Would-Be Bells Beach Developer Won’t Take No For An Answer
Landowner goes over the head of community and local authorities.
A local landowner in the Bells Beach hinterland is doing their best to have the area’s first ever tourist development approved, despite the plans being rejected by the local Surf Shire council, not to mention widespread opposition from the local community. Specifically, the plans are to “construct a new dwelling attached to the existing dwelling and the use of these two dwellings for group accommodation and the use and development of a new dwelling and native vegetation removal.” The landowner has since taken their proposal to the Victorian Civil And Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), who will hold a hearing on the 24th of October.
Local surfboard shaper and 30-year veteran of surfing along this stretch of coast, Michael ‘Vanda’ Van Der Klooster, says “the local community as a whole would be completely against it.” Though, as “a bit of a capitalist,” he says he can see it from both sides.
“I can see it’s going to be good for the local economy… if it’s pretty small it’d be pretty cool for people to come and stay out the back of Bells,” he says, adding:
“I think they’re honestly fighting a losing battle. It’s gonna happen now or it’s gonna happen in 20 years. It’s privately owned farmland behind Bells… It’s just development. It could absolutely pave the way but it could also destroy the whole bit of Bells; how you look back and you’re looking into the rolling hills and trees.”
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