By Craig Little
IN THE beginning, ten years ago, we were attracted to the Waterline area for its rural, coastal character. As we explored we loved it more, for its natural beauty and towns and villages, of which Coronet Bay was just one.
More recently we have enjoyed the experience of progress and development, the growth of innovative local hospitality businesses, and new services based on care and quality. Residential and retail developments are expanding, and towns such as Wonthaggi and San Remo are forging ahead.
This is a totally different sort of development. It’s not inclusive, not multicultural, not attached to the local community, and totally at odds with the open mix of our many nationalities and the nature of the Australian character at large.
“The proposal provides for a unique mixed-use tourism facility that seeks to deliver significant benefits to the area and provide an enduring legacy for the Shire of Bass Coast.”
Intended as a cultural anomaly, focused on running a closed facility, it has no empathy or interest in our locality, other than to re-invent it and cater to brief mass indulgence in penguins and other tourist attractions for a couple of days.
If Bass Coast councillors are to be seen as responsible custodians and overseers of community growth, assets and values, they should consider whether developments such as this are an asset or at odds with the area.
If it is within the scheme of things, quite simply, does it “fit”?
It is not a development that will make or break the area as a social or financial asset. And the area doesn’t need a development that flies in the face of so many social and environmental concerns.
Coronet Bay doesn’t need a foreign enclave as a neighbour. Corinella doesn’t either. The two towns are linked by a track that runs through a protected coastal banksia forest for about two kilometres. The Residents and Ratepayers Association takes a hands-on interest in the track, and has been responsible for improvements to the track and placement of seating and other facilities.
New housing estates under construction in both towns will make the coastal walk an even more precious asset for the two communities.
Locals were also actively engaged in retaining the original Homestead on Cutty Sark Road (now the Fig and The Bay restaurant) when developers attempted to have it folded into the Corinella housing development "Heritage Bay”.
I wonder if thought has been given to the impact of the proposed hotel on the Bass Valley Primary School, As a grandparent I would not welcome a busy tourist bus network using that route through the 40km/h school zone at all hours. The site is also host to a men’s shed and pre-school centre.
What if the intended developers had sought a more accessible site, one more sympathetic to the area and its residents?
Presumably, as it is an entirely built project, including pools and landscaping, it could be anywhere within easy reach of Phillip Island. One example: the old Giant Earthworm Museum sits defunct on the highway, offering relatively low community impact and very straightforward tourist bus access.
We are not anti development. We are not anti employment. But surely the criterion should be a development that this and the future community are happy to support and live with in the long term.