Surf Beach-Sunderland Bay Road Upgrades Approved

At its meeting on 15 March, Council adopted a preferred concept plan to improve roads and drainage in Surf Beach and Sunderland Bay. The proposed improvements intend to permanently resolve road and drainage related issues in the estates.

The preferred concept plan was guided by extensive community consultation undertaken over the last 17 months and responds to community feedback received through consultation. Council voted to take the next step and develop cost estimates and a proposed funding model including the distribution of costs for Concept Option 1 (with modifications).

This will allow property owners to make an informed decision, based on an agreed design option and funding model with apportioned costs on whether they would like to participate in the scheme.

While Council is responsible for maintaining local roads, rates do not cover the majority of costs in significant redevelopments like this one. Given the level of investment required, a Special Charge Scheme can be used so the residents who will benefit from the upgrades share in the cost.

Concept Option 1 (with modifications), the lowest cost option, includes road sealing, kerb and channel, underground drainage, meandering footpaths on only the main connector roads, road narrowings to slow traffic and vegetated swale drains at selected locations.

Council has responded to community feedback and revised the preferred concept plan to include reduce road widths, like Cape Woolamai, reduce the amount of footpaths, and use single lane road narrowings instead of speed humps for traffic calming, to reduce costs, avoid impacts on native vegetation and retain the characteristics of the area.

Bass Coast Shire Mayor, Cr Michael Whelan said the current infrastructure did not meet the needs of the growing community and measures needed to be taken to improve the quality and safety of local roads, reduce dust and upgrade poor drainage.

But he stressed that any decisions would be made in conjunction with property owners.

"The Surf Beach and Sunderland Bay estates are at the top of Council's priority list for road improvements and better drainage," Cr Whelan said. "The current infrastructure no longer meets the needs of our community, so we need to plan for the future.

"We have engaged with our community in a rigorous consultative process that has given us a preferred concept design for this project. This preferred option is the most cost effective, which also considers the local environment and improves the character of the area.

"Council's decision to embark on costings does not mean the option for the Special Charge Scheme is going ahead," Cr Whelan said.

"It means we are arming ourselves with more details for residents to make an informed decision on whether they will vote for the project to go ahead. We have listened and will continue to listen to our community."

Previous Special Charge Scheme projects have cost in a range of $1.5-$2 million per km of road length constructed. The Sunderland Bay and Surf Beach estates consist of approximately 15.2km of road network, placing the project at a broad range of $25.5-$32.4 million.

Under the proposal, the average cost to property owners could be in a range from $19,600 to $25,500, depending on the total cost of the project and how that cost is split between homeowners and Council.

"Council acknowledges that there has been some opposition to a Special Charge Scheme for the Surf Beach and Sunderland Bay estates. However, we believe the only way to fully understand how our whole community feels about specific planned works is to proceed with a cost estimate and full funding model, then call for feedback on that particular plan," Cr Whelan said.

If more than half of property owners lodge objections to the proposed Special Charge Scheme, then, in accordance with the Local Government Act, the project cannot proceed. If less than half object then Council will decide on whether to proceed with the scheme.

The Special Charge Scheme model has successfully been used to upgrade the roads and drainage in other areas of Bass Coast Shire including Pioneer Bay, Cape Woolamai West, Pine Avenue and Churchill Drive in Cowes, as well as South Dudley.

A full cost estimate and funding model will now be undertaken and will be presented at a future Council meeting for consideration.

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