AFTER more than a decade of struggle to keep the Spring Creek Valley development free, a key figure behind the campaign’s success believes the journey has only just begun.
Standing at the Bellbrae farmland fence at the southern end of the valley, Graeme Stockton of the Surf Coast Energy Group (SCEG) outlines a vision for the future that includes revegetating the remaining areas of rare Bellarine Yellow Gum, du messmate and even the return of emus and koalas that once lived there.
‘People might think of it this way, all we want is a green break,’ he said of the Andrews government’s decision to draw the city limits of Torquay at Duffields Road , thus preserving an undeveloped buffer zone up to Bellbrae.
“But I think we should see Spring Creek as an opportunity to bring ecological, social and economic benefits to all of Torquay.
“Keeping in mind that the Spring Creek Valley runs parallel to the Great Ocean Road and people come to Torquay because of its scenery, natural features and surf, and here we have this perfect hidden valley in our bosom that sustains a dying community not found anywhere else.
“The first thing for the community to understand is that the ball is now firmly in our court.”
As Mr Stockton points out, the guest list for the recent campaign victory party at Ashmore Arts seems to illustrate that the region’s policy makers are united.
“We already have support from all levels of government, we saw that at the event with Liz Pattison (Surf Coast Shire councilor) talking about zoning…we expect the land to be rezoned for rural conservation . We also had Libby Coker (Corangamite Federal Member) and Darren Cheeseman (MP for South Barwon).
“We are at an exciting time and we have all the aces, we have to play them.
“The first thing to understand is that developers, particularly landowners, realize they have an asset locked in. Because the boundary has indeed been drawn at Duffields Road.
“Part of it is about getting landowners on board and realizing that there’s an economic opportunity here for them, but also for our community to understand how much of an investment our current efforts can be for them. future generations.
“As far as the future of Spring Creek is concerned, we could be very ambitious if we wanted to…part of that equation could be the community buying land; we already have 100 acres.
“If we want to be ambitious and want Spring Creek to reach its full potential…we should see this as the starting point more than the end point.”