East Gippsland Shire Council has set itself an ambitious target of having the first component of the Jemmys Point Lookout development complete before Christmas, in time for the traditional busy Lakes Entrance summer holiday season.
The project will capitalise on the lookout area that provides spectacular 270-degree panoramic views of the Gippsland Lakes, the entrance, Bass Strait and 90 Mile Beach.
Mayor, Cr Natalie O’Connell, said the new viewing and interpretive facilities will transform the precinct into a significant tourist destination.
To have a new lookout accessible by Christmas, Cr O’Connell said council had decided to both upgrade the existing lookout near Hotel Road site and construct a new lookout at the Lookout Road site. The two sites are about 400 metres apart and linked via roads and a walking track.
The project was initially just to focus on the existing Hotel Road lookout site, however the community clearly indicated that they saw merit in investing in the Lookout Road site (to the north of the Princes Highway), where there is more space and opportunity.
“We have listened to the community feedback and will take the opportunity to ensure that the Jemmys Point lookout is situated in the best location to generate wow factor,” Cr O’Connell said.
“Investigation of the existing lookout site, including geotechnical investigation coupled with the topography and spatial constraints, indicate most of the investment in this site would be in engineering works if we attempted to put a large cantilevered structure on this site. This would not be a great investment or outcome for Lakes Entrance.
“Therefore, the project will now have two components, with the first stage being the modernisation of the existing lookout, and the second stage being the development of a more spectacular lookout in the northern area of Jemmys Point.”
Due to the tight timeframe, council has secured landscape architecture firm Land Design Partnership to develop design concepts for the viewing platform and associated surrounding landscaping, pavements and drainage at this site.
“The firm has experience with delivering high-profile metropolitan projects and has also worked for us on designs for the Paynesville and Cann River streetscapes. We are confident the architects will develop concept designs that are true to the iconic landscape,” Cr O’Connell said.
A project control group has been established and consists of representatives from Lakes Entrance Action and Development Association, Regional Roads Victoria, the Office of Member for Gippsland Darren Chester, Gippsland Ports, Marine Safety Victoria, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and council.
“Key work to date with this group has been around permitting and approval requirements and support, and discussions around existing access/egress/intersection and what may need to be done to address increased traffic to the Lookout Road site. This group will form a critical part of the project,” Cr O’Connell said.
The timeline for stage one will now include three concept designs being presented to council, the project control group and stakeholders by early September. The plans will also be available to the public view for a one-week feedback period. Council will confirm the selected concept before the end of September and make the design public.
The concept plans, all variations on a theme, will be available on council’s Your Say website from Friday evening, September 6, where a poll will also be available for anyone to view and vote (until September 13) on their favoured design. The concept designs will also be published in the Lakes Post on September 11.
“Council has indicated its preference to minimise site construction works by adopting an offsite assembly and modularisation approach where practicable. Works may not be visible until November, however the stage one lookout platform construction is anticipated to be complete in December,” Cr O’Connell said.
Stage two construction next year: Stage two is the Lookout Road site and will be constructed by late 2020 adjacent to the existing grassed park area (Rotary Park), which includes some existing infrastructure.
The stage two design tendering process is expected to commence late this year.
Other works across both sites will include signage and interpretive facilities to provide a more comprehensive and informative experience for visitors. Signage will be installed on Princes Highway directing people to the viewing platforms from eastern and western approaches.
The project has a budget of $1.5 million, with equal contributions from the Australian Government’s Building Better Regions Fund and Council.
Project details and updates will be available on council’s Your Say website from September 6.
PICTURED: The site of the proposed stage one Jemmys Point Lookout development, which East Gippsland Shire Council is intending to have completed by Christmas. (PS)