According to a recent presentation by Barrister and Practising Planner, Clem Newton-Brown, at the Planning Institute of Australia Annual Conference, last year’s decision by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to refuse development of low lying land in Toora over one kilometre from the sea, due to the potential for inundation by rising sea levels in the future, has implications for the development of all low lying coastal land in Victoria.
Indeed, the Victorian State Government has now set a level of 80cm as the predicted sea level rise over the next 100 years and planners have been directed to apply this prediction to future planning applications.
As a result there will be many property owners across the State who will have undevelopable low lying land under the current regime in coastal areas (and not necessarily just absolute beachfront either).
Mr Newton-Brown suggests that because nobody actually knows how fast sea levels will rise, but that “the science and accuracy of predicting future rises will improve over time”, that development be allowed with a “sunset clause” which requires a new application to be made in 10 or 20 years to retain the house on the block.
He argues that many lightweight beach houses have a practical life of only a few decades while prefabricated houses could be relocated.
Mr Newton-Brown acknowledges potential problems with finance and insurance but suggests, such an arrangement “is a better result than being told today that your land cannot be developed at all when you may be able to get years of use out of a dwelling before potentially having to demolish or relocate it sometime in the future.”
This blog post is based on the powerpoint presentation given by Clem Newton-Brown at the Planning Institute f Australia Annual Conference, Darwin, 2009.
Photograph of Currumbin Surf Life Saving Club, Gold Coast, Australia, December 2007, taken by Jennifer Marohasy. While the car park was closed that day, the bar and restaurant did a good trade with holiday-makers keen to enjoy a drink and a meal close to nature. Click on the image for a clearer/larger view.