Balcombe Estuary Reserves - Ecological Study and Planning Provisions

The Balcombe Estuary Reserves cover 76 hectares of bushland between the Nepean Highway and the Mount Martha coastline. Balcombe Creek begins at the back of Mt Eliza, it flows through Baxter and the Moorooduc plain, before it is joined by Devilbend Creek and turns westwards towards Port Phillip Bay. In its lower reaches, it flows through the Briars, then the Balcombe Estuary Reserves, entering the bay at Mount Martha.

 The area of study is highlighted green as per the below map:

balcombe estuary.png

The land covered by the Balcombe Estuary Reserves is used for both conservation and informal recreation (active and passive) purposes. Formal recreational facilities include sporting fields, tennis courts, pistol and bowling clubs. These facilities exist within and/or are directly adjacent to significant bushland areas.

A network of walking trails, including a boardwalk along the Balcombe Creek, allow people to explore the variety of bushland reserves. The walking trails provide a link under the Nepean Highway to the Briars.

The zoning of the area generally is a mix of:

  • Public Park and Recreation Zone (PPRZ) which has a purpose to; recognise areas for public recreation and open space, protect and conserve areas of significance where appropriate and provide for commercial uses where appropriate; and
  • Public Conservation and Resource Zone (PCRZ) which has a purpose to; protect and conserve the natural environment and natural processes for their historic, scientific, landscape, habitat or cultural values and to provide facilities which assist in public education and interpretation of the natural environment with minimal degradation of the natural environment or natural processes.

however the boundaries of the zones do not reflect the pattern of land uses for example there are large areas of bushland that are zoned PPRZ.

The Mornington Peninsula Shire is undertaking a study to: 

  • Identify and assess the ecological values of the Balcombe Estuary Reserves;

  • Identify options for balancing the needs of formal recreation uses with ecological values;

  • Confirm the extent of land that is suitable for planning protection, based on ecological values; and

  • Develop appropriate planning provisions to protect identified ecological values and to support appropriate recreational land use.

Through this process, it is expected that the study will result in a Planning Scheme Amendment to:

  • Rezone land to support and balance formal recreation uses and ecological values of the land; and

  • Apply planning overlays to protect areas with identified ecological values.

Once the data collection and analysis has been completed, the draft study will be presented to Council for their endorsement to undertake community consultation, which is expected to occur in early 2021.