Mornington Peninsula Shire (MPS) is currently undertaking two projects which we feel are important to the future character of Shoreham. These are the:
Coastal Villages & Neighbourhoods Strategy (CVS)
Neighbourhood Character Study and Guidelines (NCS).
There are strong similarities:
Both the CVS and NCS projects are concerned with improving built form outcomes - and both crossover the Western Port settlements including Shoreham.
Both identify built form “typologies” applicable to each township with associated design guidelines.
Both projects have been let to the same contractor: Ethos Urban.
Although the CVS project commenced earlier, both projects now seem to be tracking together on essentially the same timelines.
There are some differences:
The CVS project considers the potential impacts of coastal climate change on villages and neighbourhoods along Western Port Bay and nearby areas. The objective is to deliver design and character frameworks for individual settlements that will guide future development to respond to threats of coastal erosion, flooding, sea level rise and storm surge over the next 15 to 20 years.
The CVS project is fully funded by DELWP (the Department of Environment, Lands, Water and Planning).
CVS provides guidance for commercial, industrial and foreshore areas within the townships, and also considers the crucial role and character impact of residential areas.
The NCS provides the next level of detail in residential assessment and guidance – the overall principles of which have been integrated into the CVS project.
The end result will be a series of comprehensive Design and Character Frameworks for each Western Port township including Shoreham.
From Shoreham’s point of view, we’ll treat the NCS as if it is bundled into the CVS project.
Coastal Villages & Neighbourhoods Strategy
Mornington Peninsula Shire (MPS) is undertaking a Coastal Villages Study towards preparation of a suitable Strategy.
At the heart of this work is the definition and protection of the character of the Western Port coastal villages including Shoreham. We expect the outcomes of this work will be very important for Shoreham and note that the entire project is required to be completed by 30-6-2019.
The outcomes are to include a design and character framework for each village. These will inform future planning – how Shoreham will look, what specific planning controls will be put in place, the quality of our built environment, impacts on our landscapes and the response to climate change.
The work will inform future planning – how Shoreham will look, what specific planning controls will be put in place/retained, the quality of our built environment, impacts on our landscapes and, especially, the response to climate change. We believe the results will be very important for Shoreham for the next 20-30 years... The CVS impacts a specific set of towns on Western Port including Shoreham. As discussed above, a second study on Neighbourhood Character has also been initiated which covers the residential parts of the Shire more generally.
In common, both projects are:
• covering residential neighbourhood character in MP towns/villages
• being run by the same consultancy – Ethos Urban
• producing a series of comprehensive Design and Character Frameworks.
Key differences are that the Coastal Villages Study, which was fully funded by DELWP, also covers:
• commercial, industrial and foreshore land
• climate change – sea level rise in particular.
Climate Change is emphasised in the CVS tender brief and we understand the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) has provided funds for the consultancy to ensure that aspect is included and given high priority. Understandably, the document seems to focus on sea-level rises and the effects on storm surges, inundation and so forth. Nevertheless, we believe the study will inevitably also need to deal with the broader effects as well - such as flooding rainfall events and elevated bushfire risk. All aspects are obviously very important to Shoreham.
The Shire’s project approach is to include three phases of community and stakeholder engagement. The first consultation, undertaken outside the Post Office, was not that well attended by the community given it was a hot day and there was very short notice of the event from the Shire.
A delegation from the SCA later met with project representatives from the Shire and its consultants to better understand the project and to make contributions. The next round of consultation was initially planned for March - but will now take place mid-year in the May-June time-frame.
Shoreham’s Neighbourhood Character
Shoreham has been described as the last true coastal village on the Mornington Peninsula. Shoreham village is a small, quiet township with a long history of settlement – originally, predominately by primary producers.
Today, Shoreham village is framed by the Green Wedge on three sides and the Foreshore Reserve along its coastline. It has a unique mixture of “bush, beach and green”. The foreshore features unspoilt, very walkable and safe beaches as well as a very attractive bush campground complementing nearby reserves. The Shoreham Community has been active in protecting the Green Wedge and is on guard in relation to proposed changes to the management of the Western Port foreshore reserves – not least because adverse impacts on either will inevitably deleteriously affect the village too.
Shoreham village and its hinterland are primarily residential properties, weekenders, farming properties and (too) few properties devoted to bushland conservation. Shoreham village is relatively unspoilt – it has been fortunate to largely avoid the development onslaught affecting nearby villages and townships, such as Balnarring and Flinders, and the population growth affecting larger centres.
The Community believes that Shoreham has a unique character that deserves to be strongly protected. In the Shire’s Housing and Settlement Strategy produced earlier this year, the Shire does not anticipate coastal villages providing substantial contributions to the region’s capacity for population growth. Our village was bypassed by the Hastings-Flinders Road making it unattractive to passing trade and leaving the village a peaceful oasis with low-scale commercial services and no traffic issues. Local streetscapes evoke a very strong rural feel - close to nature and our rural beginnings.
Fundamentally flawed development proposals resulted in the premature closure of the General Store following significant community opposition. The Post Office survives as part of a larger, recent cafè/shops/holiday flats development which has an indefinite future.
We believe that additional protection is required in the zonings that apply to the village. Currently, there is a small C1Z (business) zone covering properties in Byrnes Road, large LDRZ (Low Density Residential) areas covering parts of the old Buxton Estate as well as two large GRZ1 (General Residential) areas applying to the higher density residential areas surrounding the village core and the seventies development off the Hastings-Flinders Road.
There are potential problems in particular with the GRZ1 areas. General Residential zones are designed to meet the requirements of suburban residential settlements – not the requirements of areas that should be protected. State Government changes over the past two years to the definition of the general residential zones threaten to enable development projects that are in conflict with the neighbourhood village character. A variety of Design and Development Overlays have, so far, served to protect Shoreham through additional provisions. However, they are not immune from State Government changes. We understand elimination of DDO overlays has been considered by DELWP, though not enacted (yet...), over the past 12 months - in its quest for simplification of the planning schemes and streamlining planning approvals.
We believe the GRZ areas should be redefined to NRZ (Neighbourhood Residential Zone) which offers higher levels of protection, better able to protect village character. Furthermore, we believe it would be desirable for the Shire to develop schedules to the zone which contain neighbourhood character statements and objectives to be achieved for the various parts of Shoreham. We foresee these being part of a framework that would apply to other villages in the Shire.
Climate Change is accentuated in the tender brief and we understand the Department of Environment Land, Water and Planning has fully funded for the consultancy to ensure that aspect is included and emphasised. Understandably, the document seems to focus on sea-level rises and the effects on storm surges, inundation and so forth.
At first glance, the village of Shoreham seems “safe” from the most obvious effects of climate change such as sea-level rises given that the village centre is high above a cliff face. However, our beaches and foreshore are threatened. Furthermore, our cliff faces are unstable and quite prone to erosion.
Our beaches are not only an important part of Shoreham’s character and local amenity, they provide habitat for locally threatened species such as the Red-capped Plover.
Furthermore, we believe the study will inevitably also need to deal with the broader effects of climate change as well - such as elevated bushfire risk and extreme weather including flooding rainfall events.
Drainage within Shoreham is already a significant issue. Some drains cannot cope with minor rainfall events right now – so significant work will be needed to avert catastrophic flooding and erosion as climate change takes hold.
Ultimately, we expect building codes, road verge vegetation and power line management will need to change in order to deal with stronger winds, elevated bush fire risk and so forth. The challenge will be incorporating these changes in new building and retrofitting important changes to existing housing without destructive impacts on local village character.
The next step is completion of the draft reports. They will go on 6 week exhibition (web, have your say, drop-in sessions etc) following approval in the May/June time-frame - depending on Council and DELWP approvals.