3228 Residents Association Inc.
Po Box 368
Submission to Surfcoast Shire - Application No: 14/0111
Site Address: 350 Coombes Road and 1200 Ghazeepore Road, Freshwater Creek
The 3228 Residents Association acknowledge that since the Zeally Bay Caravan Park was permitted to be changed into a resort style hotel, there may be a need for a new tourist caravan park in the vicinity of Torquay to cater for peak demand over the summer/Easter holidays, however, we make the following comments on the proposal at the above address.
Viability of the project
A major concern exists in the community about the overall size of the proposal (over 500 cabins and over 200 caravan sites) and that the ratio of cabins to caravan and tent sites at over 2 to 1 is extreme.
A drive past the Torquay Foreshore Caravan Park, which has the advantage of being in town, close to shops, restaurants and the beach(the reason people come here), clearly shows the lack of patronage in the months from Easter through to November. Nothing in the proposal and its amenities could be seen as encouraging people to visit in the off season. Torquay simply doesn’t have the weather to attract people to caravan parks all year round. This is shown in the proposal - Table 2.5– P 17 of the Market Assessment and Economic Impact Assessment produced by Essential Economics, the occupancy rate for 2013/2014 in the region is only 20%.
The report also states that there are currently 1280 sites in Torquay/Jan Juc which is 46% of the sites in the whole of Surf Coast Shire. If this is the case perhaps another location within the Surf Coast Shire that is further along the Great Ocean Road would be more beneficial for the region rather than increasing the numbers in Torquay.
The report quotes the Great Ocean Road Destination Management Plan that suggests that an additional 3440 commercial guest rooms will be required across the Great Ocean Road Region over all categories of accommodation (should the high growth scenario be reached by 2030) and this includes up to 5 new caravan and tourist parks. What is doesn’t say is how large these caravan parks should be. If the proposal proceeds as presented and assuming each bedroom in a cabin and each caravan as a guest room, it would make up over 28% of all required guest rooms. I don’t believe this is the intention of the Management Plan to have such a large scale operation in one location as it does not provide a variety of choice.
The plan also says that “Some of the projected requirement for additional capacity should be directed to existing accommodation establishments. Increasing the size of existing establishments would improve economies of scale and viability of businesses.” Current businesses who have already invested in the area should have the opportunity to extend their investment to provide extra accommodation.
A contradiction in the proposal figures is also found on P17 (Access Economics report) where the estimated person per cabin/ caravan is stated as 3, on Page 2 of the statement the average occupancy given by Access Economics per cabin/caravan is 2. At full occupancy that is a difference of 777 people. On what data have they assessed that each bedroom would have an average occupancy of 1 person? How does flow on to their other assumptions?
Promise of Jobs
The proposal makes predictions about the number of jobs that will ensue if the proposal proceeds. What it doesn’t state is whether these job numbers are based on 20%, 30% 50% or 100% occupancy rates and over what period of the year.
Promises of construction jobs are often made by developers but as we have experienced in the past eg RACV, large projects seldom benefit local contractors. With the construction of cabins more easily undertaken entirely off site by pre fabrication in a factory, jobs for local tradespeople may not eventuate. There is also a claim “$12 million a year in additional retail spending directly attributable to visitors staying at the tourist park. Most of this would be directed to businesses located in Torquay” What occupancy rate and time period is this based on?
Another major concern we have, which seems to be shared by attendees of the recent information sessions, is that the cabins or onsite vans may, either at the outset or over time, become permanent living accommodations. In a similar way to the Sands Hotel supposedly being found to be a financially non-viable proposition and needing to change its status, there is a real concern that this park, being a significant distance from the town centre and from beaches, may also find that it could be financially unsupportable as it is currently proposed. The owners may then be forced to seek a change to any planning conditions in the future and seek to change from temporary tourist accommodation to permanent accommodation.
We understand that there is no way of guaranteeing that cabins won’t be sold off or leased at some future date.
Even if the council were able place such conditions in the permit that would prevent this from happening, it is most likely that the proponent would take the council to VCAT to alter the conditions.
If the proposal is granted a permit, we believe that all parking requirements should be met within the boundaries of the site for visitors and temporary residents alike.
As Coombes Rd is a moderate speed through road that is growing in use, we believe that any side of road parking would be dangerous. Attempting to enter into the traffic flow travelling at speeds at 80 km/hr or higher would be a manoeuvre inherent with danger, particularly if reversing from angle parking.
The site has an abundance of land and can easily accommodate all the parking required on site. We therefore propose that if a permit is granted that both Coombes Rd and Ghazeepore Rd have no parking signage (as opposed to no standing) outside the boundaries of the site on both sides of both roads and for a distance of (say) 300 metres from the site.
We envisage that some of the people staying at the park would have boats and we suggest that some parking be set aside to allow for trailers within the site boundaries.
If the proposal is granted then there will be an increase in traffic volumes. Certainly on Coombes Rd and along Ghazeepore Rd and through the Ocean Acres Estate, by people seeking a route to Grossmans Rd. We feel that the traffic study may have underestimated the expected traffic volumes on these roads as it appears that consideration was not given to the reasons for traffic movements from an accommodation park which is different from those of permanent residents. The increased flows to the mentioned roads are inevitable for two reasons.
a. People seeking access to Jan Juc beaches or the Great Ocean Road and
b People seeking easier access onto or across the Surf Coast Hwy (at least until its intersection with Coombes Rd is controlled) to get to Torquay beaches or to the retail areas.
We believe that a traffic strategy needs to be developed to minimise the traffic through the Ocean Views estate and that the strategy and its implementation be funded by the developer.
We also feel an upgrading of Ghazeepore Rd should be undertaken to accommodate the increase usage and also to create a bike path to link to the end of Rosedale Drive to allow safe access to the existing bike infrastructure and minor roads via Stringybark Drive without need to travel on Coombes Rd or Grossmans Rd. The cost for any works should be provided by the developer.
As Coombes Road, with the nearing completion of the roundabout with Anglesea Rd, is likely to become a major route into Torquay, we feel that the visual intrusion of the park could be mitigated by an inclusion of a fully vegetated buffer of 6.0 metres on all boundaries.
Green Energy Commitment
We commend the proposers on their commitment to use 100% 'green energy.
The community has previously seen developers give commitments that were later withdrawn or ignored after a permit is granted. An example is the RACV indicating the use of recycled water from Barwon Water yet changed to draw water from Jan Juc creek without proper compensation to the community.
The developers in this case could simply use 100% green power fro a period and then change to standard power at any time.
We feel that council should create a mechanism that this commitment or green energy use be upheld and if this is not feasible, then this aspect should be ignored as part of the considerations.
Although the 3228RA believe that the number of proposed cabins is excessive and the ratio of cabins to caravan sites should be significantly reduced, we offer the following comments on the construction of the cabins.
(Unregistered Movable Dwelling - UMD)
Caravan Parks and the Building Act 1993
Section 517 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 excludes movable dwellings in caravan parks from the Building Act 1993 (except for Part 12A - plumbing works). This means that building permits are not required for the construction and installation of any UMD or rigid annexe in a caravan park. Local council is the authority responsible for enforcement of non-compliance. The enforcement provisions are contained within the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 and the regulations. It is an offence for someone to construct or install a UMD or rigid annexe in a caravan park unless it complies with the regulations.
Building Code of Australia
The Building Code of Australia (the BCA) is a national code containing technical specifications and standards for construction. The regulations refer to the BCA Volume 2 for the technical standards for the construction of UMDs. A UMD is considered to be a Class 1 building for the purposes of compliance with any of the required provisions of the BCA.
As can be seen above, if the cabins are considered as UMD's they are not required to comply with all aspects of the BCA.
We believe that all the recommendations relating to sustainability design within the ESD assessment be adopted.
We believe that the developers should be held to their commitment of cabins of high energy efficiency and that the BCA requirements for housing be set as a minimum standard for these cabins and to eliminate any ambiguity, we believe that all the provisions of Volume Two of the BCA Part 3.12 Energy Efficiency become a condition of the planning permit.
Given that the park is proposed to be located on a road that will soon become a major entry into Torquay, we believe that the size of signage be kept to a minimum and contained fully within the boundaries of the site.
We recommend that council require that only emergency lighting be permitted in the grounds after a stated time of night (times to be set by council as appropriate) and that all external lighting be fitted in such a way to minimise the dispersion of light beyond the boundaries of the site. This second condition would have the intent of trying to prevent the park becoming a 'light beacon" in the sky as one travels towards or away from Torquay, Jan Juc or Bellbrae.
According to the - P.5 “ Barwon Water also advises that the sewerage system for either option can only accept a maximum discharge of 5L/s. Such a low discharge rate will result in the need for storage, either within the pump well, or in a separate storage tank” and P.6 “The existing T10 SPS does not have capacity to cater for the peak flow expected from the proposed development, therefore onsite storage tanks built alongside the sewer pump station would be required”.
We have concerns that the size of this proposal will require the storage sewerage on site and the consequences of any failure of the storage tanks.
P. 7 of the Infrastructure Servicing Report - “SPI Networks (Gas) Pty Ltd has advised that gas supply is available to this area but will be subject to an evaluation once a formal application for connection has been received.”
There is currently a major problem with gas supply to Torquay/Jan Juc. In recent times, many residents have been left with no hot water, no heating or no gas at all. There has been no indication by SP Ausnet as to when this situation will be rectified. We believe that until this situation is rectified and full supply can be guaranteed to existing residents that the Surf Coast shire needs to very mindful of the ability of new developments to provide this service.
Promise of a pool
More recently the proponent has suggested in the press that they would be prepared to host a public aquatic centre. The community has heard the same promise before from a developer. We believe that “promises” of this nature ( of supposed community benefit) should not be a determining factor in the appropriateness of the development.
Our position is:
No permanent accommodation now or in the future.
No added cost burden to residents either for upgraded or added infrastructure or for ongoing maintenance such as road maintenance.
No traffic congestion to Coombes Road (prevent roadside parking).
No creation of a 'light beacon' in the rural setting.
Allow for continuous bike access to Torquay by way of bike paths or use of minor roads rather than major roads unless they are provided with appropriately wide bike lanes (at no cost to the existing community).
Enforce, now and into future, the recommendations of the ESD assessment provided by the developer.
In conclusion, the 3228RA has a major concern with the park becoming a de facto 'housing estate' or retirement village and we would like to see strong conditions and penalties established to prevent this scenario developing. The number of cabins/caravan sites proposed and the contradictory figures provided, lead us to question the viability of the proposal as a Tourist Park with a $105 million price tag. We would not like to see the council in a position, in a number of years’ time, needing to consider a new proposal for the site with established cabins, requesting it to be turned into permanent accommodation due to "unforeseen" financial situations. It is not the council's responsibility to ensure the viability of a proposal if the developers financial position changes or if the financial forecasts are shown to be incorrect. We believe it is the council's responsibility to ensure that planning conditions are maintained and not changed due to an entrepreneur's failure to forecast correctly.
Thank you for your consideration.
Committee of the 3228 Residents Association