district in which community values and local environment and planning issues have been canvassed through a series of multiple-choice questions, and the responses collated. The return from the latest of these questionnaires, which was sent out in 1999, was an excellent 39 percent from members and non-members in almost equal proportion, which indicated a wide interest in the intent of the survey. The results from these have been used by AIDA to put forward local community perspectives on issues to both local and state governments, and also as evidentiary support to council – for example, statistics from the survey were used in underpinning the shire’s submission to the State Government Panel review of the draft Neighbourhood Character amendments to the Planning Scheme. AIDA recently revised the contents of the survey with the intention of circulating it again to all ratepayers and so enabling us to operate from a more modern data base. Unfortunately, we have come to grief on the provisions of the Privacy Act. The Surf Coast Shire feels it is no longer able to distribute our survey under the provisions of the Act in case of complaints from ratepayers. So in 2011 we will be forced to send out these surveys to members only, with limited post office distribution to local ratepayers. This will affect our ability to cite true comparisons to our other studies, but will at least give a quantitative basis in bringing forward local perspectives on local issues. So, could I urge you all please, in the interests of gaining this much-needed sequential data for future use, to complete and return these forms when you receive them, and to encourage any non-member Aireys ratepayers to do the same.
The recent change of government at state level means that some issues which were canvassed with the previous government may now need revisiting. One of those was the proposal contained in a White Paper released in November 2009 entitled Land and Biodiversity at a Time of Climate Change – Securing our Future. In July 2010, AIDA wrote to the then Minister Gavin Jennings expressing our concerns at proposals contained in the White Paper in which the Victorian Coastal Strategy was to be absorbed into a new Natural Resource and Catchment Management Act and reference to ‘coastal’ deleted from the title. It also recommended abolition of the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC), a scientific advisory committee whose role was to assess the need or otherwise to establish or incorporate areas into a national park – this was despite the Federal Government nominating the Victorian model as a benchmark.
The coalition’s stated pre-election policy was to continue the function of VEAC, and not to proceed with the amalgamation of the coastal councils, all to our delight. However, the rest of their environmental policies are not clear, and a quick look at their website shows a lack of any environment policy, despite policies in every other conceivable area. So we shall have to wait for clarity on the other recommendations contained in the White Paper and follow up as necessary.
Amend C55 and DDO15
One of the major issues AIDA was involved with during 2010 was the proposal to amend C55 and DDO15. Before I am accused of promulgating three- letter abbreviations, the C55 and DDO15 are planning objectives and controls related specifically to the commercial areas of Aireys Inlet. AIDA, along with the community as a whole, were invited to participate in, and subsequently did participate in, an excellent consultative process put in place by Surf Coast Shire during 2008 and reported on in the 2009 president’s report. In essence, the design guidelines which arose from this extensive consultation contained specific controls including height and setback limits, active frontages to the Painkalac Creek, and allowed for shared driveways and walkways through to the creek which aimed to give open space between buildings and to encourage pedestrian access to the creek frontage. The night light aspect of the Bottom Shops was to be respected by limiting the illumination and size of signage. My report looked forward to these being adopted by the Minister and implemented within 2010.
Unfortunately, council received objections to the guidelines, mainly from business interests behind the application for the supermarket in the Bottom Shops precinct, and so the guidelines were referred to a state government panel in September. This panel consisted of a single member who would hear all sides then recommend an outcome. AIDA had participated in panel hearings in the past and anticipated a reasonable hearing, but in this case felt we were not afforded the same right of hearing, nor the opportunity to rebut some of the more extravagant claims put forward by the barrister representing Bottom Shops commercial interests. We also believe that some of these claims have been wrongly used in the conclusions drawn in the report by the member.
Council has now to consider the report. It can adopt the amendment with or without changes, or it can abandon the amendment altogether. If adopted, it must be again sent to the Minister for planning for approval. AIDA has written to urge council to adopt the guidelines without change, which we consider properly reflect the community view of future development in the commercial areas, not the view of vested interests.
Planning issues have been covered in the newsletters, and perhaps one of the most contentious issues in the past year has been the proposal for a supermarket at 83 Great Ocean Road, in the Bottom Shops area. The rights and wrongs and commercial impacts of bringing a supermarket into Aireys Inlet will be constantly debated but AIDA submitted an objection to council based on non-compliance with the planning scheme and the proposed C55. There were over 120 objections to the proposal plus petitions, and the application was rejected by the Surf Coast planning officers and council. This matter has been referred to VCAT in April 2011, and if the C55 panel hearing is anything to go by, will be vigorously opposed by its proponents. Again we urge all who submitted an objection to attend the VCAT hearings to ensure their collective voice is heard.
Happily an application for 73 Great Ocean Road (Kalbaru) adhered mostly to the planning scheme, and even acknowledged the C55 amendment. There have been some changes proposed, and we await these before totally withdrawing our objections.
And even more happily, the planning department of the shire through their manager has implemented a review of the neighbourhood character overlay and its application or non-application in the Aireys area. AIDA was asked to submit developments which we considered were allowed to proceed in breach of the overlay, and were pleased to do so. We also expressed concern at what we considered to be the lack of consistency between planning officers in the application of the planning process. We will be very interested in the final report.
Surf Life Saving Club
And finally, our Surf Life Saving Club is due for a revamp. Negotiations regarding the building height and size have been held, and some modifications undertaken. AIDA has objected only to the proposed positioning and entry to the toilets on the basis of safety and accessibility as the proposal is to demolish the current toilet block and incorporate toilets instead into the bottom of the building with unisex entry.
As usual, planning issues have taken up a lot of the committee’s time, and will continue to do so I am sure in future years. We are lucky to have planning controls which aim to retain the unspoilt beauty of this area – now all we have to do is to ensure that they are maintained. We have been encouraged by the number of individuals who have contacted us with various concerns. The knowledge that AIDA has been able to follow up these issues and provide a focus for information and action gives true meaning to being a community association.
There have been changes to AIDA personnel over the past twelve months. In April we farewelled Dot Leslie who has designed and laid out our newsletter for many years and the distinctive illustrations within the articles will be well known to everyone. This is a voluntary position, and we thank Dot for her many years of excellent work – and her patience, as she was constantly made to wait for us tardy contributors. We have been fortunate to have gained as her replacement Nan McNab, who we welcome back and sincerely thank for taking up the role of editor and designer once again.
And I am deeply sorry to have to farewell two of our committee members – Graeme and Tania Teague. Both have been committee members for approximately seven years, and for the past six years Tania has acted as secretary and Graeme as minute secretary, an unenviable task at some of our meetings. On behalf of the committee I would thank them for all those years of service, for their input and assistance and to Tania for her unstinting, well- organised and outstanding time as secretary.
I would also thank Lecki Ord who has stepped in as membership officer, and has kept us in touch with membership statistics and also been responsible for instigating email contact with members. Your efforts are sincerely appreciated by the committee.
And to you as members, an appreciative thanks. Any organisation is only as strong as its membership and we, because of you, continue as a strong organisation. AIDA has been in existence for over forty years and has acted on behalf of the Aireys Inlet community in many, many matters over this time. And we will keep going as long as we are able – which brings me very neatly back full circle to the start of my report. I would like to again take the opportunity to ask your assistance and consideration in ensuring that AIDA is to continue to be as effective by nominating for committee positions. We will be calling for nominations later.