Archive:   Macedon Lodge

 Last Updated 25/3/14



Williams' Group at Macedon Lodge At It Again

18/10/13 - P  More destruction of native vegetation - too much is not enough. 

Friday 18 October saw the bulldozers and burners at it again, just two days after Macedon MP Joanne Duncan's terrific speech in parliament


Update:  as at 31/10/13,  Macedon Lodge continues clearing, Macedon Ranges Council still rooted to the spot, refusing to take action or penalise the environmental vandalism at Macedon Lodge.  MRSC now bookies' favourite for 'inaction' award.


MRRA Says:

Puzzle:  Why does Council decide it needs a planning permit to remove native vegetation (11 trees) at Straws Lane and Romsey Road, but then can't decide whether Lloyd Williams needs one to illegally demolish hectares of native vegetation   Both pieces of land have the same planning overlay controls (Environment Significance, Vegetation Protection and Significant Landscape), and the same permit triggers.  Hey, Council, why do you need a permit, but Macedon Lodge doesn't?   Looks like favouritism to us - one rule for some, another for others.  


More Drama - And Arrogance And Environmental Damage - As Macedon Lodge Defies Department's "Don't Do It"

(28/7/08 - P)  Kangaroos run off property onto road.  Is Macedon Lodge the "neighbour from Hell"?  Should they go?

In the latest display of arrogance and complete insensitivity to its surroundings, and even though apparently having assured the Department of Sustainability and Environment [DSE] that it would not act, last Thursday Macedon Lodge management rounded up and evicted kangaroos from the property.  Chased by people on quad bikes, the terrified kangaroos hit fences before being herded onto and along Syndicate Road.  One lone joey had a horrible time before finally taking off in search of the mob, and Mum.  Luckily, no traffic was on the road at the time.


MRRA Says:


The word went around last week that something was about to go down at Macedon Lodge: a kangaroo 'round-up' on Thursday.  Then early on Thursday came word that the Department had stepped in, and it was all off pending a meeting between DSE and Macedon Lodge the following Monday.  Then came ominous reports of shade cloth being put up. Then the report that IT was on.  Reports from eye witnesses say people on quad bikes chased the kangaroos across the property, up towards a single open gate, but many ended up running into the fences - one apparently visibly injured. 


What is it about Macedon Lodge management - does it think it is a law unto itself?  Seems that way.  First the illegal earthworks, and defiance of a Council stop work order. Then defiance of a VCAT order.  Now defiance of the Department of Sustainability and Environment. 


While we understand DSE intends to prosecute, the potential for fines doesn't seem to be a deterrent (when you've got that much money it would be a surprise if it was!), so who knows, maybe the lesson will only be learnt with a spell behind bars...


Feedback provided to MRRA is that most of its neighbours have had a gutful of Macedon Lodge too, not to mention the damage this behaviour is doing to the image of racing.


On top of everything else, it seems the stable manure is being heaped up amongst the trees which will likely kill the trees (strange - wasn't the stable effluent supposed to be treated, wasn't there supposed to be an EPA works approval?).  Then there's the dam.  Or is that the NEW dam?  The one that appears to have trees in it.  Um, so when was doing it the way it's being done approved?  We believe some people are starting to ask that question of relevant authorities.


Macedon Lodge is a near perfect example of the wrong thing in the wrong place.  The land is in a conservation zone (RCZ); it's also a potable water catchment, which means people drink the water that runs across it; and it's on the steepish slopes of Mount Macedon.  There are obvious restrictions on what can and can't be done - at least, our guess is that's how most law-abiding, thinking people would see it.


Maybe it's time Macedon Lodge got the message: You've made a mistake. You've got the wrong property for what you want to do. 

It would be doing everyone an enormous favour if you went, now, before any more damage is done.  Please, just go away and leave this place to those who love it the way it is.



Macedon Lodge Case Flares Again As More Works Are Done - Contrary To VCAT Order, Says Council

(20/11/07 - P)  Macedon Ranges Council asks VCAT to find owners in contempt

Council is again taking the owners of Macedon Lodge to VCAT, this time apparently after yet more works were carried out, works which Council considers breach a partial stop order issued by VCAT last September.  That order came about after massive earthworks were undertaken in August without a planning permit. 


Council subsequently took the owners back to VCAT again in mid-September because there were difficulties making arrangements with the owners for Council to access the property.  On that second occasion VCAT upheld Council's request to give only two hours' notice to the owner before entering the property to inspect for illegal works.  This time around, the outcome could be quite serious for the offenders. 


If found in breach of a VCAT order, the person can be imprisoned until they comply with the order or for 3 months, or have a fine of more than $2,000 imposed and a further $500+ for each day the non-compliance continues (max. $5000+), or both imprisonment and fine.


In the VCAT Act, S137, contempt is described as relating to insult, obstruction, hindering, misbehaving and interrupting, as well as any act "that would, if the Tribunal were the Supreme Court, constitute contempt of that Court".  If found in contempt, VCAT may commit a person to prison for not more than 5 years or impose a very hefty fine, or both.  Click here to see the Macedon Lodge saga so far.


MRRA Says:


Our sources suggest there may have been defiance of an order given by Council earlier last week to stop the works that are at the centre of this latest trip down to VCAT.  A Council order to stop work was defied in August which resulted in substantial works carried out prior to a partial stop work order being issued by VCAT. 


Macedon Lodge is of course located within a sensitive drinking water catchment.  MRRA says it's time to get some unambiguous messages out there.  People must begin to understand that they can't just come here and do whatever they like.  They must begin to understand that there are other things - more important than them and what they might want - which must take precedence over personal aspirations. 


Trends in performances to date suggest the owners seem to have a rather blinkered view when it comes to understanding that formal processes exist, and must be complied with.  Or could there be an arrogant belief that 'some people are above' the law operating here?  


Given the abysmal track record of the current owners so far in undertaking works without permission, if VCAT accepts that an offence has occurred in this latest example, wouldn't it be time to impose a penalty sufficiently memorable that it would make people think at least twice before doing it again? 


MRRA supports Council's action, and heartily wishes all power to VCAT's arm.


VCAT Issues Order That Council Can Enter Macedon Lodge To Inspect Property

(20/9/07 - P)  No agreement reached between parties so VCAT decided - in Council's favour

At the hearing on and in orders made on 6 September, VCAT Vice President declined to make an interim enforcement order against the owners of Macedon Lodge based upon an undertaking given to VCAT by the owners, Ms Gibson not being convinced that an order was necessary at that time.  However, following further discussion between Council and the owners of the property (where substantial earthworks were recently undertaken without a planning permit), it seems they were unable to agree on conditions for Council to access the property if the need arose.  Council had at the 6 September hearing applied for consent from VCAT to be able to enter the property with the owner's consent, or without consent but with 2 hours' notice (the Planning and Environment Act usually requires 2 days' notice).  This time around, Ms. Gibson granted Council's request.  Click here to see her order.


UPDATE  Environmental Disaster, And Arrogance, At Macedon Lodge As "Freeway" Scale Earthworks Continue

(6/9/07 - P)   Early signs are that a 2 day VCAT hearing supports partial stop-work

Details are still sketchy but after what seems a prolonged VCAT "emergency" hearing, headed up by Vice President Helen Gibson, it seems an undertaking by the owners of Macedon Lodge to stop works in the southern portion of the property, and only undertake "temporary" or "maintenance" works in the northern portion is the result.


Environmental Disaster, And Arrogance, At Macedon Lodge As "Freeway" Scale Earthworks Continue

(3/9/07 - P)   New ownership ignores repeated Council orders to stop illegally bulldozing the property

It has been a nightmare weekend fraught with pain and anger for some Macedon Ranges' residents (and Council officers) who have watched in horror as part of the Macedon Lodge property in Tucketts Road, Mt. Macedon has been illegally bulldozed, if not 'moonscaped', and towering areas of fill rising over parts of the property.  One person who saw the wholesale devastation on Friday afternoon described the scale of works then as "freeway", but there has been substantially more excavation since with reports of a hill and vineyard bulldozed on Saturday afternoon. 


Council visited the site on Friday and ordered works to stop while it sought an interim stop work order from VCAT.  However works began again on Saturday, and Council again visited the site early Saturday afternoon at which time workers agreed to halt activities.  Shortly afterwards, though, works began again, and another Council visit and order to stop was again ignored.  By Sunday morning reports surfaced that more machinery had been brought in and works were going ahead 'hell for leather'.  Council again visited the site but again, orders to stop were ignored, and by this morning, reportedly there were chains across access points and Council was refused entry.  At this time, it seems a stop order has not yet been obtained from VCAT.


Macedon Lodge was recently the subject of a VCAT case where VCAT refused an application for a massive hotel and restaurant complex based, in part, on the property's sensitivity.  It is zoned Rural Conservation, and is located within a proclaimed drinking water catchment.  A permit is required under several sections of the planning scheme for even minor earthworks.  No permit has issued for the works currently in progress. 


After the recent VCAT hearing, the property was apparently sold into the ownership of interests involving Mr. Lloyd Williams, of thoroughbred racing and Crown Casino fame.


MRRA Says:

Is this a perfect example of some thinking they are above the law?   Where, and who, do these people think they are?  Our understanding is that at ownership level, the belief is that nothing wrong is being done, despite repeated warnings that works happening on the property are in fact illegal, and despite repeated orders to stop.  It seems to MRRA that in these circumstances, even a stop order from VCAT might not make a lot of difference to such sheer arrogance.  The fact that the land produces drinking water seems irrelevant.  It's not to us!  


There is a maximum fine of $120,000 for offences against the planning scheme.  MRRA believes that, from the information it has, the breach appears to be such that the largest book should be found, and vigorously thrown.


Residents may wish to take a drive to the property and see for themselves.  It runs from Zig Zag Road to the north, Tucketts Road along its eastern boundary, to Syndicate Road to the south.  Our spies tell us, you definitely can't miss what's been/being done.


You can also make your views known by sending an email to:


The Minister for Planning and Community Development, Justin Madden

The Minister for Environment & Climate Change, Gavin Jennings on

The Minister for Water, Tim Holding on

Local Macedon MP, Joanne Duncan 

Leader of the Opposition, Ted Baillieu

The Nationals' Peter Ryan on

The Greens' Greg Barber

The DLP's Peter Kavanagh


Zero Stars For Council As VCAT Says No To Giant 'Six-Star' Macedon Lodge Resort : It's Prohibited

(9/4/07 - P) Even though most of Macedon Ranges' Councillors (and Planning Manager) said it was a great idea, VCAT says this resort proposal is not only prohibited but not good enough to go ahead.

Remember how Cr. Helen Relph seemed to gush and Cr. John Connor got right behind this proposal (moving and seconding the motion to approve); how then Mayor Geoff Neil cast the deciding vote to break a 3 -3 tie; how Council took 3 hours to make a decision to approve this proposal?  Ah, Macedon Lodge, the much-touted but mythical 'six star' hotel proposal that some of our Councillors sounded as if they had fallen in love with.  The proposal that became prohibited when the new State rural zones were introduced, but came back with a new name.  Big talk, big spending - and in the end, a big mistake. 


VCAT's decision delivered a double blow to Council - first off it found Council had approved a prohibited use, and it then went on to say that even if the proposal hadn't been prohibited, it wasn't good enough to get a permit anyway.  It didn't meet the planning scheme's requirements for land zoned Rural Conservation, and it also failed on its visual impacts, it was too big, all elements of the proposal hadn't been put forward for consideration, the scale of the owner's concrete-walled, 3 storey residence had too high an impact on the valley's character, traffic arrangements weren't acceptable, and the scale and extent of the whole proposal's impact was simply too intense for the land.  VCAT also noted that Council's support for sewering the proposal appeared at odds with the directions it has set for the Shire in the Macedon Ranges planning scheme.


VCAT noted:


(27): "At the time of the Council's consideration of the application it was necessary for both the residential hotel and restaurant to be determined as being "in conjunction with" agriculture (per Section 2 of the RCZone then operating).


(28) This matter is not mentioned in the officer report... we are not aware to what extent, if any, the Council was made aware of an obligation for the uses to meet a statutory test before contemplating the planning merits."


Barry Green, Council's Manager of Planning, recommended Council approve the Macedon Lodge proposal.


To rub salt into Council's wound, not only has VCAT made this one of its special 'RED DOT'  decisions, which means everyone and their dog in the planning and development industry will likely read it, but the Municipal Association of Victoria also carried a story about it in its March newsletter, which ensures all Victorian Councils see it as well.  Isn't there something about running, but not hiding?


The VCAT number/s for this decision is P23312/06 and P2616/06, dated 20 February 2007.  You can find it by going to the following website:


MRRA Says:


Well done, objector Lindy and the opposing team from Mt. Macedon.  And a 'well done' to Crs. Tom Gyorffy, Rob Guthrie and John Letchford for calling it correctly when it seems all around them couldn't see any further than the 'nice spot, good idea, lovely people' principle so regularly and often disastrously applied by the majority at Council.


We did note one fascinating comment in the VCAT decision.  It's at  page 5 in the footnotes: "There is also now a further provision that the lot upon which the use is conducted must be at least the minimum subdivision specified in the schedule to this zone (being 40 hectares) where the land is in metropolitan Melbourne.  But that is not applicable given the transitional provisions. Moreover the site is outside the metropolitan area.".


Late last year, just before the State election, the Bracks government yielded to pressure from Mornington Peninsula in particular and changed the controls for the Rural Conservation Zone, the zone that applies to the Macedon Lodge property, and is also applied in Green Wedge areas in metro Melbourne.  One of those changes makes it harder to make an application for residential hotels, restaurants and the like in the RCZ unless the land (lot) the development is sited on is at least the minimum subdivision lot size for the zone.  We don't know the size of the lot the development was proposed on at Macedon Lodge, but VCAT described the property as "121.3 hectares in area, in multiple lots".   But in the end the property size didn't matter because Macedon Ranges isn't a Green Wedge and isn't in metro Melbourne, so the changes don't apply here.


Two points:


(1)  When will our Council amend the schedule to the Rural Conservation zone to restrict the number of beds and the number of seats that a residential hotel and restaurant (respectively) can have in this zone in this Shire?


(2)  Why has the government discriminated against rural areas?  That's where most of the 'open' drinking water catchments are, and large hotels and restaurants aren't usually seen as desirable developments in those catchments.  How about looking at it again, and giving rural areas better controls to protect catchments?


Macedon Lodge Resort Gets Nod:  Call It Existing Use, Or Ancillary, Or Ancillary To Ancillary, But Don't Mention 'Prohibited'

(20/6/06 - P)  4 Councillors go for converted stables being a '6 star' hotel... whatever that is.

After a marathon 3 hour session just to decide this one planning application, the public gallery were left wondering why take so much time when it came out the way most people expected anyway.   With Councillors McGregor and Harvey absent, at the end it was tied 3 all (Crs. Connor, Bleeck and Relph for, Crs. Letchford, Guthrie and Gyorffy against) then the Mayor, Geoff Neill cast the deciding vote in favour of the development. 


The same players voted the opposite way on an earlier alternative motion to refuse the application put forward by John Letchford - the Mayor's casting vote likewise saw the proposal to refuse defeated.  Round and round it went. 


There were plenty of objectors who talked of unacceptable noise, roads unable to cope, and the inappropriateness of the development from the perspective of impacts on a water catchment, landscape and amenity, and it being too intensive in a conservation setting/zone.  But that wasn't enough to convince those who supported it to change their minds.  They apparently thought it was a good idea and what a bonus, the applicant's representative said it would be a 6 star hotel.  Now that one got people wondering just what a 6 star hotel was. 


Mt. Macedon resident, Cr. Helen Relph, who moved the motion to approve, said she'd stayed at a 6 star hotel on the Gold Coast.  She thought the proposal addressed all of the concerns it raised, she would hate to sneeze at creating 70 jobs, and as far as concerns about visitors driving on local roads went, she thought visitors might behave better than local drivers.  She had heard all concerns.  Cr. Guthrie on the other hand said the proposal was 'rubbish' and got severely wrapped over the knuckles for saying it.  He added it was totally contrary to the zone, was in no way sensitive to the area, and was simply the same as an earlier proposal for 29 apartments (including kitchens in each room) recently refused by Council as prohibited, now rebadged as a residential hotel and restaurant because neither of these are prohibited outright.  The name had changed, the proposal hadn't [this was supported by an error in the proposed permit conditions, one of which still referred to 29 apartments].  Cr. Gyorffy spent some time trying to establish with the applicant's representative what the dominant use of the land would be with the hotel and restaurant etc. on it, and why the rooms have kitchens - weren't they still apartments which are prohibited by the planning scheme?  Cr. Connor asked about expected occupancy rates - it seems only 35 - 65% occupancy is anticipated.  This raised a stir with objectors, some of whom had argued the Shire was at risk of being left with a 'white elephant'.  


So, in the end, it was moved Cr. Helen Relph (South ward ), seconded Cr. John Connor (West ward ) and carried with the votes of Cr. Henry Bleeck (East ward ) and the Mayor Geoff Neill (East ward) that the proposal go ahead.  By which time, it was after 10pm with a long evening stretching out before all present.


MRRA Says:

What's in a name?  Plenty it seems.  Enough to make something that was prohibited a couple of months ago not prohibited now.   Well done to Crs. Letchford, Gyorffy and Guthrie for actually looking at what the planning scheme said about the type of development that should (could), and shouldn't (couldn't), go in this area.  MRRA went looking for '6 star hotel'.  Found one or two, even found a 7 star hotel.  But we couldn't find any hotel with an official or certified star rating of more than 5 (i.e. a rating assigned by a peak tourism body after inspecting a premises) in Australia, USA, England or Europe. And that's because the official stars don't go over 5.   Even 5 stars were thin on the ground, and when you look at what it takes to get that rating (e.g. 24 hour room service, valet service, concierge), it leaves you wondering who thought up the '6 stars' for a converted stables with kitchens in each room and a cleaning lady coming around once a day.   Could it be that some Councillors (i.e. Crs. Relph, Bleeck, Connor and Neill) have had their legs pulled?   One objector said after the final vote, you four should be ashamed of yourselves, although Cr. Relph did make a late attempt to respond to some of the objectors' concerns by taking the polo field out of this proposal at the last minute.  That just left the 72 bedroom converted stable/apartments/6star hotel, the 76 relocated stables, the 150 person restaurant, the new (huge) 3 or 4 storey owners' 'dwelling' - and the relocation of the training track.  And the existing vineyard, and the existing thoroughbred training.  Oh, and the extension of reticulated sewer from Macedon to half way up Mt. Macedon, and connection to reticulated gas and reticulated water, and whatever Melbourne Water might have wanted as stormwater management permit conditions (sorry, couldn't wait for MW to respond).  Council's Manager of Planning, Mr. Barry Green, was the officer who put forward the recommendation to approve.  We have to ask, why?



Macedon Lodge Up For Decision Next Wednesday (14 June)?

(10/6/06 - P)  What should be a prohibited development lives on and, as always, is likely to be seen as a 'good idea' by most of our Councillors - so what if it's in a drinking water catchment?

MRRA is hearing this awful over-development proposal is likely to come before Council next Wednesday.  The original application for this development was refused earlier this year as prohibited under the new rural zonings.  But now called something that isn't prohibited outright, back it comes.  A rose is a rose...  We hear the country club, extra large new house and polo field etc. etc. are being called 'ancillary' and 'related' to rural use of the land.


MRRA Says:

It's not a pretty picture but we say anyone who thinks this lot is a good idea is wearing the Emporer's New Clothes. Just like the retirement village on the floodplain, MRRA thinks it's odds-on this proposal will get 5 hands for approval in the air.  The pity of it is most of our Councillors won't see the relationship between developments and decisions like these and copping a 43% community satisfaction rating for planning.  We hear there are plenty of people on Mt. Macedon who aren't happy about it - we suggest they make it a priority to go to the Council meeting and watch who votes which way.


ALERT  Macedon Lodge Proposal Is Back As Residential Hotel And Restaurant

(28/3/06 - P)  Blunder in Amendment C48 allows permit application in Rural Conservation Zone

Residents will need to be quick if they want to object to this 'recycled' proposal.  It appeared in local newspapers today as Planning Permit Application P206-0067.  The use and development proposed is a Residential Hotel and Restaurant, Owners Dwelling, Polo Field and relocation of Horse Stables and Training Track.  The applicant is Jillbandi Pty. Ltd. c/- Gattini and Partners.  The application can be inspected at Council's Kyneton and Gisborne offices.


MRRA Says:

What's in a name?  Forgive us for being cynical about this but just a few weeks ago Council went through what now appears to be a charade of knocking the earlier Macedon Lodge application, for an equine country club and spa etc., on the head.  The reason?  It's prohibited under the new Rural Conservation zoning introduced by Amendment C48!  Now 'another' major development proposal for the same land is already in for consideration.  How did 'prohibited' become 'unprohibited'?  Put it down to the new State rural zones, and someone seriously dropping the ball on quality control in Amendment C48.  The original Rural Conservation Zone (RCZ) prohibited hotels for more than 20 people, and restaurants for more than 100 people. The RCZ we've got now allows developers to apply for residential hotels of up to 80 bedrooms, and restaurants for up to 150 people - UNLESS we say in the zone schedule that we don't want them. Guess what?  No-one said anything in our zone schedules, leaving us wide open to applications for intense use and development in some of the most sensitive places in Victoria - water catchments, Mount Macedon, even the Gisborne Escarpment.  Congratulations, Department of Sustainability and Environment, for shafting Macedon Ranges yet again. 


ACTION:  MRRA is already writing to the Minister for Planning.  You should send an email or a letter to the Minister, Mr. Hulls, and call/write/email your local State politicians demanding that this situation be corrected immediately. 

It should never have happened in the first place.  Tell your friends too.   Click here for politicians' contact details.


Large Use and Development Proposals Fall Before C48 And New Rural Zones

(27/2/06 - P)  Macedon Lodge and Live Game Ranch are among the first to go

The introduction of Amendment C48 brings good news for those who have been fighting large development proposals in rural areas, or more correctly, in sensitive environmental areas.  MRRA's understanding is that applications for a Live Game Ranch (that is, a proposal for shooting live game) in Pastoria and another for a Convention Centre and Spa at Macedon Lodge on Mt. Macedon have been withdrawn as both are now prohibited under the new Rural Conservation zone.  The proposal for a retirement village at Macedon House in Gisborne is still 'alive' because the applicant is seeking a 'spot' rezoning (C52) of the Rural Conservation zone (which prohibits the development) now applied to the land.  As 'spot' rezoning usually makes a mockery of the concept of strategic planning, we would hope the State government starts sending that message to Councils and Councillors who see 'spot' rezoning for individual applications as an acceptable way to get around planning scheme strategies and controls.  It just doesn't seem to occur to them that the development might be in the wrong spot...



UPDATE  Macedon Lodge: Mega Development Proposal Pales As Property Is Put On The Market

(29/9/05 – P)  But will it fade completely away?

You have probably all heard by now that the applicant for this proposal has placed the property on the market.  But… apparently the development application has not yet been withdrawn.


MRRA Says:

A big ‘well done’ to the 120 plus objectors who have put such a lot of time, effort and emotion into objecting to this example of gross over-development. Despite Minister Hulls’ bold statement that he will introduce the new State rural zones State-wide in a matter of weeks, here in Macedon Ranges we’ve been waiting some 6 months for him to deliver the new zones here.  When (if!) the Minister for Planning finally gets around to applying the new State rural zones (Rural Conservation) to this property, this type of proposal will become a prohibited development.


Macedon Lodge:  29 Houses, A Conference Centre and Assorted ‘Ancillaries’ In A Mount Macedon Water Catchment

(10/8/05 – SP) Another ‘fast-tracking’ application for over-development that could be stopped in its tracks by the Minister for Planning?   Get your objections in…

Yet another ‘mammoth’ development proposal application has been received by Macedon Ranges Council.  This time it’s an application for ‘almost everything’ in a proclaimed drinking water catchment at Macedon Lodge, Tucketts Road, Mt. Macedon.  Apparently not content with the 70 odd existing stables on the property, this application wants 29 houses, more stables, pool, tennis courts, gym, training track and conference centre.


MRRA Says:

If the Minister for Planning would just approve the translation of Macedon Ranges rural zones into the new State rural zones (as Council requested back in March), this proposal, which seems to want to turn a drinking water catchment into a housing estate, would be prohibited.   Doesn’t the State government have policies for sustainability and protecting water resources?  Or don’t they apply in Macedon Ranges?