POST readers familiar with Harmers Haven may remember that right in its centre there sits an extensive low-lying wet area completely covered in dense native vegetation. This is Lot 25, 60-76 Viminaria Road, known locally as the Swamp because it is central to the drainage system of the whole area and every winter much of it is covered with standing water.
In its current condition Lot 25 makes an irreplaceable contribution to the quiet, semi-rural character of Harmers Haven. It stretches for 280 metres along the southern or seaward side of Viminaria Road which is about one quarter of the total length of the road. Its swampy character is probably the reason why it was not subdivided in the 1950s along with the rest of the land on that side of the road.
This is no ordinary coastal ‘swamp’. The remnant vegetation on this site, both on private and public land, includes rare and endangered damp heathland and coast scrub of high conservation significance not only for Bass Coast but for the whole of Victoria. We are very lucky to have this extensive wilderness in the heart of Harmers Haven.
Currently there is a subdivision application for Lot 25 Viminaria Road before the council which could result in almost one third of this remnant coastal bushland and wildlife habitat being cleared for residential use.
The subdivision application seeks to create a new block of 1053m² and have an additional 2244m² approved for residential development, Taken together, these two areas aggregate to almost one third of the total area, with a road frontage of 70 metres.
In general the community at Harmers is strongly opposed to this subdivision. More than 20 individual objections have been lodged on the council website. At its recent AGM the Harmers Haven Residents and Ratepayers Group resolved by a more than two-thirds majority to lodge its own objection with the council.
Over the years there have been several previous attempts to subdivide this land, which previous councils and higher decision-making bodies have consistently rejected on environmental grounds.
We hope that the present council will be guided by these precedents and reject this latest application, and that the owners will then stick with the one title that they bought, reduce the area proposed for their own residential purposes to more reasonable proportions, and also carry out their often-declared purpose of securing the rest of the swamp to be left as green space in perpetuity.
John Old is president of the Harmers Haven Residents and Ratepayers Group.