The Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority (GORCAPA) plans to expand the Apollo Bay Recreation Reserve (Australia), delivering upgrades to amenities and luxurious glamping facilities for the site’s holiday park.
However, residents believe the project is proceeding without proper consultation. They are puzzled with the works order, seeing the start of the project before the finalization of the site masterplan. They are worried about the project’s impact on future community use, according to a report.
Raised issues in the plans include traffic concerns, long-term park tenants and user groups impact, and loss of open space between the recreation reserve oval and Gambier Street to the north.
Locals agree that upgrades to the site’s facilities like amenity blocks and other camping infrastructure are long overdue. However, they insist on further consultation before the reserve’s camping footprint increases.
“Everyone agrees something needs to be done at the caravan park, and the facilities aren’t up to scratch,” Apollo Bay resident Jacinta Tobin said. “The big dispute comes from wanting to climb up the hill is essentially a suburban area.”
She said the primary purpose of the recreation reserve is to serve the people, which people have recognized to be “very important” in their lives.
Fourth-generation Apollo Bay local John Marriner said locals were shocked when plans were released before widespread engagement. He believed the project fell short of public consultation.
“There are generations of families that have worked on that rec reserve to make it what it is today. “The focus seems to be on attracting tourists and putting money into GORCAPA’s pocket. It should not be at the expense of the recreation facilities that we have,” he said.
The Apollo Bay Recreation Reserve homes various sports clubs such as football-netball, cricket, and tennis. GORCAPA plans to include the installation of new handicapped-accessible and glamping accommodations to the northeast of the caravan park while upgrading current changing facilities, a picnic area, playground, and kitchen.
The authority did form a community reference group (CRG) early this year with community members, user group representatives, and disability advocates. However, they failed to present the make-up of the committee and meeting results to the public.
GORCAPA organized meetings with the CRG and permanent residents before releasing a draft plan concept on March 11th. Residents who resided within the expansion area and the larger neighborhood were invited to talk about the plan following its release.
The Authority said it would consider the feedback it received in recent weeks while they present a revised plan towards the end of the month before beginning the construction process in June.
“The first phase of this project will see a long-overdue upgrade to the campground ahead of the coming peak summer season.” GORCAPA CEO Jodie Sizer said. “We have engaged, and will continue to engage, with the community on this project, and we greatly appreciate the feedback we’ve had so far, which has helped shape how we will deliver the upgrade.”
GORCAPA said it would begin stage two of the project in “mid-2022”, which would create a 10-year vision for the reserve that accounts for the new infrastructure.
This article originally appeared on Surf Coast Times.