Sunday, May 26, 2024

Bass Coast special charge scheme under development 

Victoria’s Bass Coast Council has announced that the development of concept design options for the proposed Sunderland Bay and Surf Beach special charge scheme is underway.

Council said the concept designs were an important part of the decision-making process for residents, as they will showcase a range of options aimed at improving the quality and safety of local roads, reducing dust and upgrading poor drainage.

A community reference group will help develop and provide feedback on the concept design options prior to these being circulated to the property owners to indicate preferences, Council said in a statement.

As part of the planning process, Council says it will also undertake a series of environmental studies in the area to assess any potential impacts on plants and wildlife.

Bass Coast Shire Mayor, Michael Whelan said the Surf Beach and Sunderland Bay estates were identified on Council’s road and drainage improvement list as a high priority, as the current infrastructure does not meet the needs of the growing community.

“We are currently in the planning phase, and no decision will be made about whether this project will go ahead, without the support of the community,” Mayor Whelan said.

“What we’re doing now is exploring options and then presenting them to residents so they can see what these potential upgrades will look like.”

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 $22.8-$30.4 million, the Mayor confirmed.

While Council is responsible for maintaining local roads, rates do not cover the majority of costs in significant redevelopments like this one, he said. Given the level of investment required, special charge schemes are used so the residents who will benefit from the upgrades share in the cost.

This 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 and South Dudley.

Upgrades can include sealed roads, improved drainage systems, footpaths, landscaping, lighting and safety treatments like speed bumps.

“We welcome the debate and discussion around this project, because we want to get this right for our residents,” Mayor Whelan said.

“While we are seeking feedback and consulting now, property owners will also have the opportunity to formally provide submissions of the project if it is declared in the future.”

Western Port Ward Councillors, Cr Bruce Kent, Cr Rochelle Halstead and Cr Clare Le Serve, said they were available to residents to provide extra support and answer questions as the project progresses.

“We know residents have a lot of questions about this proposed project, and we are happy to meet with people to discuss their questions, and any concerns they may have, directly,” Cr Halstead said.

“We are still in the very early planning phase of this project, and will be in a position to provide more information about the benefits, costs and what is involved, once the concept plans are developed.”

“This road and infrastructure project will not go ahead if the majority of property owners are not in favour of it. The material we are preparing now will help residents make an informed decision about what improvements they want in their local area.”

Cr Le Serve said Council was at the start of a long planning and investigative process.

“Often the start of the process can be very challenging for residents, but we do know these types of projects have really good outcomes, as evidenced by Pioneer Bay and Coronet Bay,” said Cr Le Serve.

“I have a commitment to legacy issues such as better roads, drainage and footpaths as these as so important to families. We have already received a lot of positive feedback, with residents wanting to see a reduction in dust and safety improvements where they live.”

Once the current planning phase is complete, Council will advise residents of the proposed costs involved should the project go ahead.

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