Archive:  Macedon / Mt. Macedon Town Plans

Last Updated  23/12/16

 

See also Amendment C114 (Macedon) and C115 Mount Macedon archive

 

 

NEW  Action Required   Amendments C114 (Macedon) and C115 (Mount Macedon).  These are Implementing "Design Guidelines" To Protect Character??   Not on your nelly! 

(23/12/16 - P)  How does this sound:  zero front setbacks, two storey development, no preferred character, planning requirements able to be waived by council, street trees a minor consideration - in both towns.  And this: a Special Use Zone at Mount Macedon allowing McDonalds, and 'pole signs', with "small scale" development deleted. That's what you are getting with C114 and C115.   Submissions close 30 January, 2017.

 

Amendment C114 at Macedon includes a draft Design and Development overlay (DDO26), and changes to the Macedon Township Policy at Clause 21.13-6.

 

Amendment C115 at Mount Macedon includes a draft Special Use Zone schedule (SUZ6), and changes to the Mount Macedon Township Policy - and Framework Plan - at Clause 21.13-7.

 

Amendment information is available from Council's website although, as has happened before, some is missing: neither of the towns' Village Centre Studies or Design Guidelines documents, which underpin the amendments, are with the amendment documentation.

http://www.mrsc.vic.gov.au/Planning_Building/Planning_for_Our_Future/Town-Based_Projects/Macedon_and_Mount_Macedon

 

MRRA Says:

 

As a principle, enshrining strong development and design standards in the planning scheme, to preserve and protect character, has merit.   Alas, that's not quite what these amendments are doing.

 

A project of the previous council, the C114 (Macedon) and C115 (Mount Macedon) planning scheme amendments have their genesis in Village Centre studies adopted for both towns in late 2014.  The amendments are claimed to be putting the Design Guidelines that derive from those studies into the planning scheme.  Well, that's the theory, at least. 

 

The previous council wasn't going to exhibit any Design Guidelines - officers' recommendations for both towns were to just leap from adoption of Village Centre studies straight to amendments that would put unseen Design Guidelines into the planning scheme without further consulting council or community.  The big surprise came in late 2015 when a majority of the previous council voted against doing this for Mount Macedon.  As a result, draft Design Guidelines for both towns, along with a very incomplete draft Special Use Zone for Mount Macedon, were put out for community comment last May. 

 

Problems with the exhibited Design Guidelines included excessive use of "should".  Problems with the exhibited 'half' of a Special Use Zone schedule were obvious:  it allowed currently prohibited uses, and most of the zone schedule's provisions and requirements were missing.  Something that zone schedule did include were statements authorising council to reduce or waive planning permit application requirements for everything except signs.

 

In September 2016, the previous council voted to prepare planning amendments to put the Design Guidelines into the scheme, via a Design and Development Overlay at Macedon and a Special Use Zone schedule at Mount Macedon.  As was that council's habit, it gave council officers authority to make changes, without further consultation or council endorsement, prior to exhibiting the C114 and C115 amendments.   The Design Guidelines and zone schedule were then whisked off into council's back room to be translated into the amendments currently on exhibition, which have emerged with at times unrelated and unrecognisable content.  Yes, a lot of the former "should" language is gone, particularly at Macedon, but not all.  Some of the original "musts" have been wound back, replaced with new "should", "minimise" or "discourage" language.  Shifts in emphasis and issues being addressed dilute requirements for development, and too many of the original Design Guidelines are omitted and just aren't there at all in the amendments.

 

Yet council's official line remains the same, continuing to misrepresent these altered and weakened amendments as being good for Macedon and Mount Macedon.  However, as with other recent amendments (for example, Structure Plans at Riddells Creek and Kyneton),  the previous council's habit of watering down or deleting anything that put standards or the environment first, and of fudging policy to be less onerous and more 'flexible' for development/developers, is indelible.  Some of the changes made to the Design Guidelines in their translation into the C114 Design and Development Overlay and the C115 Special Use Zone certainly seem to favour potentially largish pub expansion at Mount Macedon, and diluted development standards for 19 Victoria Street, Macedon. 

 

These amendments are not delivering the protective planning that most of the community wants, and is being told it is getting.  MRRA can't see how, in their current form, these amendments are 'good' for either town.  Here are some of the issues with the amendments MRRA has detected to date:

 

C115 Mount Macedon:

titles-rezoned-c115

 

map-1-c115

 

C114 Macedon:

The consequences of these amendments won't only impact local communities.  Does anyone really want a Maccas-style development at Mount Macedon?  Or large apartment-style development at Macedon?  Or street trees removed to accommodate (over-) development?

 

Everyone can help by putting in submissions by 30 January, objecting to Amendments C114 and C115.  This is a formal planning scheme amendment process, so clearly mark your submission with the amendment number (C114 Macedon, C115 Mount Macedon), objecting to the amendments as they have been exhibited, and requesting that neither be progressed.   The new Macedon Ranges council has the option of abandoning all or part of the amendments, or of reviewing, rewriting and re-exhibiting them. 

 

Minimum objectives for any rewriting would be to replace the favours, 'flexibility' and weaknesses in C114 and C115 with strong, unambiguous standards, 'starting points' and requirements (with no waivers), that prioritise and are genuinely sympathetic to protection of character and environment, and result in limited, small scale, low key, high quality development.   Nothing less will do in these extremely sensitive towns.  

 

 

 

Council Strikes At The Heart Of The Ranges With Its Latest Hare-Brained "Economic" Plans For Macedon and Mount Macedon

(15/9/16 - P)  Keep it "small scale" at Mount Macedon?  Deleted before the council meeting. Then our esteemed Councillor majority authorised officers to make more (unseen and unknown) changes before rolling out planning scheme amendments for these two settlements  Macedon/Mount Macedon File 

No surprises at the August 24 Council meeting when the 'black hats' at Council (only Anderson and Mowatt opposed; McLaughlin was absent) endorsed starting yet another two planning scheme amendments (bringing the total amendments in the past year to 11), this time under the guise of "improving" Macedon and Mount Macedon with "Design Guidelines", and rezoning from Rural Conservation to Special Use Zone at Mount Macedon (Agenda Items PE7 and PE8).

 

With its usual disdain of accountability and transparency, the resolution approved by Councillors (as above) empowered officers to make changes without community consultation or bringing changes back to Council for approval, before sending the new Macedon and Mount Macedon amendments to the Minister for Planning for authorisation to exhibit them.  Here's what those Councillors approved:

“To encourage the use and development of the Mt. Macedon Village Centre for a range of tourist, and local small scale community, tourist community and retail uses that respect the character of the surrounding village and natural environment.”

MRRA Says: 

 

No care!  No responsibility!  This Council couldn't help itself from binding the next Council to new amendment processes, just before the Council election 'caretaker' period kicked in.  It has become an established Council process to regularly authorise officers to make changes - sight unseen - once Council has rubber-stamped a resolution adopting/approving a document.  The community doesn't know what it's going to get until it gets it, and over time the 'unseen' changes made after Council has passed a resolution have proven to not be small or unimportant.  Begs the question - who is setting policy?  Under the Local Government Act, it's supposed to be Councillors (er, you know, democratic representation of the community's interests, and all that).

Remember, this is the Council that, in its submission to the Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee, said it didn't know what "protection" meant but in any event already had enough of it (in the planning scheme it has fashioned).  And surprise, surprise -  a group of developers' consultants, the list of which included a planner who recently worked for Council, told the Advisory Committee it heartily endorsed that sentiment.

 

The Association has written to the Minister for Planning (copy to Mary-Anne Thomas) pointing out that Council's approval of the amendments pre-empts the upcoming Council election and approval to exhibit the amendments at this time pre-empts any decisions a new Council might make, and also pre-empts protection measures the State government may shortly introduce.  All amendments need to be measured against that protection.  Here's the response we received from the Minister's office.

 

 

Macedon and Mount Macedon Development Design Guidelines Out For Community Comment Until Sunday 5th June

(24/5/16 - P)  Spoiler alert!  Mt. Macedon "commercial" area is expanded, and you are going to have to love the word "should" to think these guidelines mean (or do) anything good at all.  You can help stop this and other Council economics and development madnesses - see "community action required" below. 

Urban Design Guidelines are on exhibition for Mount Macedon and Macedon townships.  These follow on from Village Centre Studies produced by Council in 2014.  Both Studies address economic/tourist development and business, as is the usual priority with the current Council.  

 

Both towns have "extreme bushfire risk", but the Studies assume bushfire risk for new development can be managed by Bushfire Management Overlay requirements, on an individual site / application basis.  This conflicts with the 2009 Bushfire Royal Commission's recommendation (and State planning policy) to avoid putting people in extreme bushfire risk areas.  Consideration and understanding of broader landscape bushfire risks such as the dangers of the wider vegetated environment, proximity to public land and potential for a catastrophic well-fuelled fire that starts somewhere else, as did the Ash Wednesday fires, is not evident.

 

The design guidelines only set standards about how new development occurs, not whether it occurs in the first place.  The theory is that the guidelines will prevent development turning out to be as suburban and damaging as it does everywhere else, and specifically currently prohibited uses to be allowed in the new Special Use Zone that Council is proposing to replace the Rural Conservation Zone at Mt. Macedon.

 

One of the guidelines' outstanding flaws (for both townships) is their flexibility.  The word "should" dominates: "should be setback...", "should be used...", "should incorporate...". This preference for "should" fits the pattern also recently seen in new design controls proposed for Kyneton, Woodend and Riddells Creek in each town's Structure Plan amendment, where Structure Plan language like "protect" and "require" had been changed to "should" to provide, as Council explained, more flexibility.  From experience, this means the guidelines will be useless in terms of guaranteeing superior development outcomes because they don't set standards that must be met - almost anything can be approved, including what an applicant wants. 

 

The area for new commercial development at Mt. Macedon (shown in red below) is now bigger than the adopted Village Centre Study "commercial area" (shown as a dashed blue line below).  This expands potential for commercial development all the way to Willimigongong Creek (Mt. Macedon pub land east of Mt. Macedon Road), and to Turritable Creek (land west of Mt. Macedon Road).  It's not yet known how much land the proposed Special Use Zone at Mt. Macedon will apply to, but as you can't have two zones on one piece of land, the zone is likely to at least correspond with the red coloured areas below.

 

 

mm-commercial-core

 

 

The proposed, but incomplete, Mt. Macedon Special Use Zone's draft zone schedule 6 is also on exhibition.   Notably it has:

Design and Development overlays incorporating the currently exhibited "should" design guidelines are to be produced for each township but what these say won't be known until they are exhibited as part of a later planning scheme amendment (they weren't exhibited with the guidelines).  Worth watching, because Council again appears to only be applying design overlays for commercial use, as it also did in recent Structure Plan amendments, even when those Structure Plans said include residential areas in the overlays as well (Council thought that would be too confusing). 

 

The Mt. Macedon Special Use Zone has been prepared to replace the current Rural Conservation Zone and existing prohibitions for a variety of tourist and business uses.  See our Comparison of land uses in Rural Conservation and Mt. Macedon Special Use Zones   Land use changes proposed for Mt. Macedon heavily favour retail and tourism - particularly food and drink premises, shops, places of assembly and offices - that are not permitted under the existing Rural Conservation Zone. 

 

These uses, and the proposed Special Use Zone, are a direct response to the Macedon Ranges Tourism Industry Strategic Plan 2011.   This single-focus document says of MOUNT MACEDON / MACEDON (page 19):  "At present, there are few accommodation establishments in Mount Macedon. The location lends itself to a high quality boutique hotel / resort of 4.5 - 5 star standard.  It is envisaged that such a resort would be a destination in itself. There may be opportunity to collocate a day spa component with such a facility. Further development of complementary tourism product at Mount Macedon is also needed including boutique retail and food and beverage opportunities." 

 

This Strategic Plan goes on to say at "Barriers to Investment" (page 30) : "The Farming Zone and Rural Conservation Zone are too restrictive in terms of the types of tourism uses that have been identified as “gaps” in the Macedon Ranges Shire."  and "For larger tourism developments which have specific masterplans in place, a Special Use Zone or Comprehensive Development Zone may be considered"    Mt. Macedon, of course, does not have a masterplan in place, it has a more vague and undefined Village Centre Study.

 

The upshot of the Strategic Plan is that Council has adopted a strategy that promotes changing the planning scheme to allow what someone wants for economic development and tourism, even if it goes against everything else in the planning scheme. Council has also adopted and is implementing other single-focus documents including its Equine and Agribusiness Strategies http://www.mrsc.vic.gov.au/Business_Economy/Industries_Strategies which, like the Tourism Strategic Plan, all conclude existing planning controls are barriers to the specific interests each strategy promotes, and need to go.  Council in turn is through a variety of amendments changing the planning scheme to allow those interests prevail over residential amenity, proper planning, and protection of heritage and the environment (Midland Express, 16 May 2016 -  http://www.elliottmidnews.com.au/story/3909972/tourists-take-over/?cs=1479).  The C110 amendment's rural living carve-up is another example, as are the Special Use Zones already proposed for Mt. Macedon,  Kyneton equine precinct, Riddells Creek town centre and (now another) for the Kyneton Airfield.  

 

One more thing - both the Macedon and Mount Macedon Village Centre Studies propose to change Clause 22.01 (Statement of Planning Policy No. 8) in the Macedon Ranges Planning Scheme, to include economics-focussed policy statements from the Macedon/Mt. Macedon Village Centre Studies.  This would be a first - the SPP8 policy hasn't been changed in 40 years and Council appears to be trying to achieve this prior to the State government's introduction of legislation to protect Macedon Ranges based on Statement of Planning Policy No. 8. 

 

COMMUNITY ACTION REQUIRED:

  1. Put in a submission to Council objecting to both the design guidelines, and at Mount Macedon, the Special Use Zone schedule 6 by 5 June.  Find out more about making a submission by going to http://www.mrsc.vic.gov.au/Planning_Building/Planning_for_Our_Future/Town-Based_Projects/Macedon_and_Mount_Macedon

  2. In addition, send an email to the Minister for Planning richard.wynne@parliament.vic.gov.au asking that he not agree to Council preparing and exhibiting any more planning scheme amendments, including implementing the Village Centre Studies at Macedon and Mount Macedon, until State legislation, policy and planning controls to protect Macedon Ranges are in place.  Copy the email to Mary-Anne Thomas, MLA for Macedon mary-anne.thomas@parliament.vic.gov.au

MRRA Says:

Less, not more, from this economics-obsessed Council again, and the perceptions of favours being done for the few at the expense of the rest just won't go away.  One effect of what Council is doing will be to legitimise the Mt. Macedon pub's operation which many regard as currently lacking either an existing use right or a permit, and that's before turning to how the pub is operating - as if it's in King Street in Melbourne.  Hmmm...  wonder if it's supposed to be the 4.5 - 5 star "resort" referred to in Council's Tourism Strategy Plan?  Wouldn't that require a rather large injection of class? 

 

As for Macedon, despite needing Significant Landscape and Heritage overlays for 16 years, what does this Council spend our money on?  The failed C92 'additional residential development' amendment, and now "should" design guidelines for commercial development.  Economics: 1.  Environment: 0.

 

 

Mt. Macedon Village Centre Study - Adoption Of Study And Subsequent Amendment Deferred Until More Work And Consultation Done

(24/12/14 - P)   This time, unusually, 5 Councillors put a spoke in the Council's usual pattern of token consultation and speed-of-light preparation of a usually crappy planning scheme amendment   

All the officer's recommendation proposed was for Council to (a) adopt the study and (b) run an amendment.  No mention of the Development Guidelines that were supposed to be prepared, or any detail of all controls proposed for the very large, and very icky, Special Use Zone some at Council apparently long for.  

 

Those Councillors for noting (not adopting) the Study, and deferral to allow further work and consultation:  Anderson (Mayor), Piper, Mowatt, Connor, Hackett.  Those against:  Letchford, Jukes, Ellis, McLaughlin. 

 

MRRA Says:

Interesting vote.  The deferral could be a first step in - potentially - doing something better than how things are traditionally done in Macedon Ranges.  We live in hope.  At least tourists won't be fried as soon as they might have been if the whole substandard package had been moved ahead last week.  Well done to those Councillors who, for whatever reasons, supported further consultation.   Doesn't solve the existing problems though: all those ad hoc (unlawful?) "events" going on at Mt. Macedon, and incessant and increasing music/crowd noise and traffic are making the Mount the place not to be for either tourists or residents.   A pudding already over-egged...

 

CURRENT Mt. Macedon Village Study Up For Adoption At Council Meeting, Wednesday 17th December

(16/12/14 - P)  But it's a study in what?  No recommendations, but Council officers say Special Use rezoning to allow a 'sister' resort to the one proposed for Hanging Rock (17/12/14 Update):  One-line recommendation for a Special Use Zone is at page 16, last line of paragraph 3, @ zoning.  See also http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/firefighters-braced-for-swift-burning-bushfires-this-summer-20141216-1284ui.html:  Age article - CFA says Mt. Macedon could burn in 10 minutes.  Mt Macedon Village Centre Study says moderate risk, Council says build resorts ). 

It's a strange Study, because it looks at options to allow commercial development, but doesn't make a final recommendation.   What it does do is say no more residential because of the fire risk.  On the other hand, the CFA submission's request that part of the "fire assessment" (showing high and moderate risk areas) in the Study be deleted was refused. 

 

The meeting's agenda (17 December, 7.00pm Norma Richardson Hall, 15 Buckland Street, Woodend, next to St.Mary's Church) recommends rezoning to a Special Use zone (which allows Council to write it's own zone (or ticket, depending on your perspective).  Even though the study doesn't make this recommendation, seems officers have made up their minds and are asking Councillors to approve an amendment anyway.   The motion doesn't say what the amendment is for, just approve running an amendment.

 

MRRA Says:

Here we go again, Council putting people and property at risk (contrary to State policy) so some can develop to their heart's content.  The Study says the area's too risky for residential, but it seems it's OK to fry tourists. 

 

What the report doesn't do is include the Development Guidelines it recommends, or a solution to the horrendous traffic and noise problems already being experienced at Mt. Macedon from the plethora of "events" already being held there that are making residents' lives a misery.

 

There weren't many submissions, possibly because people didn't know about it, couldn't understand the A3 sized documents or couldn't access them (or maybe couldn't afford to pay Council almost $50 for a copy). 

 

And here we go again (again), Council officers presenting Council with a 'blank cheque' recommendation, expecting Councillors to adopt something unseen and unexplained.  The heartbreak is that most wouldn't understand it anyway.  As we have come to expect, there's also the usual proviso that the Study can be fiddled with behind closed doors after adoption by Council.  Will they never learn?

 

The smart money is on most Councillors either being supporters of anything development (or individual proposals), or being too thick to understand what any of this is or means. 

MRRA

 just wishes Council would indemnify ratepayers against the possible huge costs that could come out of such negligent decisions.  Make Councillors and officers who support this brain-drain personally liable for damages, instead of expecting ratepayers to cough up when the stuff hits the fan because of their irresponsibility.

 

The connection to Hanging Rock?  The idea for Council's gross development at Hanging Rock came from a one-eyed Council-prepared Tourist Accommodation report.  Hair standing up on your neck yet?  It should be.  That report said resorts at Hanging Rock and Mt. Macedon.  The Special Use rezoning up for decision on Wednesday night means it is Mt. Macedon's turn.