A GOLF driving range in Balnarring was awarded the contract, although it had previously been rejected by the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and rejected with 51 objections and a petition with 300 signatures.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Court ruled that the area at Sandy Point Road, Balnarring, was an appropriate use for the 20 acre former grazing land.
The land lies in the green wedge with Balnarring in the west, Balnarring Beach and Merricks Beach in the southwest and Somers in the southeast.
It is surrounded by land with single-family homes and a variety of agricultural uses, including cattle, sheep, and horse breeding, and donkey keeping for mental health therapy.
The applicant Michael Kazacos appealed to the VCAT after the council closed the 16-bay route due to the increased traffic, noise, activity, environmental and visual impact associated with the proposal, which was detrimental to the rural nature of the Area, had refused.
The Council was concerned about the incompatibility of the proposal with adjacent agricultural land use and the loss of productive agricultural land due to land use change. She thought the driving range was a bad planning result in the green wedge zone.
Appellants were concerned about the effects of noise and increased activity with customers and cars, on-site parking, and increased traffic safety on Sandy Point Road. They were also concerned about damaging effects on Tulum Creek, which runs through the property.
Appellant Pam Bannister said the proposal was too much of an urban type of recreational facility that was atypical with the rural setting around the site. She viewed the proposal as “glasses” with the local landscape.
However, Mr Kazacos said his proposal was in line with the political guidelines of the peninsula’s planning plan to protect and respect the rural character of the area.
VCAT members Christopher Harty and Phil West ruled that recreational activities, including a golf driving range, are permitted in a green wedge zone “which is characterized by a desire, the rural character of the area, natural features and respect the habitat of biodiversity and have undue impact on agricultural uses ”.
“The proposal does not dominate the area and therefore does not change the character of this rural area,” they said.
The council’s fears that the range would lead to a loss of 20 hectares of agricultural land were brushed aside, as this would “not lead to a permanent loss of agricultural land”.
Members also said that the proposal “will not result in loss of koala habitat … and that the effects of increased human activity on birds and other animal species will not be significant”.
“We accept that the proposal is set back well … 240 meters from Sandy Point Road, behind the existing dwelling and the large lake, and well shielded by the existing intervening vegetation.”
Members said that a combination of the distance from Tulum Creek and other areas of native vegetation on the northern edge of the property and the location of the golf driving range bays and parking lot closer to the existing home … “gives us the convenience that the proposal “does not constitute an unacceptable environmental impact”.
The members “remove” the previous refusal of the council and granted permission.
Premiere on Western Port News – July 14, 2021