Future direction for the Queenscliff Ferry Terminal

Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Borough of Queenscliffe Council has shown its support for the Queenscliff Ferry Terminal by supporting an extension to its car parking facilities. The Council, at its Ordinary Meeting on 30 January, voted in support of all but one of the Queenscliffe Planning Scheme Amendment C23 Panel Report recommendations.

The Planning Scheme Amendment application was made by AECOM Australia Pty Ltd on behalf of Peninsula Searoad Transport (trading as Searoad Ferries). The aim of the Amendment C23 is to improve pedestrian safety, access for public bus services, taxi and private vehicle 'drop off' and 'pick up' and car parking, as well as enhancing the terminal building facilities and amenities and improving the landscaping and entrance to Queenscliff. The changes will also address compliance requirements of the Searoad Ferry's Risk Management Plan.

Amendment C23 has been the subject of extensive discussion and deliberation. Public exhibition of the Amendment in early 2012 saw 36 submissions, 20 of which supported the proposal and 16 submissions which either objected to the proposal or raised some issue of concern.

Given the range of issues raised through the public consultation, the matter was referred to an independent Panel and a hearing was held in Queenscliff over three days from 31st October to 2nd November 2012. The Panel's report was received by Council on 9 January 2013.

The Panel supported Amendment C23 with the exception of the proposed south-west extension of the lease area by some 1,600 square metres which included the car park extension. Council noted that the Panel's recommendation on the issue was not based on environmental grounds. In fact the panel report stated "The
Panel accepts that the vegetation in question ( proposed to be removed) represents either small remnant patches of Coastal Dune Grassland in which introduced species predominate or is Minor Treeless Vegetation. As a result, the Panel does not consider the removal of the vegetation in question to be an impediment to Approval of Amendment C23."

Council's decision to support the Amendment as exhibited, including the car park extension and to increase the lease area, was based on the extensive evidence demonstrating the need and the opportunity to not only redress but improve upon the current unsatisfactory pedestrian, bicycle, taxi, bus and private vehicle access to the Ferry terminal. Council's ultimate decision centred on the net benefit to the community after consideration of all environmental, social and economic factors.

Council's Chief Executive Officer, Lenny Jenner, noted the concern of some residents as to the loss of a small piece of public land for use by the Ferry operator. Although not part of the Council's decision, he highlighted that over the last two years Council had been successful in gaining additional areas of Crown land including the Queenscliff Lighthouse Reserve (Shortlands Bluff) and the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse Reserve (Toc H), Fisherman's Cooperative building, new and expanded mooring grounds at the Queenscliff Harbour and the low-cost lease arrangements around the Queenscliff Boat Ramp.

Council is now required to submit the adopted Amendment to the Minister for Planning for approval. The Minister's decision is expected within about two months.