A PANEL will be appointed to look at concerns about a major housing development on Warrnambool’s Hopkins Point Road.
Warrnambool City councillors voted unanimously to ask state Planning Minister Matthew Guy to bring in an independent panel to examine the submissions regarding the 108-hectare development.
But most of the councillors also took the opportunity at this week’s meeting to express their enthusiasm for the project, which will create new residential areas to the north and south of Hopkins Point Road.
Director of city growth Bill Millard told the council 23 submissions had been received before the deadline, followed by a couple of late submissions, including one from the Department of Sustainability and Environment.
He said the submissions included queries about traffic impacts, reticulated gas, coastal views and housing density.
Mr Millard said a number of neighbouring property owners had also asked that their properties be include in the proposed rezoning of the land, potentially opening up further land along Hopkins Point Road to be turned into housing developments in the future.
He said additional rezoning beyond the planned 108 hectares would require “further strategic work … but at some stage council should address that matter”.
Cr Brian Kelson said that with “200-300 new houses out there” he was concerned with the impact the extra traffic would have on roads linking the new development to the city centre. But council officers assured Cr Kelson that roads such as Marfell Road, Otway Road and Flaxman Street would be able to cope.
Mr Millard said the traffic impacts along Hopkins Point Road — such as whether road-widening or turning lanes were needed — would be assessed during the planning process.
Cr Rob Askew said bringing in an independent panel to assess the submissions was a commonsense idea.
“I think everyone’s excited about the prospect of the land being opened up out there,” he added.
“Rezoning the surrounding land is a different issue (for) a different date, but it’s something we should look at as soon as possible.”
Cr Peter Hulin raised concerns about the council’s culpability in the face of erosion, rising seas, and climate change impacts in the area in the future, but went on to describe it as “a very exciting development for Warrnambool”.
“I would suggest it’s the most prestigious (new) land the city has had (for housing) in the last 50 years possibly,” he said.
He said the challenge that lay ahead for the council was to listen to the concerns raised in the submissions and reach a suitable outcome for all involved.
Cr Jacinta Ermacora said she hoped the development would provide an opportunity for reticulated gas to be brought to those living on that side of the Hopkins River.