Archive:   Woodend Structure Plan

Last Updated  23/8/16



See also Amendment C84

See also Loddon Mallee South Regional Growth Plan

See also Villawood/Golf Course Hill






 Council To Go With Panel Recommendations for Woodend, Kyneton and Riddells Creek "Structure Plans"

(23/8/16) Growth endorsed, more development added - based on Council's shonky population figures, the towns and SHIRE don't have enough land for residential development!  How much is "enough" - we already had enough for 16,000 extra people?

On Wednesday 24 August (tomorrow) Macedon Ranges Council will vote on Panel recommendations for planning scheme amendments relating to Structure Plans:  C98 Woodend, C99 C103 and C105 Kyneton and C100 Riddells Creek.  The officer's recommendation is to adopt the Panel recommendations for each town.


Structure Plans were already compromised in amendments at Kyneton and Riddells Creek, where Council ditched exhibited Neighbourhood Character Studies in favour of its own unexhibited character Profiles.  After the panels hearings finished, Council sent panels info on population figures and growth (including figures from developers) that were deficient, and misleading, but led the panels to conclude the towns, and Shire, don't have enough land - in 2011, the Shire's Settlement Strategy said we had enough for another 16,000 people out to 2036.  How much growth and development does Council want?  More and more.


Woodend goes from most of the town in Neighbourhood Residential Zone to most being back in General Residential Zone, and a lot of that changed to 'preferred medium density' to boot.  Riddell is definitely getting another 250ha of growth areas (even though only 57ha was needed).  Kyneton - well, just let developers decide what the character will be in new development.  The amendments have been measured against State-wide and Melbourne standards, but there is no evidence they have been measured against the State government's intention to protect Macedon Ranges towns.  Oh, and the amendments focussed too much on character protection, not enough on development.


Council's also being a little bit naughty with the panel recommendations for the former Kyneton pool site (C103) and the Kyneton equine precinct (C105). 


Panel said put a Design and Development overlay over the pool site and include Urban Design Principles in it instead of stapling them to the Vendors Statement (as Council proposed).  Council's putting a Design and Development overlay on the pool site, but, um, not all the Urban Design Principles.  And, as you do, Council is authorising itself to waive the overlay's requirements. 


Panel said do a masterplan to support rezoning at the equine precinct near the Kyneton Racecourse, and explain what "equine-related activities" means.  Nup.  Council's going for the rezoning but not the masterplan.  Oh, and the way Council explained (or rather, didn't explain) what "equine-related activities" means is just fine.  No change.


And that, people, is how you reject panel recommendations when you don't have the balls to say you are doing it.


For more information:

Summary of Panel Recommendations for Woodend C98

Summary of Panel Recommendations for Kyneton (Structure Plan, C103 Kyneton pool site, C105 equine precinct)

Summary of Panel Recommendations for Riddells Creek C100

MRSC Residential Land Supply Assessment (Council's land supply assesment, sent to panels after the hearings)


MRRA Says:

This shows yet again that this Council couldn't be trusted as far as you could throw it.


These amendments support the type of growth you get in metropolitan growth areas.  They aren't going to produce what communities in these towns supported, because the amendments aren't implementing the Structure Plans for those towns.  They aren't compatible with "protecting" towns or the Shire.  The State government has final say on amendments, and it's preparing legislation to protect Macedon Ranges.  Vent at Council, register your views and concerns with the State government. 

Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne ;

Member for Macedon, Mary-Anne Thomas



Uh-oh...  What's Going On With The Amendment C107 Commercial Rezoning In Woodend?

(2/11/15 - P)   We don't know... but Council's strange behaviour certainly raises eyebrows and questions   Woodend Structure Plan File

At last Wednesday's Council meeting, Amendment C107 was on the agenda at item PE2.   The decision before Council was where the amendment went next.  MRRA objected to this amendment, and is apparently the only objector.


Here's the background:

Council adopted the Woodend Structure Plan in October last year.  That Structure Plan said "over the next 15 years" the town would need 1.1 ha of new commercial zoned land, and identified options that could be considered. The Plan also said apply a Design and Development Overlay to the town's commercial zone to ensure the town centre's character is protected in future development. 

Council then prepared Amendment C98 to put everything in the Woodend Structure Plan into the Shire's planning scheme - everything, that is, except the commercial rezoning which Council instead transferred to a separate amendment (Amendment C107).  The problem with this is that the Design and Development Overlay to be applied to this land isn't in Amendment C107 - it's in the main C98 amendment, which will take longer to get into the planning scheme.

MRRA objected to this arrangement because, as the commercial rezoning is proposed well in advance of Amendment C98, the new commercial land won't have the Design and Development Overlay needed to protect character until C98 is finally approved.  MRRA asked for the Overlay to be included with Amendment C107, or for Amendment C107 to be transferred to the main C98 amendment, but Council hasn't done this.   

Council is running 6 amendments related to town Structure Plans at the moment, and they are all going to the same planning panel hearing in February 2016 - except Amendment C107.  Council has a separate panel hearing for C107 in January.   MRRA met with a Council officer, and asked Council in writing to transfer Amendment C107 to the same panel hearing as the other five amendments.  

Council claims it needs to 'accelerate' the commercial rezoning in Amendment C107 so it can refuse to extend an existing planning permit for units on part of the land.  But as the commercial zone allows units, rezoning the land from residential to commercial doesn't give Council an advantage.   The solution to Council's 'problem' remains the same as it is now:  just say 'no' to another extension of the permit.

At last week's council meeting, the Mayor put forward a motion to move Amendment C107 to the same panel hearing as the other five amendments, but 7 of 9 Councillors voted that down before voting to forge ahead with a separate planning panel hearing for Amendment C107.  


In the debate in Council chamber over this agenda item, Cr. Letchford apparently observed that the objection was 'typical MRRA', asked who in MRRA is a qualified planner, and accused MRRA of being a secret society, of not operating democratically, of being totally opposite to democracy, of being run by a dictator who doesn't consult, and of not having minutes.  He apparently had some support from Cr. Jukes.  MRRA was also blamed for causing Council to have to run a separate planning panel which, it was claimed, would cost ratepayers in the order of $10,000 - $20,000 - including expert legal and planning advice Council would need to pay for.   


Quite apart from the obvious vote of no confidence in Council's planning staff this represents, there is no set fee for a planning panel - costs depend on the nature of the amendment.  As a single issue amendment, C107 would likely take no more than a single day ($2,000 - $3,000?), and even those costs could have been avoided by simply sending Amendment C107 to the same panel hearing as the other five amendments.  As Council has decided to run this commercial rezoning as a separate amendment, with a separate planning panel,  any additional costs to ratepayers are Council's responsibility.


MRRA Says:  


Some at Council seem to think MRRA operates the way Council does.  Not so - that would require a significant reduction in MRRA's standards.  We do have minutes, and we do take collective decisions and actions, but we are at a complete loss working out why a community group or anyone else in the community needs to have/be a qualified planner before Council will consider and respect their views.


With this latest example in a long history of personalised and often vitriolic attacks on various members of the community he disagrees with, Cr. Letchford has again demonstrated a deep misunderstanding of the role and responsibilities of a Councillor.  If he cannot desist from these attacks, how can he be considered an appropriate person to be a Councillor? 


As for Amendment C107, only Council knows the real reason process is being bypassed to fast-track this commercial rezoning ahead of the planning controls for it in Amendment C98. 


Thought Amendments C98 (Woodend), C99 (Kyneton) and C100 (Riddells Creek) Are Implementing Each Town's Structure Plan?  Think Again

(13/10/15 - P)   These amendments take the towns in a different direction to the Structure Plans Council adopted.  Substantial additions, deletions and changes have been made since the Structure Plans were adopted and it is these changes, not the Structure Plans, that are in the amendments.  Changes at Riddells Creek and Kyneton are so substantial, Council isn't even including the adopted Structure Plans as Reference Documents for the policies in these amendments.  Residents must make submissions to Council requesting their Structure Plans replace what's in these amendments by October 23.   Kyneton Structure Plan Archive  Riddells Creek Structure Plan Archive


See Report on Council Meeting 16 December 2015 for update


C98 Woodend-Points to look for (corrected to show both Woodend Structure Plan documents have been exhibited)

C99 Kyneton-Points to look for

C100 Riddells Creek-Points to look for


Here we have another example of some of the few things this Council seems to excel at:  deception, manipulation, not listening to its community. 


These three towns had considerable community consultation (compared with Council's usual consultation standards), with well respected consultants, which produced integrated Structure Plans, Neighbourhood Character Studies and recommendations for strong planning scheme controls to protect each town's character as it grows.  This fostered high community expectations that at last, towns would no longer have to be damaged by one suburban-style development after another. 


Council adopted these Structure Plans.  Now it has produced amendments that put something quite different in the planning scheme.  At Riddells Creek and Kyneton, Council hasn't just abandoned the Structure Plans, but their Neighbourhood Character Studies and Development Contributions Plans/Overlays as well. 


Council didn't say it had made these changes in the letters it sent to residents.  It also apparently didn't think it was necessary to consult communities about these substantial changes, before formalising them in a planning scheme amendment.  In fact, Council's comments in each amendment's Explanatory Report seem to suggest community consultation and support for the Structure Plans was consultation and support for what is in the amendments.  It wasn't.


The changes focus on promoting growth, economic development and residential development - all very familiar themes from this Council.  Little of the Structure Plans' focus on environmental or community issues is included in the amendments (for example, at Kyneton protecting the Campaspe River's environmental values is translated into making sure development faces the River).  Population figures are inflated at Riddells Creek and Kyneton, and poor old Kyneton has somehow become the Large District Town in 2011 that the Settlement Strategy said it would be in 2036.  The Riddell and Kyneton Neighbourhood Character Studies have been replaced with Council's homogenised version of neighbourhood character, and Council's generic neighbourhood character precincts.  Woodend fares better, but changes and omissions in C98 weaken or misrepresent the Structure Plan's policy. 


MRRA has prepared some information about what to look for in these amendments to help residents understand the problems, and make submissions.   Links are provided above.


RESIDENTS OF THESE TOWNS, AND PARTICULARLY KYNETON AND RIDDELLS CREEK, ARE URGED TO MAKE SUBMISSIONS BY 23 OCTOBER.  This is a formal planning scheme amendment process, and you will only have formal 'standing' in that process if you have made a submission by the closing date.


In your submissions, ask Council to change the amendments to remove its rewritten policy, replace it with the Structure Plan's policy, reinstate Structure Plan Neighbourhood Character Studies, add stronger and more planning scheme controls to deliver Structure Plan findings, and re-exhibit the amendments for further community comment.  


Submissions (clearly identifying the amendment they relate to) must be sent to Strategic Planning and Environment, Macedon Ranges Shire Council, either at PO Box 151, Kyneton 3444, or emailed to


You can download each town's amendment documentation from Council's website by going to



Woodend Community Prevails As Council Rejects Villawood's Latest Development Proposal On 7 to 1 Vote

(25/10/14 - P)  Lone-voiced objector, Cr. Letchford again defends Villawood, calls Woodend community the "Town of No", and was the only vote for Villawood's application - until a division was called.  Then he sided with the Nays and it became a unanimous 'NO'.   Golf Course HIll/Villawood  

At last Wednesday's Council meeting (22/10/14), only three of 14 reports were dealt with in chamber, and the latest Villawood application to rezone its large tract of Farming and Rural Conservation zoned land was one of them.   Cr. Connor moved the officer's recommendation to refuse, saying he has heard the message about what the community wants, and the Woodend Township Structure Plan was accepted.  It was time to get it in the planning scheme and get it done.  Cr. Anderson seconded the motion.  Cr. Mowatt said it was neither the time nor the place to consider Villawood's request, and one of the Structure Plan's key thrusts is to investigate growth options inside the town boundary before investigating any outside.  He said it was clear where we [Council] are at - we knock it back tonight. 


With Villawood representatives in the gallery, Cr. Letchford then took the floor to put what he rather whimsically described as an analytical and philosophical perspective, which rapidly deteriorated into taking a slice off the Woodend community which, it seems, doesn't know what it is missing by rejecting Villawood's proposal.  Cr.Letchford again trotted out the old chestnut about not having (Villawood's) new greenfields growth areas means suburban infill everywhere instead.  He seemed to say that the community's position was untenable, and not taking Villawood in Woodend increased growth pressures on Gisborne and other towns; that the Structure Plan's population and land supply numbers are [as always] all wrong; available land is under-estimated; landowners are land-banking; the negative effects of population growth have been over-estimated/over-stated; and saying no to Villawood was taking a populist position.  He pointed out that Villawood's wasn't a new application, it had been there before.  Philosophically perhaps, he asked why would Council say no to new reserves?  Why refuse an application that posed no cost to Council?   He said it was Villawood which was being threatened, alleging various acts of vandalism against them.  The Councillor's comments were interrupted by calls from the gallery for points of order, and from Councillors, as Cr. Letchford wandered off topic again and again, despite several warnings from the Mayor.  Cr. Letchford rounded his speech off by saying that 'community's views' weren't the whole community's views, and he hadn't seen a plebiscite.


Cr. Anderson countered, saying it was wrong to claim moving this amendment forward would have no cost to Council.  It would, in fact, trigger costs to Council in officer time and representation at a panel.  There is an endorsed Structure Plan.  There had been a community reference group, including Villawood representatives, that had accepted the analyses, accepted the constraints.   The Woodend Structure Plan stands, it's time to put it in the planning scheme.


The vote was then taken, with Crs. McLaughlin, Anderson, Piper, Jukes, Hackett, Connor and Mowatt (7) FOR the officer's recommendation to refuse;  Cr. Letchford (1) against.  Cr. Morabito was absent.  A division (which records how each Councillor voted in the minutes) was called.  After the seven Councillors FOR were named, and it came time to record who voted AGAINST, Cr. Letchford changed his vote from AGAINST to FOR, making it a unanimous 8-0 decision to refuse.


During the course of the (very short) meeting, a Villawood representative asked firstly to address the chamber (but was denied), and then at Question Time, asked Council ("in the interests of procedural fairness") to exhibit Villawood's proposal so people could see its merits (request refused). 


MRRA Says:


Wooo.  Superlative triple gold medal and unlimited elephant stamps backflip from Cr. Letchford, which rightly reaped instant, audible contempt from the gallery.  What a cracker performance!   Although execution was sloppy, the extreme degree of difficulty would surely make it impossible for people of conviction to emulate.  And... and... could it be that the good Councillor's belated but overtly overwhelming desire to not go down in the official record as Villawood's sole supporter places him in the same camp as those low-life nay-sayers from the "Town of No" he so frequently and contemptuously condemns?   Hmm, might be a close call - too late, and those nay-sayers from Woodend just might not want him on their side.  P.S. Dear Woodend - fellow 'people from the Town of No' - wear it with pride.   MRRA does.  


Here again was confirmation that Villawood will whinge, misrepresent, bully, threaten and manipulate ad nauseam, to get what it wants.  The Woodend community is painted as some hotbed of anarchistic vandals and thugs, allegedly damaging and threatening Villawood.  Why would anyone bother?  That vacant, lonely-looking Villawood shopfront tells everyone all they need to know. Conveniently forgotten by Villawood is that for the best part of 10 years (when reports of plans for a 1,000 lot subdivision first began circulating) Villawood has darkened, invaded, derided, misled, threatened, smacked down and parachuted its agents into the Woodend community - and, obviously, has lobbied decision-makers hard - in order to enrich itself by turning its sow's ear of a speculative land purchase into a self-serving silk purse.  Villawood's proposals have never been about Woodend, they have been about Villawood opening up a new lucrative, greenfields housing market, outside the town boundary, not because it's needed, but because that's where their land is.


 Another defeat, another threat.  Villawood's latest craw-sticking utterance is that if it doesn't get what it wants, someone worse - an aggressive big-time developer - might buy the land.  Really?  With Villawood's litany of failures, could anyone else be so lacking in nouse and financial acumen?  


As for Villawood persisting with self-serving claims that there is only a noisy minority in Woodend opposed to its aspirations, MRRA's reading of community sentiment is that an army of Woodend residents would walk over hot coals to get to a plebiscite to vote against Villawood and its proposals.  BRING IT ON.


 Click here to see the Guardian's report



The Stench Of Villawood Assaults Woodend Yet Again With Yet Another (Amendment) Development Proposal Outside The Town Boundary

(20/10/14 - P)   They're back!  This time they want their 500-odd acres at Golf Course Hill rezoned for 150 lots (0.5ha to 20ha) and a potential retirement village (no numbers provided - as you do)   Golf Course HIll/Villawood

At next Wednesday's (22/10/14) Council meeting, yet another proposal from Villawood will come before Council, this time a request for an amendment to the Macedon Ranges planning scheme to rezone their land from Farming and Rural Conservation Zones to Low Density Residential.


The officer's recommendation is to refuse the request, because it pre-empts the Woodend Structure Plan and investigation of other areas for possible future expansion, and because there isn't any justification available to expand development outside the town boundary.


The Council meeting will be at Gisborne Shire Offices, Robertson St, Gisborne, starting at 7.00 pm.  


NOTE:  In time honoured tradition, Council's website has it wrong again.  Villawood's request for an amendment is Item PE5 on the Council agenda, but Council's website shows no attachment to Item PE5.  It is there, as the Attachment to Item PE4.  Four attachments to PE4 are shown on the MRSC website.  The one you want says just PE4, the others say PE4 1, PE4 2, PE4 3. 


MRRA Says:


Well, well.  Which of our Councillors will be Villawood's friend this time around?  


Last May (28/5/14), Crs. Letchford and Hackett gave excellent impressions of supporting what Villawood wanted, arguing vehemently for deferral of adoption of the Woodend Structure Plan to allow 'secret' and 'unseen' and 'not-properly-considered' matters to be considered.  They were supported in the vote by Cr. Morabito.   Pretty much everyone in the gallery, and in Woodend, clocked the key reason for trying to defer as being 'because the Woodend Structure Plan didn't support or suit Villawood'.  


Then cast your mind back to that Special Council meeting on 4 September 2013 (rescission motions for Amendment C84, and Hanging Rock).  That night, the C84 amendment's Woodend policy was rewritten, in a rescission motion, in chamber, to basically reflect what Villawood wanted for Woodend.  Cr. Letchford moved the motion, Cr. Mowatt seconded, and the changes were also supported by Crs. Morabito, Hackett, McLaughlin, Connor, and Jukes.  No, your eyes don't deceive you - TWO West ward Councillors (Connor and Jukes) supported what Villawood wanted over what their West ward constituents wanted.


Something else to keep in mind:  Villawood's amendment request is for rezoning to a Low Density Residential zone [LDRZ] (and 150 lots).  The Low Density Residential zone has recently been changed.  The zone used to have a mandatory 0.4 ha minimum lot size.  Not now.  Sewered Low Density Residential zoned land can be subdivided down to 0.2ha unless a schedule to the LDRZ says otherwise.  Macedon Ranges Shire, of course, doesn't have a schedule that says otherwise.  Villawood says its 150 LDRZ lots (0.5ha to 20ha) will be sewered so, on paper at least, all of those 150 LDRZ lots could in future be subdivided into 2000 square metre lots.  Now that's a lot of lots!   As for how big any retirement village might be - hmm, pick a number:  1, 10, 100 acres?


MRRA's advice to Woodend residents is to immediately start asking all Councillors, and particularly West ward Crs. Connor and Jukes, if they are going to put the Woodend Structure Plan and the Woodend community's wishes before the profit-making aspirations of these developers by supporting refusal of this rezoning request.   PS  Might be a waste of time trying to convince Crs. Letchford and Hackett to support either a plan or the community, but give it a go anyway


UPDATE  Woodend Township Structure Plan - Cr. Letchford Rescission Motion

(9/6/14 - P)   Pressure sees Councillor withdraw motion to overturn adoption of the Structure Plan   

Following the 5 to 3 vote at the 28/5/14 Council meeting to adopt the Woodend Township Structure Plan (over the objection of Crs. Letchford, Hackett and Morabito - see earlier report), Cr. John Letchford lodged a rescission motion against the resolution to adopt.   The rescission motion attracted community outrage, particularly as the interests it appeared to serve were not those of the Woodend community. 


Council's original 28/5/14 (adoption) motion now stands, and the Woodend Township Structure Plan 9 is officially "adopted" by Council.


MRRA Says:

And the winners, by a long way, are...  community, and integrity.  


Community Disbelief As Cr. John Letchford Lodges Rescission Motion To Overturn Council's Adoption Of The Woodend Structure Plan

(3/6/14 - C)   The South Ward Councillor apparently thinks Woodend needs new greenfields rezoning for more growth.  That's not what the Plan, West ward councillors, the community and others say, but 'SNAP', it is what Villawood says.  So whose interests is Cr. Letchford representing?  


The scene:  Last Wednesday's (28/5/14) Council meeting.  A large public gallery.  Item PE2: Adoption of the Woodend Township Structure Plan [WTSP].


South ward Cr. John Letchford stood and waved around what he called a 'secret' document - the Structure Plan's land supply analysis - saying it hadn't been put before Councillors.  He argued that adoption of the Plan be deferred in the interests of transparency so Councillors could consider the 'secret' document. 

Cr. Hackett then stood and pretty much said what Cr. Letchford had said.  He called the land supply analysis a '"new and uncirculated" document ("new evidence"), and somewhat surprisingly (but with great gusto) heavily underscored the need for transparency, truth and honesty. 


Cr. Letchford said some think the document grossly over-estimates the available land supply in the town; was concerned about use of overlays to identify constraints; said the town boundary hadn't been tested; and the Structure Plan wasn't consistent with the Amendment C84 panel recommendations (which is what developers like Villawood say).  A local press article indicates Cr.Letchford supports revisiting expansion of the town boundary, and greenfields development (which is what developers like Villawood want). 


Crs Jukes, Anderson and Piper defended the Structure Plan, praising the time and consultation in its preparation, and noting wide-spread community support for the Plan.


The Woodend Township Structure Plan concludes there is enough vacant 'unconstrained' existing residential zoned land in the town to accommodate 18 years' "infill" growth (i.e. filling in existing gaps) - without needing new greenfields rezoning or expanding the town boundary.  Note:  The Plan's land supply only counts 'unconstrained' vacant land.  It doesn't count any potential future subdivision of currently developed lots (WTSP page 21), development of 'constrained' land (WTSP page 21), or medium density unit development - these are all additional options for accommodating growth.


Councillors who voted to approve the Woodend Structure Plan were Jukes, Anderson, Piper, Mowatt and Connor - to loud applause.


Councillors who voted against were Letchford, Hackett and Morabito.  (NB Cr.McLaughlin was an apology).


See 28/5/14 motion (with amendments) approved by Council.


Cr. Letchford is not taking no for an answer and has lodged a rescission motion forcing the matter back to Council for another decision, with potential for the Plan's adoption to be overturned.  If the five councillors who already voted to approve the Plan stand firm, Cr. Letchford's rescission motion will be defeated and the Plan will move forward.  If not, Villawood gets what it wants, courtesy of politics not strategic planning.


MRRA Says:

Ah.  Cr. Letchford.  He who supported Council's Hanging Rock development right up until the Minister for Planning intervened, and moved the motion to overturn a Panel recommendation to abandon Amendment C92.


It's not the first time Cr.Letchford has acted in a way which has given an advantage to Villawood.  At a Special Council meeting last September he successfully moved a motion to rescind Council's adopted Amendment C84 policy for Woodend and replace it with new policy (a change subsequently strongly supported by Villawood's representative at the 16 December 2013 reconvened Amendment C84 Panel hearing).  Minutes show only Crs. Anderson and Piper opposed Cr. Letchford's motion.


Our 'smell a rodent' meter is running red hot on this.   Let's see:

  1 28/5/14 Council meeting, Item PE2 Attachment 2 Summary of WTSP Submissions & Council responses.


Villawood (or more properly Davies Hill Pty Ltd) know this Structure Plan is the last throw of the dice.  If it can't get what it wants in the Structure Plan, its huge speculative greenfields proposal is over.  


So what's the final count?  On the one hand, support for infill development and/or the existing town boundary (i.e. no greenfields development or expansion of the town boundary) comes from:

On the other hand, Cr. Letchford, and Villawood supporters, say Woodend needs greenfields development and an expanded town boundary.


Yukko - makes your skin crawl!  Definitely, definitely NOT a good look for the 'boy in blue', Cr. Letchford.  Who of the other councillors will support his rescission motion? MRRA will be watching the outcome intently, with an eye to lodging formal complaints with multiple authorities.


Footnote 1: At the 28/5/14 council meeting, both Crs. Anderson and Letchford declared they had met with developers (Cr. Anderson voted to adopt the Structure Plan, Cr. Letchford voted to defer and when unsuccessful, lodged a rescission motion).


Footnote 2:  Someone is saying all 15 community representatives on the WTSP Community Reference Group were MRRA members.  That's news to us (and would also be to the real estate and Villawood interests on the Group!), and completely false.  Two people on the Group declared an affiliation with MRRA when they nominated, but they nominated as residents, not MRRA representatives.  What they said or did was up to them.


Council Stabs The Woodend Structure Plan - And Community - In The Back

(23/4/13-RA-P)  As someone pointed out at the 18 April meeting, the Woodend community isn't stupid, don't treat it as if it is... Comments on the Discussion Paper can be made until 30 April / Community meeting 29 April


At last Thursday's Woodend Structure Plan meeting in Woodend, there was a strong show of hands indicating lack of confidence in Council's processes, and the only ones surprised were Council and the consultants.  In particular, concerns were raised with Council's notion of "best practice" consultation, which is seen as falling far short of that lofty standard. Calls for additional community consultation on the Structure Plan were unsuccessful.


The meeting, attended by at least 120 people, was intended to consider the Discussion Paper issued beforehand, and obtain community views.  Present were the Mayor Roger Jukes and Councillor Jennifer Anderson (two of the three West Ward councillors - Cr. Connor absent); Council planning officers (including Sophie Segafredo, Director of Planning and Environment); and representatives of Planisphere, the consultants engaged by Council for this project.  Those few wanting their greenfields land developed - e.g. the Villawood Property Pty Ltd lobbyists - were also there.


It started badly.  The map presented (from the Discussion Paper) showed an enormous Study Area for the Structure Plan (twice the size of the existing town).  The map included ALL of Villawood's rural land to the north-west; ALL rural land out to the freeway to the south-east, east and north-east of the town; and the always-illogical Settlement Strategy Study Area boundary, BUT NOT THE EXISTING TOWN BOUNDARY.  The consultant said "you choose the boundary".  The people said, put the existing one back.


Growth rate figures from the Discussion Paper were shown, which did not include the adopted Settlement Strategy growth rate. Thos on offer were all instead much higher.  The consultant said "you choose the growth rate".  That's when it became clear that the adopted Settlement Strategy's low growth scenario for Woodend isn't where the Structure Plan is going.  Someone has decided Woodend will be treated as a 'clean sheet of paper'.  This is also evident in Discussion Paper putting forward arguments for new zoning of commercial and industrial land - new zoning found to not be required in the adopted Settlement Strategy.  Here's how Council has changed growth rates:


Average Annual Growth Rates Adopted Settlement Strategy AAGR Discussion Paper AAGR
Historical Growth Rate 0.6% (1991 - 2006: 15 years) 1.3% (2001 - 2011: 10 years)
2006 - 2011 Growth Rate  ABS Census: 0.6% - 0.7% 1.5%
Growth Rate to 2036 1.17% (5,000 people in 2036) Minimum 1.3%
Council Projections from 2009   1.6%
Loddon Mallee South Regional Strategy   1.7%
Victoria In Future Projections 2008   1.8%


The Interim Panel Report for Amendment C84 was blamed for these changes, although it's not clear where the misrepresentations being presented to the people of Woodend appear in the Panel's Report.


Council, the Discussion Paper and consultants are claiming there are diverse/alternative community views on growth in Woodend.  It would be more factually accurate to say there is the vast majority of Woodend residents who want the town to continue to grow as it has, and then there is a very small minority who want their interests served by absurdly high growth, expansion of the town boundary and greenfields rezoning - and most of those don't live in Woodend.


Comment was also made at the meeting on the membership of the Structure Plan Community Reference Group established by Council. Council has yet to explain why it appointed Stuart Bonnington, who has apparently worked for Villawood Properties P/L for around 2 years and lives at Macedon, as a community representative (i.e. to represent community views) on that Reference Group.


Although the opposing views of the non-Villawood types on the Villawood table were ignored in the feedback for that table (presented to the meeting by Stuart Bonnington), the overall message to Council from the Woodend community at the other 12 tables was clear enough:  we strongly value what we have, historical or low growth, growth to be kept within the existing township, keep the town rural, protect character, protect environment, no suburban-style or fast-food-chain commercial development.


Residents were told they could comment on the Discussion Paper until April 30, although there is no information saying this, or where to send comments, on Council's website. 

Try sending them to and don't forget to also send them to all Councillors.


Note:  'Settle Woodend' is holding a community meeting on the Structure Plan and C84 on Monday 29 April.  See story below.


MRRA Says:


Yep, Council has dropped a clanger again.  Another insult to the people of Woodend (remember the farcical "public" meeting on the Settlement Strategy in Woodend in July 2011?); another rubbish and rushed consultation process; another example of Council not respecting, defending or listening to community views; another example of Council ignoring its own adopted position on the Settlement Strategy.  Council either has big balls, or no brains (probably the latter), to cruise into Woodend and think it can rewrite the adopted low growth scenario for the town without anyone noticing.  Or maybe Council has just had too many private meetings with developers...


By way of background, for Woodend the annual growth rate to 2036 in the exhibited 2010 draft Settlement Strategy retained the historical average annual growth rate of 0.6% (i.e. the average annual rate at which Woodend grew from 1991 to 2006).  This wasn't considered enough by the Department of Planning and Community Development.  As a result the historical growth rate and number of additional people to 2036 was doubled (to around 1.1% and 5,000 people) in the Macedon Ranges Settlement Strategy adopted by Council in July 2011.  This doubled growth was assessed as able to be accommodated in existing residential zoned land within the existing town boundary.  Concurrently a statement - that no greenfields rezoning was required to accommodate growth out to 2036 - was added to (and adopted for) the Settlement Strategy.


Note: existing Residential zoned land in Woodend (except land west of Noonan Grove) has been zoned for residential development since adoption of the first Shire of Newham and Woodend Planning Scheme in 1978.  In 2011, more than 30 years later, there is/was still enough of the land zoned for residential development 30 years ago to provide between 500 (1,000 square metre) lots (low-end supply) and 1,200 lots (high-end supply) within the town for the next 30 years.


Deceptively, the Discussion Paper is now saying the town's historical growth rate is 1.3%, not 0.6%, and instead of the adopted growth rate of around 1.1%, Council is now offering a growth rate out to 2036 of between 1.3% and 1.8%.  Council has also now deleted the 'no greenfields' statement from Amendment C84 even though the statement remains in the adopted Settlement Strategy.


MRRA's reading of the C84 Panel's comments on Woodend is that the Panel didn't say do what Council is doing. The Panel said Council hadn't put up an evaluation which countered the evaluations put up by the developers, and it was unable to test those arguments because Council hadn't done the work necessary to justify and support the Settlement Strategy's low growth scenario.  Critically, the Panel said address that failing through the Woodend Structure Plan [ODP] process.  That's not what is happening.  In addition, Council has long told Woodend residents that the Structure Plan process would implement the Settlement Strategy, which is a community expectation. That's not what is happening, either.  Council is instead pitching a 'ditch-the-Settlement-Strategy-and-start-over' approach - with lots more growth - and a Discussion Paper that fails to recognise just about everything in the Settlement Strategy.


The Discussion Paper itself lacks detail and specificity, and sounds as if it was written by someone unfamiliar with Woodend.  For example, specific demographics available for Woodend aren't given, instead the tired old motherhood statements about aging population and single person households is rolled out.  Nothing here about no change in persons per household between 2006-2011, no mention of what down-sizing means in Woodend (hint: it's not bout aspiring to a 300 square metre lot), or the churn or turnover rate which means almost 50% of the people in Woodend didn't live at the same address 5 years before.  What you see isn't extra people, it's different people.


As for Woodend having so much car parking available that consideration could be given to waiving car parking requirements for new business, woohooo! somebody needs to remember the outrage from community and existing businesses alike at any suggestion of less parking during the Woodend Urban Design Framework process.  Newsflash:  Residents don't think there is enough parking in Woodend now.  They won't park three streets away (where the empty spaces are) to shop in the town centre, and as many of them are commuters, they have lots of other options.


To get some idea of how skimpy the Woodend Discussion Paper is, check out the February 2013 Discussion Paper prepared by Yarra Ranges Shire Council for the Healesville Structure Plan  That Discussion Paper is 60-odd pages; Woodend's is 13 pages.  Note also that Healesville gets an additional consultation phase - asked for but not agreed to for Woodend at the meeting last Thursday.  The Woodend Discussion Paper is also a much lesser document than equivalents produced for the Gisborne and Romsey Outline development Plans, amendments for which (C67 and C66 respectively) have just put into the planning scheme.  Hmmm... It's already evident that the Woodend Structure Plan process is nasty, now it's looking pretty cheap as well.


Obvious issues to pick up on in any comments on the Discussion Paper include putting the existing town boundary back, dropping the Settlement Strategy boundary; demanding an explanation of why Villawood's and all that other land someone wants to subdivide is in there, but nothing anywhere else; and get Settlement Strategy growth rates, 'no greenfields', and findings on industrial and commercial land into the Discussion Paper.  It also needs to be a Plan out to 2036, not 15-20 years (15 years is too close to Council's changed Woodend policy in Amendment C84, which now says there is only 15 years' supply of land in Woodend instead of 30).


Another issue is the draft Aspect Studios Landscape Character Study, 2010.  This document underpins the Settlement Strategy; the Interim Panel Report refers to it as having important findings for land to the north-west of Woodend; and it is a reference document to the Discussion Paper.  But it's still a draft, never adopted by Council, (i.e. it has no official status) and as far as MRRA knows, it is not publicly available and certainly isn't available as part of the Structure Plan process.


The Discussion Paper needs to stop relying on self-interested claims that there is massive demand in Woodend, and do the work itself.  Start with the census, the historical growth rate and the historical building rate for dwellings.


Overall, the simple thing to tell Council is: START AGAIN, and next time put the Settlement Strategy in it.  You might also point out the deficiencies in the Woodend process, and ask why isn't Woodend's Discussion Paper and process like that for Healesville, Gisborne and Romsey.  Just make sure you say something by 30 April.


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

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


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


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


Be there, or register your interest at


MRRA Says:

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


Woodend Town Structure Plan Workshop:  18 April 7.00pm Community Centre

(9/4/13-RA-P)  Also download a Discussion Paper about the Structure Plan


Planisphere - consultants working on the Woodend Town Structure Plan - will be hosting a community workshop on Thursday April 18, 7.00pm, at the Woodend Community Centre, Forest Street, Woodend.  The workshop is intended to provide community feedback to go into a draft Structure Plan for Woodend to 2036


A Discussion Paper has also been prepared and is available (see below), or hard copies can be picked up at Council Service Centres.  Its purpose is to provide the community with background information for the 18 April Workshop, so make sure you get a copy.


Click here for the Discussion Paper, or go to Council's new website.  To save you the frustration of trying to find the Woodend Structure Plan page on Council's new and often unfathomable website, here's a direct link to the page you need:


Council says:  Please RSVP to or call (03) 5422 0333 if you would like to attend the 18 April workshop.


MRRA Says:

Very important for Woodend residents to get along to this, because Villawood is looking to hijack the process, and the plan.  Council set up a Community Reference Group for this project, and Stuart Bonnington who represents Villawood, is on it.  The plan MUST be about what the people of Woodend want, not what Villawood and its hangers-on want.


Woodend Structure Plan Issues Paper - Community Comment By August 3

(28/7/12 - P)  Have your say on what's important to Woodend's future and what the town's plan should address

What's it all about?  Remember the Settlement Strategy?  That was a high level strategic planning project, looking at growth for all of the Shire's towns.  What it didn't address was where the growth goes within the towns themselves, and where and what type of development would occur.  Dealing with those issues is about to happen with the Woodend Structure Plan.  This time, it's only about Woodend, and will set down where, what and how development rolls out until 2036.  VERY IMPORTANT TO GET IT RIGHT, FROM THE OUTSET!  That's where you come in.


Macedon Ranges Shire Council is about to hire a consultant to prepare the plan, but before it does that, it wants to know what you think is important in Woodend, and what issues the plan needs to address.  Council has posted an Issues Paper on its website (and it’s attached to this email), which contains the issues Council thinks are important.  You might agree or disagree with Council, or have some more issues you think should be there.  Here are a few thoughts to get you going:

Now you've got your thinking caps on, the MOST IMPORTANT thing is to jot down a few notes about what you think the plan needs to address (doesn't have to be War and Peace!) and send it off to Council as your submission BY AUGUST 3RD (that's next Friday).


People from outside the town will be having their say about what they want or what serves their interests, so make sure you have your say as well even if it is simply one point you feel passionate about. 


Send your submission to Macedon Ranges Shire Council, PO Box 151, Kyneton 3444; drop it off at Gisborne or Kyneton Shire Offices; or email it to but make sure it gets there no later than close of business Friday 3 August.


MRRA Says:


Those amongst you with more time might want to take up on some of the meatier issues MRRA thinks are important, including: 

The latest Census data (2011) is available for Statistical Local Areas (these are roughly the "old" shires of Kyneton and Romsey, with Gisborne and Woodend lumped into what's known as the Balance area).  While care is needed working with the Balance area, these data still provide some insights.  For example, household sizes in the Balance area didn't change between 2006 and 2011, remaining at 2.8 persons per household, while the Shire average fell from 2.8 to 2.7.  The Settlement Strategy assumes decreasing household sizes in calculating lots needed to accommodate projected growth, and the figure for Woodend was 2.45 persons per household (1,300 people / 500+ lots).  2.8 persons per household in the Balance area (Gisborne and Woodend), means fewer lots are needed to accommodate the same number of people.

While we are glad Council put out an Issues Paper, we wish we felt Council's heart was really in it.  Where was the public meeting / workshop to get people together to talk about these issues?  Where was the very loud noise coming from Council to make sure as many people as possible not only participated, but KNEW ABOUT THE ISSUES PAPER, and what it means?  Not off to an impressive start on the consultation process, Council needs to greatly improve its engagement and discussion with the Woodend community.