The Balcombe Estuary is one of the Mornington Peninsula’s major waterways and a significant natural asset with 164 indigenous plant species recorded including, Swamp Scrub and Grassy Woodland which are bioregionally endangered species. The Dwarf Galaxias fish, Royal Spoonbill and Pacific Gull are also threatened or near threatened species that have been identified in the area.

The Reserves also contain formal sport and recreation facilities such as tennis courts, cricket/football ovals, pistol club and bowls club as well as informal recreation facilities including picnic tables, playgrounds, walking trails and fishing platforms. Mount Martha Preschool and Maternal and Child Health Centre are also located within the Reserves.

In 2018, when consulting on our Planning Scheme Review, you let us know that the Balcombe Estuary was an important ecological asset that needed further protection.

With increasing population, the environment and the recreational facilities of the Reserves will come under increasing pressure.

We’ve now put together a draft Balcombe Estuary Reserve Ecological and Planning Study to find a balance between preserving the ecological values of the Balcombe Estuary Reserves, while supporting appropriate sport and recreation uses of the area.

To ensure future development is compatible with the significant biodiversity values of Reserves we are recommending:

A new planning control be applied to the Reserves to limit the impact of future development and vegetation removal on the environmental significance of the area.

Small pockets of land be rezoned where the current zoning does not match the current or future land use.

The new planning control to protect the environment is called an Environmental Significance Overlay which may restrict certain community facilities and sport and recreational development.

This means Council would either need to buy land elsewhere within or nearby to Mount Martha if these facilities needed to expand or decide that in some areas of the Reserves recreational needs take precedence over environmental protection.

What’s an Environmental Significance Overlay (ESO)?

This type of planning control is used to ensure the development of land does not affect identified environmental values and qualities of particular areas within the Shire. In making a decision on an application for development covered by an ESO, Council will take into account the impact of any proposed buildings and works (and any associated vegetation loss) on the natural environment, areas identified as of significance for flora and fauna, and the landscape values of the area.

Will this affect my land?

No, only land owned by the Council or State government is proposed to be affected by the environmental significance overlay.

How will my feedback be used?

The draft Study has been developed by ecological experts (Biosis Consultants) and numerous council departments. Using input from these sources, the study contains a series of recommendations for how we can best protect the natural environment of the Balcombe Estuary Reserves while highlighting conflicting interests and particular threats. We are now looking to the community for their input and guidance.

Your feedback on the draft Study will help Council determine whether the draft study contains the right recommendations, or if there’s anything we need to change.

Why is this important now?

The Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme Review No. 4 (2018) (Recommendation 186), recommended that further strategic work be undertaken to determine whether an Environmental Significance Overlay (ESO) should be applied to the Balcombe Estuary Reserves. With the population of Mount Martha growing, there will be increased pressures on community infrastructure. It is therefore important to review the planning controls for the Balcombe Estuary Reserves to find a balance between preserving the ecological values of the Balcombe Estuary Reserves, while supporting appropriate sport and recreation uses of the area.

Will there be changes to the facilities, sporting fields and native bushland?

This project will only affect planning controls within the study area. There is no proposal for physical changes or new developments, however the planning controls may affect future proposals so please let us know what activities and assets you value within the area so that we can ensure the planning controls guide and protect your priorities and values.

How can I stay up to date with the project?

To receive updates about the Plans, click on the 'Follow' button at the top of this page.

Share your feedback

We want your views on the proposed planning controls and to help us better understand the priorities and needs of the Balcombe Estuary Reserves and its users.

Please complete the short online survey, drop a pin on our interactive map or collect a hard copy survey from any of our Customer Service offices by 5pm 28 June 2021.

Drop a pin and share your thoughts