How does Bass Coast Shire Council feel about the future of the Shire? ‘Excited’, ‘confident’ and ‘proud’ are all words used by Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Brett Tessari.
Infrastructure Victoria’s recent report ‘Growing Victoria’s Potential – April 2019’ identifies Bass Coast as one of the highest areas for projected population change from 2016-2031, with an increase of over 30 per cent.
“Bass Coast is seeing significant investment, both publicly and privately, which highlights the growth in our area,” Cr Tessari said.
“For example: two brand new secondary college campuses, a significant hospital upgrade and a community hospital for Phillip Island, at an estimated investment of well over $200 million from the State Government. In addition to this, is of course the $58 million redevelopment of the Penguin Parade and a large scale hotel and conference centre proposed in Coronet Bay. These projects alone would generate over 1,100 permanent jobs for our community.”
The Coronet Bay development is currently in early planning stages and is yet to receive planning approval. Developers are engaging with Council and the community through information sessions and gathering feedback.
Cr Tessari went on to explain that Wonthaggi is recognised as a Regional Centre in Plan Melbourne and its population is estimated to double in the next 12 years.
“This population and economic growth will undoubtedly place pressure on our community,” Cr Tessari said.
“The most important challenge will be finding the balance between healthy growth and development and preserving our natural environment and the character which makes Bass Coast such a special place.”
To formalise planning controls which would focus on retaining natural amenity and landscape, Council advocated to the State Government in 2018 to have Bass Coast declared as a Distinctive Area Landscape (DAL). Council were successful in securing this as an election commitment and are currently working with the Department of Environment, Water Land and Planning to progress the DAL.
Council has also developed the Draft Wonthaggi Activity Centre Plan which is currently open for feedback. This Plan will help guide future investment and development in Wonthaggi, similar to how the Cowes Activity Centre Plan catalysed and led the development of the Cowes Transit Centre ($2.4 million) and Jetty Triangle ($2.2 million) projects.
To cater for the predicted population growth, Council has developed the Wonthaggi Northeast Precinct Structure Plan, which includes around 4,400 residential lots and 70 hectares of Commercial and Industrial land. Funding to facilitate key infrastructure for this Plan is one of Council’s current Advocacy Priorities.
“Our advocacy priority list represents the top 10 most pressing needs for the Bass Coast community,” Cr Tessari explained.
“Securing and attracting funding towards advocacy projects which require a collaborative approach, such as coastal erosion and tertiary education, will be challenging, but we are working hard to put ourselves in the best position.
“We will continue to advocate to seek investment from higher levels of government and private investment. It is through collaborative investment and partnerships that the future of Bass Coast will not only survive, but thrive.”