Archive:  Amendment C84

Last Updated  6/2/15


See also Woodend Structure Plan

See also  Villawood / Davies Hill   

See also Loddon Mallee South Regional Growth Plan

See also Macedon Ranges Settlement Strategy Archive

See also Concern Mounts At Macedon Ranges Council's Growing Habit Of Changing Its Planning Scheme To Fit Individual Development Proposals 



Pigs Still Flying and Council Still Lying About Amendment C84

(1/10/14 - P)  Adoption of Panel recommendations - Council's nose just keeps getting longer     

In its July 2014 Shire Life newsletter (page 5, "Settlement Strategy: Amendment C84 adopted"), Macedon Ranges Council claimed "All of the [C84] panel's recommendations and revised wording were adopted by Council.". 

Council grudgingly admitted that statement was not true in its September 2014 Shire Life newsletter (page 7, "Amendment C84 Update"), 

clarifying that "Council adopted the amendment document attached to the Panel's report, but it was not practical to adopt some of the additional recommendations for reasons included in the Council report of 28 May, 2014."   That statement isn't true either. 


Panel Direction in the amendment document attached to the Panel's report: "Provisions relating to Rural Living areas, which are currently addressed in Clause 22.15 should be inserted, pending revision after adoption of a Rural Living Strategy", and "Identify Rural Living Policy area on the Rural Framework Plan".  (page 9 of 84, Recommended MSS, Final Panel Report).


Council's response?  Council deleted these Panel directions from the C84 Panel amendment document adopted by Council on 28/5/14 without telling anyone, including Councillors apparently. (Page 9 of 86, PE1, Attachment 5, Council Agenda, 28/5/14 Council meeting). 


Panel Direction in the amendment document attached to the Panel's report: "Provisions relating to Rural Living areas/rural residential development, which are currently addressed in Clauses 22.17, 22.18. 22.15 should be reinstated, pending revision after adoption of a Rural Living Strategy."  (page 31 of 84, Recommended MSS, Final Panel Report).


Council's response?  In the document adopted by Council, this direction is crossed out and replaced with "Additional provisions relating to rural living will be included following adoption of Council's Rural Living Strategy."  (Page 31 of 86, PE1, Attachment 5, Council Agenda, 28/5/14 Council meeting).


MRRA Says:


Deleting and replacing these Panel directions - in the Panel's document - removes existing rural land planning controls from the Macedon Ranges planning scheme, without the hassle of going through the proper process to do so.  That's something 'Council' isn't telling the community or even, it appears, Councillors or the Minister for Planning.  


Brazen As You like, Council Lies Again To The Community - If Not The Minister For Planning

(13/7/14 - P)  Grab your July copy of Shire Life, and frame it as evidence that nothing is too low for Macedon Ranges Council  Red Alerts  Council Performances

The July 2014 edition of Council's Shire Life newsletter gives us Council's deceitful account of Amendment C84 (page 5). 


At paragraph 3, Council says "All of the [C84] Panel's recommendations and revised wordings were adopted by Council."    What a whopper of a bare-faced lie, and demonstrably so.  Council did not accept all C84 Panel recommendations. 


For example, those Panel "directions around rural land use" Shire Life refers to are:


Panel Direction: "Provisions relating to Rural Living areas, which are currently addressed in Clause 22.15 should be inserted, pending revision after adoption of a Rural Living Strategy", and "Identify Rural Living Policy area on the Rural Framework Plan".  (page 9 of 84, Recommended MSS, Final Panel Report).


Council's response?  Not only were these Panel directions not acted on, they were deleted without notice from the version of C84 presented to Council for adoption on 28/5/13 (Page 9 of 86, PE1, Attachment 5, Council Agenda, 28/5/14 Council meeting). 


Panel Direction: "Provisions relating to Rural Living areas/rural residential development, which are currently addressed in Clauses 22.17, 22.18. 22.15 should be reinstated, pending revision after adoption of a Rural Living Strategy."  (page 31 of 84, Recommended MSS, Final Panel Report).


Council's response?  Council ignored the Panel direction to reinstate existing policy, and responded "Additional provisions relating to rural living will be included following adoption of Council's Rural Living Strategy."  (Page 31 of 86, PE1, Attachment 5, Council Agenda, 28/5/14 Council meeting).


Council has also not implemented other Panel recommendations, including not reinstating policy and a reference document for Riddells Creek.  And that's before you get to the game-changing policy changes that butcher existing rural land policies.  Council told everyone C84's 'review' of the MSS was policy-neutral; that's another Council lie. 


As for C84 being "subject to a two-stage panel hearing process", yes it was but that's not the full story.  In Stage 1, Council's C84 document was so bad the Panel uncommonly issued an Interim Report (September 2012) to give Council a chance to get it right.  In Stage 2 Council's subsequent C84 (Version 8?) apparently failed to cut the mustard again, because in an almost unheard-of move, the Panel itself rewrote the entire MSS (April 2014) to ensure its earlier recommendations finally got into C84 and to correct some fairly basic planning and drafting errors.


MRRA Says:


This Shire Life article is another example of what the community knows as Council's lies - deceitful, twisted, and serious misrepresentation of fact.  Is it what Council is telling the Department - and the Minister for Planning?


The bottom line?  As the Macedon Ranges' community will tell you, YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO BELIEVE A SINGLE WORD THIS COUNCIL SAYS.  We've seen the lies, and blaming everyone else for what goes wrong, over and over again - bullying didn't happen, or if it did it was the media/community/female councillors' fault;  Hanging Rock runs at a loss, when Council's own figures show it doesn't; Council's abysmal 2014 Community Satisfaction Survey results are just a temporary blip, people were surveyed at the wrong time; Council hasn't made up its mind to put an early years hub at Daly Reserve, but Council isn't investigating other sites and the Daly Reserve Environmental Management Plan included a site for the early years hub;  100 people at a community rally calling for the CEO's resignation and investigation of Council means the rest were happy with Council; and on and on it goes. 


Will no-one rid us of this pestilence?


Amendment C84: Getting Riddell Right Calls For Community Help To Have Minister For Planning Intervene

(25/6/14 - P) Council refusal to act on C84 Panel recommendation deletes critical policy and undermines community VCAT case against supermarket proposal  Supermarket File 


Here's what Getting Riddell Right says:



We have just confirmed that Macedon Ranges Shire Council has deleted specific commercial town centre policy and a reference document from the planning scheme directly related to our appeal against the supermarket development.


After fighting for more than a year to have our case heard and successfully winning our Supreme Court Appeal we are now faced with having to fight unjust changes to the planning scheme.   


The change is hidden in amendment document C84 which is supposed to be policy neutral.


The Council report (May 28 2014) did not show the change.


The external Planning Panel who reviewed amendment C84 recommended Council put the policy back in, but Council ignored them.


The amendment is now with the Minister for Planning awaiting approval.


In the last 48 hours we have met with Council Officers, we have notified the Minister for Planning The Hon. Matthew Guy, Amanda Millar MLC & Joanne Duncan MP.


Please help us by emailing and/or calling all of the above and telling them to put the Riddells Creek Town Centre Structure Plan 1991 back into the planning scheme and demanding that the existing commercial town centre policy be retained.  


The Hon. Matthew Guy     (03) 9457 5328   fax: (03) 9455 2968o:p>

Joanne Duncan MP   (03) 5428 2138  fax: (03) 5428 2919

Amanda Millar  (03) 5427 2444   fax:(03) 5427 2155

Macedon Ranges Shire Council (03) 5422 0333 PO Box 151 Kyneton 3444"


Click Letter to see GRR's sample letter to the Minister


MRRA Says:


Well, what can we say - another oversight, or another 'favour for a mate'?    If you can help Getting Riddell Right by sending an email, please do.


As for Amendment C84, apparently the independent Panel was so frustrated with Council's previous seven (7) versions of C84 (and non-implementation and misinterpretation of the Panel's recommendations) it took the almost unheard-of step of rewriting the entire MSS itself. 


While the Panel's version is light years ahead of anything Council managed to produce, its biggest problem is that it started with the policy changing version/s Council produced; if it had started with the existing planning scheme, it could have been a winner. 


If Council had done everything the Panel said to do, it could have been better - but no, Council's got an agenda, and it's sticking to it.  Result?  In addition to the policy void at Riddells Creek, the Gisborne ODP has lost one of the documents it relies on, the Romsey ODP isn't a reference document in the MSS at all anymore (neither are several other existing reference documents added by other recent amendments), Council has refused to put back the existing rural living and rural residential policies it deleted (even though the Panel said to), and some of Council's zone 'updates' to correspond with new State zones aren't a match at all!


Errors, policy changes (in this supposedly 'policy neutral' document), and Council not acting on all Panel recommendations, mean that despite the Panel's gargantuan efforts, the C84 MSS is weaker than the existing planning scheme.  Approval of C84 in its current form would undermine any claim to protecting Macedon Ranges.  


MRRA has a list of problems, and like Getting Riddell Right, is working on getting a meeting with the Minister for Planning. 



Wooo...  Crs. Sally Piper And Jennifer Anderson Go For it With Notices Of Motion For Tonight's Council Meeting At Gisborne

(21/5/13-RA-C)  But why do they even need to ask? 

Well, great to see the two "girls" on Council standing up for community interests (but where are the "boys"?).  These are highly significant notices of motion, asking for actions most people would consider should already have been taken.  That they appear not to have been That it appears it hasn't raises all sorts questions about Council administration and how Council is being run (and for whose benefit).   Check out the Notices Of Motion here.


You can access the agenda for tonight's council meeting here:


Amendment C84:  The Diabolical, Dysfunctional And Direction-Changing Amendment Is Back

(23/4/13-RA-P)   Not an improvement, not acceptable, just more good money thrown after bad


The fifth version of Amendment C84 is back; it's on exhibition and submissions can be made until May 10, 2013.  Click here to see MRRA's C84 archive.


Amendment C84 puts the Macedon Ranges Settlement Strategy (or a version of it) into the planning scheme.  But more than that, it also rewrites the entire Municipal Strategic Statement [MSS] and Local Policies, as well as introducing (and deleting) some 40-odd reports and studies to/from the scheme.   Changes to the MSS were described by Council as being 'policy neutral'.  The independent panel agreed with MRRA that they weren't.


Last year, Amendment C84 limped out of a panel hearing with an interim panel report.  In essence, an interim report gave Council a last shot at getting C84 right.  Council claims it has addressed the independent panel's recommendations and is exhibiting the latest version of C84, which will be taken back to the independent panel for its assessment.


MRRA Says:

A quick look at this latest version of C84 suggests it still substantially changes MSS 'policy' without an acceptable (or even any) justification for doing so.  It changes policy, so it is not policy-neutral. In MRRA's view, there is an unmistakable theme of development and growth that is not found in the existing planning scheme, and is not reconcilable with the environmental sensitivity of the Shire.  Because Council has insisted that C84 is 'housekeeping', 'a technical change' and 'policy-neutral, you haven't been made aware substantial change is proposed.  There is also no guidance provided in the exhibited material - except the tracked changes themselves - that identifies changes and why they have been made.


In the C84 on exhibition, major changes are made to Settlement Strategy-related content.  For example:


The Woodend 'policy' is almost unrecognisable, and so favourable to Villawood Properties P/L in particular it might have been re-written by them.  The 30 year supply of existing zoned land identified in the Settlement Strategy has somehow shrunk to only 15 years' supply.  The 'no greenfields zoning is required' statement, which Woodend residents were assured would be there, is gone (at Council's request).  Coincidentally, a new statement is included that development along the Avenue of Honour (which location - coincidentally - sounds like Villawood's land) must respect the Avenue.  Woodend residents must make as many submissions as possible objecting to these changes.


Romsey residents beware as well.  C84 is opening your town up to more development than already provided for in the Romsey ODP.  Well might you ask if there is no end to more and more growth and development, and is there any such thing as an agreed position!  


Wait!  Council's apparent unhappiness with actually implementing its own Settlement Strategy continues, with further unexplained changes that also favour more growth than even that in the Strategy.  For example:


Existing and projected population figures in the Settlement Strategy for each town at Clause 21.04 - originally included in C84 - are deleted, and replaced by each town's settlement type, and the generic population figures used to define settlement types (e.g. a Small Town = 500 - 2,000 people; a Large Town = 2,000 to 6,000 people, etc).  On top of that, only the high-end settlement type population figures are included (e.g. 6,000>, not 2,000-6,000).  Consequences of this include:


  Settlement Strategy Amendment C84 On Exhibition
For Gisborne 2006 population 8,900,
2036 projected population 14,700,
change +5,800
Large District Town 2006, Regional Centre 2036
10,000+ people by 2036
For Woodend 2006 population 3,700,
2036 projected population 5,000,
change +1,300
District Town 2006, District Town 2036
 6,000> people by 2036


This change leaves Gisborne open to "write-your-own-ticket' growth, and Woodend leaps from 5,000 in the Settlement Strategy to (up to) 6,000.


While there were problems with 2006 and 2036 population figures which are inflated by being those for the Settlement Strategy's vast Study Areas, not the towns themselves, this new vagueness leaves growth in all towns and settlements (and even the Shire itself) without parameters, opening the door to higher levels of growth than in the adopted Settlement Strategy.


In addition, types of settlements (e.g. Village, Small Town) in the Settlement Strategy are changed in the new C84, with no explanation given.  Again, the end effect is potentially more growth than provided for in the Settlement Strategy.  For example:

  2036: Settlement Strategy 2036: Amendment C84 On Exhibition
Bullengarook Village (200 - 500 people)  No growth Small Town (500 - 2,000) shown in C84 as 2,000>, potentially another 1,200+ people
Newham Village (200 - 500 people)  +10 people Small Town (500 - 2,000) shown in C84 as 2,000>, potentially another 1,000+ people
Ashbourne Locality (less than 100 people)  No growth Village (200 - 500 people) shown in C84 as 500>

Similar changes occur elsewhere.  The look this produces is that even more growth is being put into the Shire, without process or justification, and without actually telling people it's happening.


Not quite putting THE Settlement Strategy into the scheme, is it... 


Another critical and cryptic change is the new inclusion of the Settlement Strategy's Study Area boundaries on town policy structure maps.  These maps were not exhibited in 2011, but were instead dropped out by Council, without community consultation or endorsement by Councillors, at the panel hearing last year. At that time, Council called them "settlement boundaries".  MRRA objected to these unconsulted maps and boundaries at the panel hearing.  The panel subsequently required Council to exhibit them, and the maps are now in the C84 on exhibition.  There is no obvious, logical or strategic reason for having Study Area boundaries on these maps. They not only result in ludicrous maps (look at the Lancefield map where, because the Study Area goes from the Cobaws to Mitchell Shire, the township itself is so small the map serves no practical purpose at all).  These Study Area boundaries will inevitably be interpreted as a development boundary and become a de facto, hugely expanded town boundary, achieved by stealth.  As well, the Loddon Mallee South Regional Growth Plan says put growth within existing settlement boundaries.  They must be removed.


As for changes to the MSS, these have been misrepresented from the very start.  Touted as saying what's in the scheme now in a different way, they don't.  C84 instead rewrites and changes the existing scheme's direction, priorities and policies, regardless of how many times Council says it doesn't.


Amendment C84 is an amendment which has never been transparent.  It has never had a relationship with the existing scheme, and is now an increasingly paler representation of the Settlement Strategy.  This latest version confirms that the planning scheme, and the C84 amendment (which is now so convoluted as to be almost unable to be untangled) are apparently seen as able to be changed at will, without process or accountability.  Add to this Council's abysmal performance with the Woodend Structure Plan, and how can anyone believe or trust anything Council says or does?


Happy with that? 


If not, get hold of C84 from Council's website  There are two versions: one with, and one without, tracked changes. 


You can also check the 27 March report to Council (Item PE1), which includes a table showing what and how Council responded to the C84 panel report at


Coloured C84 changes are available in the agenda attachment PE1 on this web page (be warned: several colours are used and none are explained). The exhibited tracked-change version on Council's website shows changes in black and white only. Note: tracked changes may include changes made to C84 for the panel hearing in June 2012.  Also remember that latest changes are changes to the version of C84 presented to the panel in June 2012, which itself was C84 version 4.  A multitude of changes (moving away from the existing planning scheme) were made to C84 prior to the panel hearing version, and the version now on exhibition.


Read it and make a submission by 10 May (another miserly 4 week exhibition period).  You don't have to comment on everything, but do try to address the things that concern you, because you can bet that developers will be having their say. Note:  Council says you can only comment on the exhibited changes, not changes made before now. As neither the community nor Councillors of the day were consulted on many of the previous changes, you might disagree with Council and make comment as you see fit.   Follow up by appearing at the next round of panel hearings, and letting the panel know your concerns as well.


You might also want to contact your Councillors and ask them why they thought putting this dog's breakfast of an amendment on exhibition was a good idea, and did they actually read it before voting to exhibit?  The minutes show only Cr. Anderson voted against it. 



'Settle Woodend' Group Holds Community Meeting On Woodend Structure Plan And Amendment C84

(23/4/13-RA-P)  Discussions about these documents and making submissions on them:  Monday 29 April

'Settle Woodend', a group of local Woodend residents, is holding a community meeting on Monday 29th April, 7.00pm, at the Victoria Hotel (upstairs).  The group says:


"Woodend is facing many challenges from suggested widespread property development inside and outside of the village boundary.  Now is the time to be informed and have input.  Join us at a community meeting to discuss processes that are shaping the future and direction of property development in Woodend."


Be there, or register your interest at


MRRA Says:

This meeting was arranged before the Woodend Structure Plan meeting on 18 April.  Obviously, the issues to discuss will have expanded!



Amendment C84 - Interim Panel Report Confirms It's A Dog's Breakfast

(16/11/12-RA - P)   More money, professional expertise, more work and a re-write are needed to recover from Council's poor performance on this one 


When Council exhibited Amendment C84 just before Christmas in 2011, it insisted C84 just put the Settlement Strategy into the Macedon Ranges planning scheme, and 'updated' the Municipal Strategic Statement [MSS] 'in a policy-neutral way.'   


In MRRA's original submission, we said the amendment substantially changed the existing planning scheme/policy, without process or justification, and did it in an unskilled and agenda-driven way. 


The independent panel appointed by the Minister for Planning, which heard submissions on Amendment C84 in June, 2012, has now issued its findings.  The panel's report was released on 28 September, but Council held it for 28 days before making it public. 


The panel report is an interim one, meaning it makes recommendations for changes which then have to be taken back to the panel for further assessment.  Interim panel reports are not common, are usually indicative of major problems, and can be issued as an alternative to abandoning an amendment - providing one last chance to get it right.  The risk Council runs is that if it doesn't do the work the panel recommends, the panel may make a final recommendation to abandon C84. 


Council produced 4 versions of C84, two of which were not referred to Councillors (i.e. substantial changes were made by officers alone).  The first version tried to include the Gisborne and Romsey ODPs, before they received Ministerial approval.  The fourth version, dropped out without consulting Councillors or community at the panel hearing, was supposed to be the version that finally got it right.  Obviously not, because that's the version criticized in the panel's report.


The panel's report confirms changes to the MSS in C84 were not policy neutral.  It also found excessive emphasis on tourism and economic development, particularly in water catchments, at the expense of environment.  Important parts of the existing scheme have been left behind, or deleted (like the existing Rural Living policy).  The way the MSS has been put together (the formatting) was found to be far below acceptable standards, with parts in the wrong place, not clear, missing or not making sense - it just doesn't work.  Maps were likewise deficient, with one described as "unintelligible".  Errors - some fairly basic - go on and on.  


Although Council is playing down the embarrassing report as much as possible, apparently saying the panel just wants a few words changed, the panel's 30+ recommendations in fact say substantial work is needed to overcome the amendment's substantial deficiencies.


The panel recommendations themselves are succinct, but must be read together with the discussion that precedes them which identifies the range of issues to be addressed.  It would be a grave mistake to misinterpret them. 


For example, "review and revise the MSS to ensure references to tourism do not imply an overstated influence in planning decisions" isn't a minor edit, it's a review of the entire MSS.  Likewise, "review [Rural Living] provisions to ensure objectives and strategies reflect established policy..." and "review and edit the proposed MSS to ensure that the strength of existing policy is maintained" isn't cut, shuffle and paste a few words, it's put back what was silently taken out.  There are many other examples.


Then there's the challenge of moving everything around to put it where it belongs, reconsidering and rewriting that content, and integrating all those changes so there is some hope of a cohesive, professional document.  Mapping also must be revised and expanded, and all of the problems identified with how the Settlement Strategy - and settlement generally - has been represented in C84 for various towns also have to be addressed.  Recommendations for Woodend in particular highlight deficiencies in Council's approach (see also Woodend report), and identify the need for significant work to be done to support the Settlement Strategy's findings before going back to the panel.  Oh, yes, there's quite a lot of work to do - pretty much a rethink and rewrite of the whole thing.


In 1999, Macedon Ranges Shire Council received a similarly mortifying panel report in response to its 'in-house' attempt to produce a new planning scheme.  The word 'unintelligible' likewise came up in that report, along with 'error-ridden and cobbled together'.   The C84 outcome suggests that in terms of strategic planning, Council hasn't really progressed from where it was 12 years ago.  It seems that the best planning practice ethos fostered by former CEO Ian Morris is no longer in play at Council, and standards, skills and culture are poor.   Sloppy work also comes at a high cost to ratepayers, and does not represent value for money spent.


The decision now facing Council is whether or not to cut its losses and abandon C84 (or parts of it), or to spend the money to hire someone with the specialist professional expertise and experience needed to fix C84 properly. 


Given the panel's findings on C84, there would be benefit in engaging a planning professional not involved to date in the preparation of the Settlement Strategy/C84, who has experience and credibility with the type of work required, and with Macedon Ranges.   In 1998 Trevor Budge rewrote the new format scheme's MSS, and in 1999 he reconciled the 100+ new format scheme panel recommendations into the new scheme.  He has also done strategic work for the former Shire of Gisborne and the 2002 Macedon Ranges Rural Land Strategy, and co-authored the Macedon Ranges Cultural Heritage and Landscape Study.  In MRRA's view, this person has the right credentials, would be an outstanding candidate for the task, and one in which the Association would have confidence. 


MRRA Says:


Other dismal performances came from most last-term Councillors, who appear to have not taken sufficient interest in or responsibility for this amendment, and failed to ensure the limited delegated authority afforded officers was not interpreted as 'carte blanche'.  Only Crs. Letchford and Guthrie opposed sending C84 to a panel, instead calling for it to be abandoned.  Former Cr. Neil Manning agreed to send it to a panel because he couldn't see a political solution available at Council.  And there's the rub - planning held ransom to politics rarely produces anything that resembles planning.


In addition to Council's shortcomings, the Department of Planning and Community Development allowed this deficient amendment to be exhibited, suggesting higher standards of quality control are needed at Departmental level.


And although the panel confirmed the continued relevance of Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 [SPP8], and said put back what C84 removes from the planning scheme, Macedon Ranges continues to wait for the State government to make SPP8 State policy.  The urgency for this to happen, and to form the basis for re-writing C84, is obvious.


MRRA will be preparing a summary of the panel's discussion and recommendations, and assessing Council's response against them.


One more thing...

On the final panel hearing day Council's representative presented Council's closing response to submissions made at the hearing.  That response admitted C84 was not policy neutral, and that the Rural Living Policy had been deleted.  It also told the Panel Council agreed to ditch the "No greenfields rezoning" statement at Woodend.  Click here to see Council's closing response.


After the panel hearing, MRRA sent an email to Council, asking why it lied to the community about C84 being 'policy neutral' and why it betrayed the people of Woodend.  Click here to see the response provided by former councillor, Helen Relph.



The Stench Of Davies Hill/Villawood Is Back

(16/11/12 - P)  And if you are silly enough to believe them, only 290 quarter-acre lots this time on their 550 acres of farming land 


Only days after the recent Council election, Davies Hill/Villawood Properties P/L speared in another application to rezone Farming and Rural Conservation zones for suburban-style greenfields development. 

Lucky old Woodend, it's 'only' 290 lots* this time.  Premature, pre-emptive, unwanted, not needed, but only 290.


* 290 lots is 55% more lots than the 530 lots the Macedon Ranges Settlement Strategy says Woodend needs to accommodate growth until 2036. 


The catalyst for this latest feeding frenzy seems to be the irresistible allure of new, inexperienced councillors perhaps ripe for suckering into supporting their proposal; and Villawood's self-serving misrepresentation of the Amendment C84 panel findings as giving Villawood a green light.  The C84 panel report does nothing of the kind.


The panel's findings for Woodend require careful reading.  Importantly, the panel supported the Settlement Strategy's conclusion that there should only be modest growth in Woodend. 


However, the report says Council hasn't done enough work to strategically justify this level of growth, or reject greenfields development.   All the panel heard was why the Davies Hill/Villawood and Rawson Wood (Moon property, Lancefield Road) greenfields developments should go ahead, not why they shouldn't.  Council couldn't respond because it hadn't done the equivalent strategic work needed to counter those claims.  Council also hadn't done enough to strategically justify Woodend being the exception to the Settlement Strategy's aim of directing growth to towns in the Calder Corridor, and towns with 'good' infrastructure. 


Contrary to Villawood's furphy in this week's Midland Express that the report says there are no constraints on land north of the town, the panel report recognizes there are significant constraints (flooding, landscape character and the Avenue of Honour, for example), but Council hadn't adequately addressed them or sufficiently investigated and assessed the implications of different growth scenarios.  Instead of putting a figure on growth in the town, strategic constraints to growth and greenfields development need to be identified, and more work done on protection of character, to demonstrate why the Settlement Strategy's findings** are strategically sound. 


** Latest ABS census data (Basic Community Profiles - Woodend Township) show 85 more occupied dwellings in the town in 2011 than in 2006 (i.e. 17 more per year ). This continues and reflects the rate of increase over the previous 15 years, which is the basis for land requirements identified in the Settlement Strategy for Woodend.


The panel report says remove the Settlement Strategy's statement about no greenfields rezoning for Woodend from C84 - but Council said it first. On the last day of the panel hearing, as if sensing it was in trouble, Council told the panel it supported dropping the statement.


Faced with unrelenting pressure for greenfields development, missing strategic work, and Council changing its position, the panel report says investigate, assess and address strategic issues, including constraints and potential for greenfields development, and evaluate impacts of development north of the town, as part of the Woodend Town Structure Plan process. 


Yes, the panel report raises questions about Woodend, but it doesn't say change direction, and certainly doesn't give Davies Hill/Villawood or Rawson Wood any 'green light'.  


Council and the community are under no obligation to support either proposal, but Council will need to produce high level and high quality strategic work - thoroughly addressing environmental, planning, economic, social and infrastructure issues - to keep it that way.  The panel report's premise is that comprehensive strategic assessment may identify opportunities for a mix of infill and greenfields development to accommodate modest growth.  On the other hand, it may not.  The problem the panel report identifies is that the work needed to make that judgement hasn't been done.  It also expresses related concerns for other towns, particularly Riddells Creek.


MRRA Says:


MRRA representatives attended some hearing days, and it seemed that a main focus of Council's submission was defending the population numbers in the Settlement Strategy.  Council didn't have answers to developers' claims that their proposals were strategically sound.  This omission comes through in some of the report's assumptions - such as Woodend only floods in low lying areas, and the town has a secondary school (Braemar College - which is a private school). 


In fact much is made of the town's 'good' infrastructure.  Yet this classification seems based more on developer descriptions and Council's flawed Moving Towards A Sustainable Community document (a supporting document for the Settlement Strategy) than how it all actually works.  For example, Woodend may well have two primary schools, but they - and child care facilities - are at bursting point with the existing population.  Varying levels of infrastructure and services may exist, but what hasn't been tackled is a realistic assessment of capacity, their ability to serve existing and future residents' needs, and what improvements/additions even Settlement Strategy growth would trigger.  Additional greenfields development - remote from the existing town - would be a whole new ball game as far as providing infrastructure and services goes.  Council needs to undertake detailed analysis of these issues.


Developer submissions seem to infer the Woodend community chose the Settlement Strategy's 2036  growth projection, and on that basis it is unreliable.  That's not correct.  Council produced the numbers based on historical growth rates; the community supported it.  It has never been about no growth in Woodend.  The point the Settlement Strategy and community is making is that there is enough land already available to keep growing at traditional levels.  Small developments within the town provide on-going opportunities for new housing and diversity; and high population turnover allows new residents to move into existing housing stock.  Historical housing demand is relatively low, and latest census data suggests that historical market demand is being and can continue to be accommodated within the town proper as per the Settlement Strategy's predictions.


What those speculating in large-scale, greenfields development are trying to create is a second market for their speculative products (additional to the existing market within the town itself), for which they need accelerated growth.  This has nothing to do with the town's best interests, of course; it's all about profit.


And in pursuit of self-interest, it looks like nothing is too gross for Davies Hill/Villawood, who are apparently setting up a shop front in Woodend to promote their product and try to convince the Woodend community to like them.  Hmm... might be fat chance of that, with the anger generated by the latest revelations of who has been working for Villawood, and who was supporting some candidates in the recent Council election.  Oh, what a tangled web they weave...



Amendment C84: Local Planning Policy Framework (MSS) Exhibited

(24/12/11 - P)  Here we go again.  Council's 2011 Christmas gift to the community - submissions closed December 19


Council recently put Amendment C84 on exhibition, with comments closing on 19 December - that is, the amendment was exhibited for only one month, with submissions closing just before Christmas.  Same thing happened with the Macedon Ranges Settlement Strategy, this time last year.


Council is saying C84 'implements' the now adopted Macedon Ranges Settlement Strategy into the Macedon Ranges Planning Scheme, with a policy-neutral 'update' of the Municipal Strategic Statement [MSS] based on community consultation from 2008. 


Amendment C84 updates the Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS) and implements the Macedon Ranges Settlement Strategy.  Any person who may be affected by the amendment may make a submission to the planning authority. The closing date for submissions is Monday 19 December 2011.


MRRA Says:


At first glance, you could be duped into believing this amendment's just a bit of 'housekeeping' and not really worth worrying about.




The C84 amendment is in fact another sub-standard piece of strategic planning from Macedon Ranges Shire. 


Just a few things stand out about Amendment C84:


If you haven't worked it out yet, MRRA is deeply unimpressed, not least by the way Amendment C84 is misrepresented as 'policy-neutral' when in reality, it changes everything.  More than that is the way it changes everything - without justification, without a proper review and consultation process, without transparency and accountability - that doubles the amount of bother it causes us.  The extent and timing of exhibition also riles - one month, and the month before Christmas at that.


There's a saying that, when something happens over Christmas, it's because there's something someone doesn't want you to know.  Yep, that about sums it up... 


MRRA did manage to get a submission in before the cut off date, but under the circumstances wouldn't be surprised if there weren't many others. 


In our submission, we've requested that everything except the Settlement Strategy be taken out of C84 (other elements should run under their own amendments and processes), and that C84 then be re-exhibited to allow people to see what changes are being made to the existing planning scheme by introducing the Strategy.  If Council decides to decline this request, we've requested that the entire C84 amendment be abandoned.