Plans are slowly moving forward to clear about half a hectare of snowgum woodland at Dinner Plain for a ‘Village Green’.
The Alpine Shire budget for 2016/17 includes funding for the planning and design of a multipurpose ‘Village Green’ to the north west of the current village.
The Dinner Plain Master Plan, finalised in 2015, included a proposal for a cleared area which would aim to provide space for a number of uses. The current proposal is slightly smaller, but would still involve substantial destruction of snow gum woodland. Plans include a space for high altitude training for athletes, football, polo, and potentially a refuge spot in the case of bushfire (although it can be argued that there is already a large cleared area, being the ski run, which could serve for this purpose).
It is not yet clear how the proposal would be funded or how or where the destruction of the woodland would be offset (state laws require the protection of another area of similar vegetation). The local Chamber of Commerce would like to see a larger sports oval (up to a hectare in size).
Dinner Plain already has a venue that serves as a reception centre, two hotels, and the Onsen complex and seasonal infrastructure like the supermarket and ski shops. It has a small year round population and is heavily reliant on winter for much of the income that supports local business activity. Increasingly the ‘green season’ activities bring in cash that helps keep the community afloat. The plan for a village green is part of a vision that hopes to expand year round visitation to the area. However, as a village with a physical limit to the final number of houses that can be built (it is surrounded by public land on three sides), and a remote location in the mountains, which means that the majority of houses are owned for holidays or seasonal rentals, DP will never be a large town. It is hard to imagine that a village green and associated facilities will be the development that would push DP over the line to ensure year round visitation levels similar to the peak periods like new years and Easter. Yet it would be destructive, have considerable visual impact, further fragment the native vegetation in the DP village, and probably be very capital intensive. The latest area that has been developed for housing (‘the western suburbs’) was largely open land, and would have been an appropriate spot for a green or football oval, but clearly greed trumped planning for community infrastructure on that front.
At what point do we say ‘enough is enough’, and focus on smarter use of the existing footprint of the village if we want to expand business activity? Infill, as happened at Castran Corner, or new business activity within existing infrastructure (for instance the Blizzard microbrewery) are smart ways to increase the number of beds and economic activity without clearing additional areas of native vegetation.
[The image is of the area being considered for the Green].