Archive: Supermarkets

Last Updated 10/8/15




Riddells Creek







Is Parking Just A Bit Too ‘Squeezy’ at Coles?

(31/5/05 - P) MRRA test drives Gisborne’s new supermarket.

At the planning stage, objectors raised strong concerns with the standards and amount of parking for this proposal, so having heard rumours of several ‘bingles’ in the car park of Gisborne’s newly opened Coles supermarket, last Friday afternoon we decided to check it out for ourselves.  MRRA reps didn’t see any accidents, but we did see people having difficulty getting into and particularly out of car spaces, and would have had difficulty getting out ourselves if the parking space behind us hadn’t been empty.   If you’ve had problems, tell us your experience by sending an email to



Riddells Creek

see also Getting Riddell Right



Getting Riddell Right [GRR]:  Not-To-Be-Missed Arts Fundraiser At Dromkeen Homestead, November 15, 4.00pm

(10/11/14 - CC)   GRR prepares for VCAT case against supermarket - your support warmly welcomed   Supermarket File    Getting Riddell Right  Red Alerts


Here's a message from Getting Riddell Right


"Men and Women of Australia,


We hope you can find room for this  event for your diary (November 15, 4pm) in less than two weeks, at the beautiful Dromkeen Homestead in Riddell.  We have over 90 works of art, from investments to enjoy (Arthur Boyd collagraphs) to prints and paintings, woodwork, sculptures and photographs.  Christmas presents for you and your loved ones, or just something small or large for that hard to fill space on your shelves or your walls or floor.  There are also fabulous works by Riddell Primary School students.


Our VCAT case starts on November 17th, two days after the show opens. This is the 6th fundraising event we have held, to pay for assistance with the case, which aims to keep a HUGE supermarket from being built in the middle of Riddell.


Please consider yourself invited to join the fun and help us pay for all the work  needed to succeed at VCAT...


Jenny Grounds and John  Nicholson,  Part of team GRR. PO Box 48, Riddells Creek 3431"


MRRA Says:

Go, go, go, GRR.


UPDATE   From Getting Riddell Right "Trivia Night" 5 July

(13/7/14 - CC) Splendid results but that's no surprise from GRR  GRR File  Red Alerts

120 people attended, and over $4,000 raised for the community's VCAT case against supermarket proposal. 


MRRA Says:

Extremely well done.  What a determined bunch - glad we are on their side!


Getting Riddell Right "Trivia Night" Fundraiser For VCATSupermarket  Case

(2/7/14 - CC)  Saturday July 5, Riddells Creek Hotel : IF YOU CARE, BE THERE!   GRR File   Red Alerts

Following their Supreme Court victory, it's full steam ahead for the Riddells Creek community, raising money to fund their VCAT case.  Please help if you can.   Here's the message from GRR: 


Our next fundraiser is another fabulous TRIVIA NIGHT at the RIDDELLS CREEK HOTEL.  It will be heaps of fun like the last one, and we need the funds to keep running our case for a better outcome for the centre of Riddells Creek.  


Where:  Riddells Creek Hotel

When:  Saturday 5th July 2014, 7.30 pm

How much?:  $30 per head.  Tables of 10 pre-paid $250.  Dips and nibbles included, drinks at bar prices.

Bookings:  Lyn Hovey, SMS or phone 0418559640, OR email


We hope to fill 12 tables of 10, and only have half that so far booked, so PLEASE get your tables organised or just book for yourself with Lyn Hovey, 0417559640 or


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  C84 File  Red Alerts


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 2968

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.  



Getting Riddell Right Gets VCAT Determination Overturned By Supreme Court

(22/5/14 - P)   The GRR mob were definitely the 'mouse that roared'  


Local community group, Getting Riddell Right  has proven there is justice, even for the little fellas.


After an unfavourable ruling at VCAT last year that quashed the group's ability to appeal against Macedon Ranges Council's approval of a gigantic supermarket proposal in tiny Riddells Creek, GRR took it to the Supreme Court.  AND WON.   The Supreme Court's decision reverses VCAT's determination, and reinstates appeal rights for objectors.  Click here for the Supreme Court's decision.


MRRA Says:

Another local Macedon Ranges' community group, another round of congratulations (see also Hanging Rock "Saved" story).


There has always been something terribly wrong with the Riddells Creek supermarket proposal, from its inception, to Council's under-the-carpet, split-vote approval, to the CEO's refusal to accept a rescission motion, to VCAT's odd determination and consequent exclusion of objectors.   The same interests are behind the supermarket proposal as were behind the still mainly empty AAMI Call Centre in Gisborne.


Now at least objectors will get to lay the manifold flaws of the supermarket proposal before what everyone hopes is a professional, objective VCAT hearing, which we are betting won't be impressed with Council's typically shoddy planning standards.


GRR, take a really, really big bow!  You are heroes.  Heady stuff.


Riddells Creek Supermarket Objectors Go To Supreme Court - update to supporters from Getting Riddell Right  (17/11/13 - P)

"With the support and encouragement of GRR and the broader Riddells Creek community, objectors to the proposed development have lodged an appeal to the Supreme Court, asking that Deputy President Gibson’s decision at the “practice day hearing” on Friday September 13th be set aside.   Legal advice indicates that we have a strong case.  We expect to win, which means that we will be back at VCAT sometime early next year, to outline the many ways in which the proposed development fails to comply with local planning laws, and asking the Tribunal not to issue a permit.   We want to emphasize that we are not opposed to commercial development on this site.  We simply say that such development should comply with planning policy, designed to protect our village character and amenity.  In addition to the matters to be raised at VCAT, there are a number of other problems that may become the subject of separate legal proceedings and/or may be referred to the appropriate authorities.  We are currently seeking advice on these matters.  This development will stand as the centrepiece of our town for the next 50-100 years.  We want to get it right for now and for the future."


 Riddells Creek Supermarket:  'Getting Riddell Right' Becomes Getting Riddell Right Inc - Now An Incorporated Association

(23/4/13-RA-P)  Great stuff - community spirit everywhere and fundraising is underway as the vast Riddells Creek supermarket/shops development goes to VCAT 


'Getting Riddell Right Inc' is official.  At a public meeting held in Riddells Creek last Wednesday, the community came together to become members, fill committee spaces, make suggestions, get organised and get the fund-raising ball rolling.  The group's aim is to raise around $10,000 as a fighting fund for the VCAT case.  If you can help, or just want know more, click here for contact, email and website details.


MRRA Says:

Well done, and what enthusiasm!!  There's something so empowering for everyone when a community comes together with such passion and purpose.  Our contacts are also full of praise for Deb Dunn, who is helping GRR with the VCAT case. 


The supermarket proposal itself is enormous - more a 4 hectare outdoor MALL than supermarket - with a monster 2,800 square metre supermarket and 16 shops.  Just what Riddell needs - not.  If it all sounds like overkill, just remember that the person behind this extravagant proposal also gave Gisborne theAAMI Call Centre.  And what a disaster that still-almost-empty, 3 storey ugliness has been.  There's no way you can miss the towering building, but most of us are still looking for all those jobs it was going to create - you know, the hundreds of jobs that were used to justify approving it.  Anyone want to wager the same tired arguments won't be flowing for the supermarket thing? 


A quick look at the Riddells Creek supermarket proposal suggests the same tired over-development, over-riding of what the community values, and poor planning and development standards are also in play.  Yes, there will be plenty to work with at VCAT.


How, And  Why, Was The Riddells Creek Supermarket Rescission Motion Refused?

(23/4/13-RA-P)  Is Council picking and choosing process to favour some over others?  Is there even a "process" for rescission motions in Macedon Ranges anymore?

On 27 February, 2013 Macedon Ranges Council decided, on a 5 to 4 vote, to approve the very large Riddells Creek supermarket/shops proposal.  First thing the following morning, Cr. McLaughlin attempted to lodge a rescission motion, presumably with the CEO, only to be told Council's decision the previous night had already been acted on, and a rescission motion could not be entertained.  


Council's Local Law 9 (which applies to its meetings and meeting processes) sets out the process for rescission motions.


47. Notice of Rescission


47.1 A Councillor may propose a notice of rescission provided:


47.1.1 the resolution proposed to be rescinded has not been acted on; and

47.1.2 the notice of rescission is in writing signed by a Councillor, and is lodged with the Chief Executive Officer at least 24 hours prior to the day of dispatch for the relevant meeting agenda, setting out - the resolution to be rescinded; and the meeting and date when the resolution was carried.


47.2 The Chief Executive Officer or an appropriate member of Council staff is entitled to implement a resolution at any time after the close of the meeting at which it was made. A resolution will therefore be deemed to have been acted on if:


47.2.1 its contents have or substance has been formally communicated to a person whose interests are materially affected by it; or

47.2.2 a statutory process has been commenced so as to vest enforceable rights in or obligations on Council or any other person.


As Council's decision to approve the application didn't trigger commencement of a statutory process that vested rights or obligations, the basis for refusing to accept the rescission motion appears to be that its contents/substance had been formally communicated to a person whose interests are materially affected by it - apparently with the speed of light. 


MRRA Says:

How did this happen by first thing the following morning?  Who was notified?  It needed to be more than giving the permit applicant a piece of paper. The Council officer's report noted 7 objectors (or 9, depending upon which part of the report is read).  Their interests too were 'materially affected' by the decision - were they all formally notified by first thing  the next morning?   Was, as is rumoured, the Notice of Decision to Grant A Permit completed BEFORE Council met and made a decision?


The usual process for giving formal notice of (i.e. formally communicating) planning decisions made at Council meetings is posting a 'hard copy' Notice of Decision to applicants and objectors, usually received some time in the week following the Council meeting. The date that the Notice is received is taken to be the commencement of the 21 or 60 day period in which an application can be taken to VCAT. 


In this case, that type of 'formal communication' could not have been achieved by first thing the next morning.  So what form of 'formal communication' occurred? Or did it?


This matter also raises another issue: where does this leave the Shire in regard to any future rescission motions, on any issue?  Are they all going to be formally communicated in the same 'speed-of-light' timeframe, because if they are, is there any point having a Local Law that says rescission motions can be made? 


Indeed, with this application, has Council's administration unofficially rewritten the current Local Law, or was this just a 'one-off' of what could be seen as obstruction to stop Councillors having another vote on this particular application?   Either way, after this a prudent Councillor will have a ready-to-go rescission motion with them at Council meetings, to ensure there is no future denial of the ability, provided for in the current Local Law, to revisit Council decisions.  But, hey, it shouldn't be this hard to have that Local Law operate as it is intended to operate.


Council Approves Draft Riddells Creek Structure Plan To Go On Exhibition - Watch For It

(23/4/13-RA-P)  It's a plan for the next 30 years, and feedback on it from Riddell residents is essential 

Lucky Riddells Creek - it has the services of Parsons Brinckerhoff (with Trevor Budge as consultant) on this Structure Plan.  What Riddells Creek residents must ensure is that this is the plan they want for the town.  It puts forward discussion about and options for how growth will be accommodated, as well as a neighbourhood character assessment that will be used to create guidelines to ensure future development adds to rather than detracts from the town's character.  A copy of the draft Plan was included in the agenda attachments for the 27th March Council meeting at Romsey, available from the meetings section of Council's website (but be quick, it might disappear tomorrow!). 


MRRA Says:

Council has agreed to move the Structure Plan forward to exhibition, and although that doesn't seem to have happened yet, look for it in coming weeks. 


One thing we strongly recommend the Riddells Creek community be on guard against is having the Structure Plan hijacked by the supermarket (or any other development) proposal, or by Council.  The Plan really does need to be about the town and its environment, and what the community - not individual or vested interests - want.  Go for it...







NEW  Coles Takes Woodend Petrol Station Refusal To VCAT

( 10/8/15 - P)  Details sketchy, but anticipate some form of action needed in September 

After waiting two months since Macedon Ranges Council refused its application for a very awkward, very ugly petrol station next to the railway station in Woodend, Coles Express has lodged an appeal at VCAT.  No further information is currently available.  Although Council has apparently been given notice of the appeal, it appears Woodend residents that objected to the proposal have not yet been given notice.   The latest is that objectors should receive notice by 12th August, and possibly a preliminary hearing at VCAT on 28th August.   See Petrol Station file


Coles "Consults" Woodend About New Petrol Station and Convenience Store On Narrow Steep Land At Town Entry

(13/7/14 - P)   Oh dear - couple this squeezy with the squeezy supermarket, and what a mess Coles is making of Woodend's railway precinct and town entry  Red Alerts

Coles will be holding an information session next Wednesday the 16th July from 6 pm-8 pm upstairs at the Victoria Hotel in Woodend to discuss their proposed new service station and convenience store just over the railway bridge, on the site of the old Woodend Automotive.  All invited.  The Planning Application No. is Correction:  PLN/2013/319  PLN/2013379 and the SPEAR Reference No. is S041231P. 

MRRA Says:


Here's how the locals think it will look - not quite the same as the old stationmaster's house that's there now, is it?   The mystery is how Coles propose to get a flat level surface for their petrol station, and whether the getting of it and their proposal destroys the community stairs, cypresses and sitting area - you know, the beautification done as part of the "Creative Village" project in the 1990s.  And whether ANY of the beautiful, mature, if not rare trees are intended to be sacrificed for a petrol station most of the town probably doesn't want.





Woodend Supermarket Decision Deferred

(15/7/10 - P)  There are plenty of issues.  Is anyone thinking square peg in round hole?

At last night's council planning committee meeting it was decided on a split vote to defer a decision on the Woodend supermarket proposal at the railway station.  One of the big issues is the already deficient Urquhart Street / High Street intersection which, if the supermarket is approved, will have to cope with even more traffic.  A decision is apparently expected at the Council meeting in two weeks time.


MRRA Says:

We've been told Cr. Neil Manning, who has been trying to get improvements to the proposal and have issues addressed, copped an earful in chamber from Cr. Henryka Benson about delaying things, to the extent she received a rebuke from the Mayor.


Odd, we were under the impression that Cr. Benson, who takes a highly visible role in promoting all things Kyneton, also represents Woodend residents.  It's surprising that she doesn't seem to be behind Cr. Manning's attempts to get the best possible outcome for Woodend.


We would also ask, is it wise to accept VicRoads' view that there isn't a problem at Urquhart St, especially after the clanger VicRoads has created with Black Forest Drive?


Squeezy, Destructive Safeway Supermarket Takes Over Woodend Railway Area, Wreckers' Ball On Way

(24/11/08 - P)   The Safeway application: a fairly perfect example of (bad) development that takes away more than it gives. A whole precinct of the town's rural character will be lost if this proposal goes ahead...


Information and plans for the long-trumpeted Safeway Supermarket proposal are now available from Council's Greenlight program (or at least some of them seem to be available).


At this stage, the old house on the highway does not appear to figure in these plans, although it was earlier proposed to build a new petrol station and road on that site.  Similarly, these current plans appear to be solely for a supermarket despite some expectations there may also have been additional shops.  There isn't room for anything more.


The plans show an almost complete takeover of the northern railway surrounds by this development - including the station parking spaces - and also destruction of existing features. Parts of the existing road are taken over for parking, with new parking areas also in the divider with the highway which appear to get into the root zone of existing mature trees.  The existing 'parking island' is demolished as is most of the existing landscaping, the existing 'park' next to the insectarium, the Insectarium and its landscaping, and the Produce Store. 


Existing wide road surfaces and parking spaces are replaced with suburban style minimum widths (a la Coles in Gisborne it seems), and it also seems that the only footpath access between Urquhart St and the railway station runs through the supermarket's entry, forcing pedestrians to choose a complex (commercialized?) detour, or walk on what's left of the road amid increased traffic.   The current entry vista of an historic, spacious, treed precinct will be replaced by a vista of bitumen and cars.


From the plans, which are marked 'preliminary', the supermarket itself is a 1.5 storey structure with plant on the roof taking it overall to a height of around 2 storeys in part.  The problem is of course, all of the plant will be completely visible from the old highway, which is significantly higher than the supermarket site.  A profusion of aluminium louvre wall panels, which in one view seem to extend above the roofline, are proposed. 


The colour scheme seems to be a kaleidoscope of alternate chocolate brown and pale apricot panels, crossed by a darker apricot horizontal line, intermingled with light and dark aqua panels and windows amid the profusion of aluminium louvre panels.  The overall effect could be seen as a striped supermarket!  The design has no discernable rural character and seems a poor and suburban response to the town's over-arching historic character and the heritage values of the railway precinct.  Some 4 illuminated Safeway signs are proposed on the building apparently to make sure no-one misses it, plus a tall pylon sign on High Street.


The concrete pad in front of what used to be the produce store gains a small island at its tip where it joins Urquhart St and the pad itself is identified as restricted to truck access only, although how this will be policed is not clear.  Trucks accessing the supermarket will need to cut through traffic travelling to or from or waiting at Urquhart Street.  On site, trucks will have to manoeuvre into a  loading dock at the rear of the supermarket that is 90 degrees to the access lane , without any obvious room for larger trucks to turn around and exit the site in a forwards motion.  Perhaps trucks will need to reverse into the supermarket, in which case they would likely cause a major obstruction to traffic flows on the narrowed road to the station.  Residents may remember that truck deliveries to the Coles supermarket were supposed to be made using only one access/egress point which it was said would work on paper, except it didn't work in practice and there are now two. 


A new Ambulance Station is proposed behind the Video Shop on Urquhart Street, adding another emergency service needing unfettered access and egress at Urquhart Street.  It is difficult to see how this will work with the additional traffic in that area the supermarket would generate, and the additional obstruction of a pedestrian crossing running across Urquhart St from the Vic Hotel to the front of the video shop.


With all car spaces being grabbed by the supermarket, there is no obvious scope for further expansion of railway parking facilities, which should leave people questioning who said the railway area (public land) could become a de facto element of the proposal, to be cut and pasted to suit the supermarket's interests rather than the public interest.  It's a fact of life that of public transport patronage is rapidly growing - with the supermarket claiming the railway car spaces as its own and not much potential for more parking spaces, does this mean Woodend residents will miss out on being able to use train services in future?


The Woodend Urban Design Framework recognised the need to improve pedestrian access both to the railway and along High St, and to make safety, landscaping and functional improvements to the Urquhart and High Street intersection.  No regard seems to have been had to the approved Woodend Urban Design Framework plan.  The whole proposal seems to be about what's good for the development, not what's good for Woodend. 


Click here to see a comparison of plans showing what's at the railway precinct now, and what will be there with this Safeway.  Click here to see photos indicating what's demolished.  See also C47


MRRA Says:


Safeway the fresh food people. We can only wish Safeway took as much notice of the damage its facilities do to the towns they go in as it does to its food.  Some residents want this supermarket because they think they will get cheaper groceries.  The whole town and the next generation will pay for it in so many other ways.  Is it really worth it?


Minister for Planning Approves Amendment C47, Opens The Door For  Supermarket and Petrol Station  At Woodend Railway Station

(13/6/08 - P)  Not all of the amendment was approved, but enough to see the old CFA building, and former railway goods sheds (the produce store and insectarium) now facing demolition - there aren't any heritage overlays on the land that has been rezoned, or the CFA and former goods sheds.

The contentious Amendment C47 has been approved in part by the Minister for Planning, Justin Madden.  An independent panel recommended two key elements of the amendment NOT be approved because they lacked a strategic basis for rezoning.  These were a small parcel of land on the High Street (next to the railway line) and the (light) industrial area near Anslow, Urquhart and Bowen Streets.  The C47 Amendment proposed rezoning the land in High Street to a Business 1 zone, and the industrial area to Mixed Use.  Neither rezonings were supported by the independent panel, but a majority of Macedon Ranges' Councillors overturned the panel's recommendation.  The Minister has taken the middle ground - approving the business rezone, but not the Mixed Use.


MRRA Says:

Considering Woodend hasn't had a strategic study done for the town for 34 years, it's disappointing to see more ad hoc rezoning occur, no doubt soon to be followed by some more ad hoc development.   Although these days, looking at the sardine-like crush of cars wall-to-wall at the railway station, filling the surrounding roads and gardens, and even parked along the railway line, it's a real head-scratcher to imagine how a supermarket and petrol station application can be jammed in, especially when it is apparently intended to count those chockered (non-existent) railway car spaces as parking spaces for the supermarket!


C47, The 'Dog's Breakfast' Amendment:  Planning In Macedon Ranges Shire Disintegrates As Council Defies Panel's "No" To Get Woodend Rezoning For Developers

(31/3/07 - P) Last Wednesday's Council meeting confirms this Council will do "whatever it takes" to get developers what they want. Community, rules and process can just sod off.

It wasn't a large gallery at last Wednesday's (28th) Council meeting in Gisborne, but all of those who weren't developers spoke with one voice.  They were disgusted with the performance put on by the majority of our Councillors, and with their decision-making prowess, as they somehow decided they knew best and voted to ignore an independent Planning Panel's recommendations to abandon two rezonings in Woodend.  The Panel has said Council hasn't done the strategic work to justify the rezonings.  Five Councillors apparently either disagreed, didn't care, or didn't know what strategic work is.


Standing orders were suspended and a range of people, including Chief Executive Ian Morris, made some blunt, some might say offensive, statements about Planning Panels and their ability or otherwise to get it right or to be objective.


Gisborne policeman Cr. Geoff Neil (East ward), perhaps not unexpectedly after recent Chamber performances, led the charge to overturn Council's March 14th decision to accept all of the Amendment C47 Planning Panel’s recommendations, instead putting forward his own alternative motion to not accept the Panel's findings to abandon two rezonings in Woodend.  He found a willing ally in Cr. John Letchford (South) who seconded Cr. Neil's series of three motions that picked over the Panel's recommendations. Crs. Neil and Letchford were staunchly supported by two "Woodend" (West ward) Councillors, John Connor and Deputy Mayor Noel Harvey, and by the Mayor Cr. Helen Relph (South). 


The night's work of these five Councillors resulted in Council deciding to go ahead with two ad hoc rezonings in Woodend.  The first rezoning puts a new Business zone on a small parcel of land (and at least one public accessway) fronting High Street near the railway station.  The owner/developer has said publicly that he wants to put a petrol station and a road on the steep land next to the railway bridge at the town's southern gateway. The second rezoning relates to an entire block of industrial land in Urquhart St.  Council has now arbitrarily (and rather sloppily) rezoned the land to a Mixed Use zone (a zone never before used in the Macedon Ranges Planning Scheme), which will create new opportunities for residential and commercial development near to Five Mile Creek. 


Cr. Neil closed the debate on the Business zone motion with the words "Councillors, let reality steer your course in this area, not fiction."  From where MRRA was sitting, Councillors Henry Bleeck and Sandra McGregor (East ward), Tom Gyorffy (West ward) and Rob Guthrie (South ) seemed to take Cr. Neil's advice on board and opposed both motions to rezone, but were defeated by those who supported the rezonings. 


The joke was, only minutes before approving the rezonings, Council had supported a motion put forward by Cr. Tom Gyorffy, seconded by Cr. Rob Guthrie and backed by Crs. Sandra McGregor (East), Henry Bleeck (East) and Mayor Helen Relph (South), to undertake community consultation in Woodend about whether the community wanted Council to purchase the piece of land near the railway station for a community park or other public use.  Then, at the next agenda item, Council rezoned the same land to a Business zone, putting it out of the community's reach and making a farce of any community consultation proposals.  The Mayor, Helen Relph, voted both ways: to consult, and to rezone.  See also 28/3/07 item on C47.


MRRA Says: 


It has been 30 years since the people of Woodend were last asked what they think and what they want for the town’s future. 


From comments made on Wednesday night, it seems Council is considering finally undertaking a formal process to produce a Town Plan for Woodend, to start within the next year, if funding is included in this year’s budget.  The C47 Panel has said the rezonings (now approved by Council) shouldn’t go ahead before that Town Plan is produced.


The Woodend community needs to pay attention because this Council appears to be handing to town over to developers, without a community-endorsed plan in place, and in this instance, in defiance of expert planning advice that Council’s amendments to the planning scheme in Amendment C47 are premature, not appropriate and should be abandoned.    


The decisions Council so arbitrarily made on Wednesday have potential to have long-term impacts on Woodend’s amenity and economy.  At the very least, they will tend to lock the town into positions that may be found to be detrimental when finally assessed through a strategic process. 


Last Wednesday's Council decision brings to a head a raft of recent, serious Council planning blunders, and confirms MRRA's fears that the Council elected in 2005, with few exceptions, would take the Shire backwards.  MRRA believes it is doing more than that.


As of last Wednesday, Macedon Ranges has now entered the uncharted and very murky waters of having a Council that seems to think it can sweep aside Panel recommendations that get in the way of clearing the path for whatever ad hoc development proposals some Councillors might think are 'good ideas'.


Think about it, particularly with ad hoc amendments looming for the Braemar and 1,000 residential lot proposals on Golf Course Hill, where the current zones are Farming and Rural Conservation which need to be changed before either proposal can go ahead.


If a Council thinks it can change zones at the drop of a hat (or the request of developers), and we've seen some ripper examples of where this Council has thought exactly that (e.g. the C52 Macedon House amendment), the whole Shire is at risk of being overrun by Councillors' personal preferences.  More than that, as we've already seen, that approach effectively shuts proper and orderly planning, and broad community interests, out of decision-making processes.


Not much to look forward to, is it...


As MRRA Predicted, C47 Proves To Be A "Dog's Breakfast" Amendment As Independent Panel Recommends Most Rezonings Be Abandoned Because There's No Strategic Justification For Them

(28/3/07 - P)  Council agrees to Panel's recommendations on 14th March, but rumour has it some will attempt to reverse that decision on March 28 to get major development moving:  will five Councillors do 'whatever it takes' to get these rejected proposals up?  Is C47 set to become Woodend's version of the 'development at any cost' Gisborne Call Centre fiasco?


At tonight's Council meeting in Gisborne, tensions will be high as Council decides whether it will uphold its Planning Committee's decision to go with an Independent Planning Panel's recommendation to abandon several changes, including 'spot' rezonings, proposed in Amendment C47.  Cr. Geoff Neil was particularly enthusiastic at the 14th March Planning Committee meeting to arbitrarily overturn the Panel's recommendations to abandon two rezonings in Woodend, these being conversion of an industrial zone to a Mixed Use zone in Urquhart St. (near Five Mile Creek), and the rezoning of a small piece of land on the embankment in the median strip between the old Highway and the railway station (at the railway bridge) from Public Use to a Business 1 zone. 


The Mixed Use proposal has now twice been rejected by a Panel and the landholder who requested the rezoning in 2005 no longer owns the land, which is (along with other land in the same area) believed to now be in the ownership of a local businessman. 


The small piece of land near the railway station, which currently has a former railway house on it (one storey at the front, two storeys at the back), was last used by an auto electrician but has been empty for some time.  The current owner told Council last week he had been in discussions with Council for a year and he intends to put a petrol station and a road (1 in 16 grade) on the site.  This of course would necessitate demolishing the existing building, possibly some of the exotic trees for which the area is noted, and also the public pedestrian stairway access that links High Street with the railway station.  But first the land needs to be rezoned, and the Panel has said that's not what should happen at this time.


MRRA Says:


This amendment has been a mess since its inception in April 2005.  Most of the proposed changes (rezonings) came from individuals wanting their own land rezoned to suit their own purposes.  The Council officer's 2005 report stated most were 'technical changes'.  It's hard to see how introducing a totally new zone into a planning scheme constitutes a technical change.


Then in April 2006 former Planning Minister, Rob Hulls, somehow approved the amendment being put on public exhibition.  The Panel's 2007 recommendations to abandon most of the rezonings is, as predicted by MRRA, an embarrassment for the Planning Minister and once again raises questions about standards of quality control within the Department of Sustainability and Environment.


If Council tonight goes down the path of defying the independent Panel's recommendations, it will be yet another example in a long line of examples of a Council where the majority of Councillors are prepared to step well outside the acceptable and required principles for decision-making on planning issues.  MRRA will then consider turning turn to the new Planning Minister, Justin Madden, with a request for Council's planning decisions to be investigated.


Declaration:  Woodend resident and MRRA secretary Christine Pruneau was an objector to this amendment and attended the Independent Panel hearing.


Council Almost Goes With Illegal Move On Amendments C47 and C49

(23/7/06 - P) Claims that Department of Sustainability and Environment agreed to recommendations not allowed by Act

At the 12 July Council Planning Committee meeting, Macedon Ranges Council had before it recommendations to send elements of these planning scheme amendments to the Minister for Planning for approval, despite there being submissions objecting to and calling for changes to the amendments.  Under the Planning and Environment Act, a Council has only three options for dealing with submissions asking for changes to an amendment: it can make the requested change, it can abandon the amendment or it can send the amendment to an independent Panel.  The recommendations before Council represented a fourth option: ignore submissions (and the Act).  Someone seems to have confused an amendment process with a planning permit process, and recommendations to forward parts of the amendments to the Minister seemed to have been based on an assumption that there wasn't a lot of opposition, so just approve it (which perhaps gives an insight into how Council views objections to development proposals). 


On the night, the Council planning officer present seemed to verbally advise Council that the Department of Sustainability and Environment [DSE] originally supported the 'to the Minister' recommendations but now did not support doing that.  Only two Councillors spoke on C49:  Cr. Rob Guthrie (South ward) read section 23 of the Planning and Environment Act to his fellow councillors, and advised that the recommendation before Council was illegal.  He then moved (seconded Cr. Tom Gyorffy (West)) that the amendment be sent to an independent panel (carried unopposed).  Cr. Noel Harvey (West) advised near the end of the C49 agenda item he had just noticed that Parks Victoria submitted to the amendment and he may have an interest in the matter as he had recently been appointed to the Parks Victoria Board.  The only change in how Council dealt with C47 was that Cr. John Letchford (South) seconded the motion to also move that amendment to a Panel.


Note: The C47 amendment proposes various changes, several initiated by individuals looking for site specific rezoning to support future development proposals (including introduction of the Mixed Use zone into the Macedon Ranges planning scheme), while the C49 amendment would rezone a business zone in Riddells Creek to a residential zone to support a residential subdivision proposal.  There were some 33 submissions to C49, and 12 to C47.


MRRA Says:

It would be a matter of immense concern if DSE had in fact condoned such a deviation from the Planning and Environment Act's requirements, as represented by the recommendations before Council for these amendments.  It is also of concern that submissions seem to have been misplaced by Council (two were 'found' on the night), that not all submitters seem to have been told about meetings or about the amendments coming before Council, and that no-one from the community addressed Council on agenda items as usually happens at these Planning Committee meetings (the Mayor advised the meeting he did not have a list of speakers).  But the greatest concern of all is that one way or another, poor processes and breaching the Act almost got through the approvals system.  That's not an acceptable situation.


Embarrassment As Minister Hulls Approves Exhibition of "Abandoned" Amendments C47 and C49

(5/4/06 - P)  Latest in a series of Department of Sustainability and Environment blunders disadvantages Macedon Ranges yet again!  Isn't it time for an inquiry into departmental operations?

DSE's done it again.  In yet another blunder that disadvantages Macedon Ranges, an absence of quality control at DSE has seen the Minister for Planning, Rob Hulls, approve exhibition of Amendments C47 and C49.  Both of these amendments claim they are justified because the changes they propose were included in Amendment C8: the disastrous - and abandoned - amendment that tried to put the Residential and Industrial Land Review into Macedon Ranges planning scheme.  Obviously DSE either didn't read, or ignored, the report of the Ministerial Advisory Committee (appointed by then Planning Minister Mary Delahunty) which said:


"After considering the amendment against the Terms of Reference and Strategic Assessment Guidelines, the Committee concluded that the proposals contained in the amendment should not proceed" and that "strategic justification is inadequate". 


The Committee recommended "That Amendment C8, a variation of it, or any individual element of it, should not be included in the Macedon Ranges Planning Scheme..."


MRRA Says:

So how come parts of this failed amendment are now being 'recycled' as Amendments C47 and C49?  And why are Macedon Ranges' ratepayers having to waste time, energy and money on amendments that can't and won't be approved just because the Department can't get its act together?


Is Supermarket Proposal Set To Demolish Woodend’s Railway Precinct?

(8/7/05 – P) Reports of impending supermarket and petrol station application strengthen

Locals in Woodend continue to report developer interest in the area between Urquhart Street and the railway station as a future site for a Safeway(?) supermarket and petrol outlet.  Accommodating any such proposal would likely entail demolishing the Insectarium, Produce Store, old CFA building, and possibly the auto repair shop on the old highway.  If this were to occur it would remove a significant part of Woodend’s heritage and character and destroy the unique ambience and appearance of Woodend’s railway precinct.


MRRA Says:

MRRA will adopt a watching brief on this issue.  If an application does eventuate, will Melbourne 2030 be used to justify it?  Will Woodend’s country railway station (like New Gisborne and Riddells Creek) overnight become a metropolitan-style ‘ACTIVITY CENTRE’?  Does the State government understand how much damage inappropriate application of Melbourne 2030’s ‘urban’ standards is causing in rural areas?  Will it ever act to stop the ‘metro’ elements of Melbourne 2030 being applied outside the metro area?


Amendment C47:  ‘You want it?  You got it…’

(22/4/05) Council supports another grab-bag of ad hoc applications for amendments to Macedon Ranges Planning Scheme.

The latest in a rolling series of ad hoc applications for amendments to be supported by Council is the debacle of Amendment C47.   The officer’s report on Amendment C47 (misidentified as C46 in the Council agenda) describes the amendment as ‘generally technical changes’.  It seems one of those ‘technical changes’ is to introduce a Mixed Use zone into Macedon Ranges’ planning scheme (we haven’t had one before) and apply it to land in Woodend township.  Another is to rezone 10 or so hectares of rural zoned land in North Woodend to Industrial 1 zoning.


MRRA Says:

Council, these are not ‘technical changes’, these are major changes in strategic direction, without strategic justification.  Council also claims these changes are supported in the Residential and Industrial Land Review 2000 and that the Review, as Amendment C8, was abandoned due to PROCEDURAL FLAWS.   Not so.


Can someone at Council please read the C8 Amendment’s Panel Report because the C8 amendment actually fell over because IT WASN’T STRATEGIC.   And then can someone read the Planning and Environment Act where it says Council CAN refuse to support an application for an ad hoc amendment to the planning scheme?   And then can someone have a think about where these ad hoc amendments sit in the context of proper and orderly planning?   Most of our Councillors may not understand planning but surely our planning officers do, don’t they?