A clear view: Hinterland Strategy starts to take shape

26 October 2017

People can have their say on the direction of the Surf Coast hinterland, with input to help shape a draft strategy that will guide future land use, development and economic activity in rural areas.

Surf Coast Shire Council resolved at its October meeting to exhibit a Hinterland Futures Issues and Opportunities Report which will be available for comment between 30 October and 1 December. Community engagement activities will also be conducted during the month-long period, with feedback to contribute to the draft Hinterland Futures Strategy.

As a project in the joint Council-community Towards Environmental Leadership program, the purpose of the Hinterland Futures Strategy is to provide a clear vision and direction for the Surf Coast’s rural areas.

The rural hinterland covers about 1000sq km and includes agricultural districts and small farming towns, including Winchelsea as the main rural service centre. About 94% of the hinterland area is Farming Zone.

Winchelsea Ward Councillor Heather Wellington said the Hinterland Futures report features 18 issues and opportunities that people can comment on. It includes refining planning policies and managing land use conflicts.

“This strategy is a chance to provide clarity for land users through clear planning principles,” Cr Wellington said.

“It’s also working towards one of our Council Plan outcomes for rural land to be used productively and sustainably, while retaining its environmental values.”

Fellow Winchelsea Ward Councillor Carol McGregor said various businesses operated within the hinterland area including agribusiness, farming activities, local food and tourism ventures.

Some of the other issues and opportunities in the report are improving road infrastructure and information technology networks, exploring potential of recycled water, jobs growth, intensive animal industries, accommodation and food tourism.

“There could be opportunities for genuine agri-tourism experiences to educate people about sustainable farming practices, and for people to participate in the farm life experience and purchase fresh produce,” Cr McGregor said.

“With the Great Ocean Road and Great Otway National Park on our doorstep, there are opportunities to entice visitors to make the hinterland a destination to complement their journey to these world-class attractions.”

The Hinterland Futures Issues and Opportunities Report will be available at www.surfcoastconversations.com.au from 30 October 2017. Community engagement activities will also be posted on the website. Using input from the feedback period, the draft Hinterland Futures Strategy will be developed early next year.