Archive:  2018 - Macedon Ranges Protection BULLETIN

Posted: 23/12/17  Last Updated:  13/11/18

 

Additional Information

Resolution carried at Public Meeting held on 13/2/18 at the Gisborne Mechanics Institute, Gisborne

MRRA Presentation at Public Meeting held on 13/2/18 at the Gisborne Mechanics Institute, Gisborne

What You Can Do / Make A Submission / Points for Submissions (Updated 21/2/18, including postal address for submissions)

Extract from Statement of Planning Policy No. 8: "Implications" section  sets out priorities missing in the Localised Planning Statement  (posted 19/2/18)

"Settle Woodend" group's excellent explanation of the Localised Planning Statement situation.  Focus is on Woodend but all will find useful (posted 7/2/18)

Comparison of existing planned population growth in Macedon Ranges v accelerated growth in the LPS:  it's on a par with the metro urban growth planned for Sunbury...

Why the Localised Planning Statement's 500ha expansion of Woodend's town boundary is flawed

 

 

NEW  The State Government Has Not Delivered The Protection It Promised Macedon Ranges

(13/11/18 - SP)  One step forward has been matched by two steps back.   Macedon Ranges is not yet protected.

 

In 2014, the State government promised to legislate to protect Macedon Ranges “using Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 [the protective policy for Macedon Ranges since 1975] as the basis for legislative protection”, to provide “the highest level of protection possible”, and to protect Macedon Ranges “for good”.   

 

After the 2014 election, MRRA said it would hold the new government to delivering its promised legislative protection, which has been put forward in three parts:

  1. In December 2017 the government introduced the Distinctive Areas and Landscapes Bill, which came into operation in May 2018 (and is now included in the Planning and Environment Act at Part 3AAB).  
  2. As required by the Distinctive Areas and Landscapes legislation, in August 2018 the Minister for Planning gazetted a Declaration making Macedon Ranges a Distinctive Area and Landscape.  The Declaration (a) confirms Macedon Ranges is a “declared area”, and (b) identifies the Shire’s distinctive attributes and threats to them.
  3. As required by the Distinctive Areas and Landscapes legislation, the third necessary part of legislative protection is a new Statement of Planning Policy.  A contentious draft Localised Planning Statement released over Christmas 2017 was succeeded by an equally contentious draft Statement of Planning Policy in August 2018 which has not been finalised before the election, leaving it open to later change without consultation.  This new draft Statement of Planning Policy formally abandons Statement of Planning Policy No. 8; ‘protects’ only significant biodiversity, landscapes and heritage; and expands some town boundaries without process while not providing settlement boundaries for others.  It also fails to meet the legislation’s standards for a Statement of Planning Policy, and last September Macedon Ranges Shire Council declined to endorse it. 

The protection promised by the State government - "legislative protection based on Statement of Planning Policy No. 8" - has not eventuated.

 

In addition, other actions by the State government over the past 4 years - altering, reducing and removing planning controls - have also undermined the ability to protect Macedon Ranges' values: 

 

There are now also other disturbing signs the "protection" provided so far isn't working well:

 

MRRA acknowledges and appreciates the importance of the legislation and Declaration, but this partial gain is off-set by the backward steps of the failed draft Statement of Planning Policy, loss of Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 when it was promised to be the basis for legislative protection, and the other undermining actions taken.  What's on the table isn't good enough to save Macedon Ranges, and there is no reason to hope that the government will listen to the community or live up to its commitment to Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 after the election.  It is not honest to claim Macedon Ranges is protected.  By any measure, the State government has not delivered the protection it promised Macedon Ranges in 2014.

 

MRRA Says:

 

Something that started as "legislative protection based on Statement of Planning Policy No. 8" has become a process (or an excuse) to get rid of Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, mirroring the Brumby Labor government's attempt to rid itself of SPP8 in 2008, a move which backfired when a 3,000 signature petition calling for SPP8 to be retained was presented to parliament. 

 

Macedon Ranges is being offered a pretender Statement of Planning Policy which abandons Statement of Planning Policy No 8 (the Macedon Ranges and Surrounds policy that has underpinned planning in Macedon Ranges for 40 years), and which replaces SPP8's protective, prescriptive, universal principles and policies with a growth plan and "should be" protection only for the Shire's most significant values. 

 

So much hope turned to so much disappointment.  The promise has proven to be insincere.  

 

NEW  Action Required  Macedon Ranges Draft Landscape Assessment Study On Exhibition (Submissions Close 18 November)

(12/11/18 - P)  There's some good in it (expanded Significant Landscape Overlays) but it makes the fatal mistake of saying delete Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 from Macedon Ranges planning scheme (reminiscent of the Brumby government's attempts to get rid of it), and doesn't do a damned thing for landscapes except the most significant ones.  Nice going - not.   MRRA won't be supporting it.

The draft Macedon Ranges Landscape Assessment, prepared by consultant Claire Scott, is currently on exhibition.  Some aspects are positive (it applies new Significant Landscape Overlays and policy to the most significant parts of the Shire), but the Association won't be supporting it,  for the following reasons:

As Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 (a) has underpinned strategic planning in Macedon Ranges for the past 45 years and (b) addresses other important issues as well – additional to landscape – its deletion is not a matter for a landscape assessment to recommend, and would leave a policy vacuum in the planning scheme. 

All other landscapes and views are not addressed, and no recommendations are made for their protection (including Jacksons Creek escarpment).  This leaves the "rest" open to the argument that they are not significant and therefore not to be protected.  Stop Press - this has just happened at VCAT (the area involved wasn't on the list, wasn't as important as Mt. Macedon, so go ahead).

It instead relies on the  draft Statement of Planning Policy (and the draft 2017 Localised Planning Statement put out by the State government last Christmas at that).   And of course, the draft Statement of Planning Policy that the State government wants us to accept only requires protection of State significant landscapes.  On the other hand, Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 recognises all of the area as a place of natural beauty and special significance.

The Order identified “Threats to NATURAL landscapes and landforms…” across the entire declared area (the Shire), but the need to protect these isn’t recognised in the Assessment. 

 

The Assessment did not come before Council for endorsement prior to exhibition.  

                 

THIS IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT.  PLEASE MAKE A SUBMISSION to Macedon Ranges council by 18 November 2018 OBJECTING TO THE ASSESSMENT’S:

  1. Recommendation to delete Statement Of Planning Policy No. 8 (Clause 22.01), and
  2. Failure to address and protect the Shire’s overall landscape values, as Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 does, and
  3. Failure to recognise and address both the natural landscape values and threats to them identified in the Order making Macedon Ranges a “declared area” under the Distinctive Areas and Landscapes legislation.

For more information from Council’s website:  http://www.mrsc.vic.gov.au/Build-Plan/Planning-For-Our-Future/Shire-wide-Projects/Landscape-Assessment-Study

 

MRRA Says:

 

 This unsubtle attempt to get rid of Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 - and in a Landscape Assessment Study - is not on.  The draft Statement of Planning Policy (aka Localised Planning Statement) is another example where SPP8 is being tossed out by a government that promised to base legislative protection on it. 

 

So here we go again.  A State government trying to get rid of Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, just as the Brumby government tried in 2008..  That move backfired when MRRA's petition to keep Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 attracted 3,000 signatures (and by a change of government).  

 

Also iffy is that the Assessment relies on current planning scheme Environmental Significance overlays for environmental values (one ESO is applied to a piggery); current heritage overlays and Victorian Heritage Register listings for heritage values (hells bells, we all know most of those are still missing!), and to top it off, information from Tourism Victoria and Tourism Australia to sort out social and economic values.  If all of this is protection, we'd hate to see no protection!

 

 

CURRENT  Lightning Strikes Twice As the New Macedon Ranges "Statement of Planning Policy" Still Doesn't Make The Grade

(10/9/18 - SP)  Our hopes that the redraft of this document would set a benchmark for strong protective policy,  clear directions and transparency for any future growth haven't been met.  There's a world of difference, isn't there, between 'getting things done' and 'getting things done well'.  If we have to have it, MRRA calls for changes first.  * on 13 September, 2018, Macedon Ranges Shire Council declined to endorse the Statement, called for changes

Here's what the State government promised Macedon Ranges in 2014:

 

"Inappropriate development risks destroying the area.  Labor will legislate to protect this iconic and historic region.”

"We will use SPP No. 8 as the basis for legislative protection."

"Labor's plan for the Macedon Ranges will provide the highest level of protection possible against inappropriate development."

"Under Labor, the beauty, heritage and unique characteristics of the Macedon Ranges will be protected for good."

Here's what has happened so far:

The Distinctive Areas and Landscapes Act  Approved in May 2018, now included in the Planning and Environment Act.  Supported.

Declaration of Macedon Ranges as a Distinctive Area and Landscape  Gazetted 16 August 2018.   Supported, although its terminology at Table 1, "Attributes" and "Distinctive Features" doesn't quite align with the Act's terminology, "Distinctive Attributes", and could have been clearer.

Macedon Ranges draft Localised Planning Statement  (December, 2017)  Wrong in all ways.  A growth plan.  Not a Statement of Planning Policy.  Not based on Statement of Planning Policy No. 8.  Not acceptable.

The Macedon Ranges Statement of Planning Policy (September 2018)  Minor modifications, but the core remains as unconvincing and unacceptable as its predecessor.  Its lack of unequivocal commitment leaves no room for public confidence.  

 

HERE'S THE EMAIL ALERT MRRA SENT TO ITS NETWORKS: 

"The fatally flawed “Statement of Planning Policy” for Macedon Ranges is now available as Attachment 5 to the Special Council meeting agenda for Thursday 13th September, available from Macedon Ranges Shire Council’s website.  http://www.mrsc.vic.gov.au/About-Council/Our-Council/Meeting-Dates-Agendas-Minutes/Council-Meeting-Agendas-Minutes/Minutes-Agendas

 

The officer’s recommendation is that council receive (not endorse) the document; makes it clear the document is a creature of the State government; and makes suggestions for some changes.  These include requesting Ministerial Guidelines to give direction on how the Statement is to be implemented, because despite recommendations and requirements that the document itself include this fundamental component, it doesn’t.

 

Minor changes since January simply reshuffle the deckchairs.  The gross deficiencies of the original Localised Planning Statement (now re-badged as a Statement of Planning Policy) remain.  It’s still a growth plan, it still doesn’t implement the recommendations of the Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee, and – unbelievably – still doesn’t connect with or implement the Distinctive Areas and Landscapes legislation.

 

So, other than temporarily moving the settlement boundary back to the existing town boundary at Woodend, nothing you or apparently councillors or officers have said has made any difference.  The outcome had already been decided.

 

The new “Statement of Planning Policy”:

This disgraceful, rebadged, “Statement of Planning Policy” sets these weak, vague aspirations and a damaging growth plan in concrete as State policy for Macedon Ranges for the next 50 years, perpetuating the direction of our previous council (and apparently the State government), not the new direction taken by the new councillors.

 

It’s NOT protection in any guise.  It takes Macedon Ranges in the opposite direction to protection and Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 (our existing Statement of Planning Policy), and will have a catastrophic effect on the Shire and its values.  It could only be considered an “improvement” over the January Localised Planning Statement if going from bottom of the class to equal bottom is considered an improvement.

 

Please email your support and encouragement to Macedon Ranges Councillors to not endorse this Statement, and/or attend the special council meeting at Gisborne Shire Offices next Thursday, 7.00pm.

atwaits@mrsc.vic.gov.au;   bwest@mrsc.vic.gov.au;   hradnedge@mrsc.vic.gov.auhbleeck@mrsc.vic.gov.aujpearce@mrsc.vic.gov.aujanderson@mrsc.vic.gov.au; mmees@mrsc.vic.gov.aungayfer@mrsc.vic.gov.aurjukes@mrsc.vic.gov.au;

 

And let this be a lesson and warning to any other areas in Victoria that want to become ‘declared areas’. "

 

MRRA Says:

 

The whole premise of "protecting" Macedon Ranges turns on the legislation, declaration, and a definitive and instructive Statement of Planning Policy being aligned to form a State level basis for strengthening the Shire's planning scheme and to provide consistency and certainty about priorities and protection for statutory and strategic decisions.  Instead the Statement is weak and waffly, a growth plan, based on the Shire's current incomplete and under-strength planning scheme and other documents of that ilk,  and without instructions. 

 

 It's all a long way from the Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee's recommendations (page 51 of its July 2016 report) for clarity, the precautionary principle and unambiguous directions for implementation, and the Distinctive Areas and Landscapes legislation's requirements for a Statement of Planning Policy.

 

WHERE TO FROM HERE

 

The State government will be hankering to sign off on this document ASAP, but in protection terms the Statement of Planning Policy does not deliver, and in practical terms it is unworkable.  First preference is for the Statement to be re-drafted into the Statement worthy of the name.  If not possible, MRRA feels the MRSC officer's recommendations for changes to the Statement of Planning Policy only go part of the way towards producing a document that could be effective or usable, even on an interim basis. Here are additional changes needed before approval, without which the Statement of Planning Policy will continue to be viewed as unfit-for-purpose and unacceptable. 

  1. Instead of Ministerial Guidelines (as in the officer's recommendation), provide a Macedon Ranges Particular Provision which includes specific direction and implementation measures, and gives priority to them in conflicts with any other part of the planning scheme at Clause 51 (Provisions That Only Apply To A Specific Area) as State policy.  Any changes to a particular provision would trigger an amendment process involving parliamentary endorsement, whereas changes to Ministerial Guidelines may not.
  2. Change the comment on page 6 from "The statement aims to support efforts to", to "the statement's purpose is to", and add an additional point, "ensure the importance of maintaining rural character in towns and across the declared area is recognised and prioritised as a critical component of the declared area's distinctive attributes."
  3. Move the strategy "Protect the unique rural character of towns in the declared area" from the Tourism and recreation domain to the Landscape domain.
  4. Amend the comment on page 8 to say the Statement of Planning Policy supports and is complementary to Statement of Planning Policy No 8 and Clause 22.01 of the Macedon Ranges planning scheme, and delete comments relating to SPP8 being superseded by the Victorian planning system, to ensure the existing justification in SPP8 for planning controls in the Macedon Ranges planning scheme is not lost. 
  5. Remove all investigation areas from inside settlement boundaries, and apply the Statement's requirements for boundary changes at Woodend to all towns with identified investigation areas, and make these "must be done" processes.
  6. Include existing town boundaries as permanent settlement boundaries for Gisborne and Romsey, with any future change required to meet requirements in the Act. 
  7. Remove all vague, "PPF"-style, non-committing language - "encourage" etc.  Something either is, or isn't, or will be done, or won't.
  8. At page 17, at "Policy Domains", amend the statement "in decision-making the highest priority is given to significant landscapes"... to "in all decision-making and planning processes highest priority must be given to protecting and conserving the significant and distinctive attributes..."  
  9. Delete comments about Clarkefield at page 28, these were produced concurrent with the previous council's promotion of a $40M Equine Centre in this area (and extension of servicing infrastructure for it).  Any future consideration of growth at Clarkefield must not be biased by its promotion at this level in this Statement.
  10. Remove "In The Rural Living Zone" as a reference document, and the requirement for it to be implemented at page 30.
  11. Remove the draft 2017 Macedon Ranges Visitor Economy Future Directions Policy from reference documents, and any consequential comments in the Statement arising from or attributable to it.
  12. Remove references to "features", "significant" "high value" etc and make these statements universal - protect the Shire's heritage, protect the declared area's biodiversity, etc and also refer to "distinctive attributes" instead of "attributes" to align the Statement with the Act's terminology.
  13. Correct errors in fact at page 28 in relation to the Macedon Ranges Settlement Strategy's hierarchy assigned to Kyneton - the Settlement Strategy (and Strategic Framework Plan at Clause 21.03 of the Macedon Ranges planning scheme) identifies Kyneton as "Large District Town" in 2036, not Regional Centre.  The Statement's map at page 15 also incorrectly identifies Darraweit Guim and Bullengarook as "Small Towns" when the Settlement Strategy and Strategic Framework Plan at Clause 21.03 of the Macedon Ranges planning scheme identify both as Villages in 2036.
  14.  Add a statement at page 28 recognising the Macedon Ranges Settlement Strategy's application of a "no growth" scenario to Macedon and Mount Macedon, and to the Shire's "rural balance" outside the towns.
  15. Include all drinking water catchments on Map 5 (all in the south of the Shire, some central areas, and parts of Eppalock declared catchments are missing).
  16. Make the document binding on public entities - otherwise what's the point of having it?
  17. Remove all references associated with extractive industries. 

 

CURRENT   MRRA Submission to Macedon Ranges Localised Planning Statement

(9/3/18 - SP)  We said: Here's what's wrong (mmm... everything).  Here's how to fix it.   And here are maps of the settlement boundaries the community wants: the existing town boundaries with no investigation areas or expansion of towns.  It's now or never for the government to stop being patronising, show it's not the growth-promoting ogre behind the LPS and its word is worth the paper it's written on.

The Association's submission included three Appendices, and three Attachments.   Appendices are included in the principle submission.  You can download from the links below.

 

Principle submission, including Appendix A (modifications sought to the Distinctive Areas and Landscapes Bill); Appendix B (resolution from public meeting held in Gisborne 13/2/18); and Appendix C (proposed settlement boundaries that are existing town boundaries and do not include "investigation" areas.

Appendix C: Proposed settlement boundaries (existing town boundaries)

Attachment 1:  MRRA Assessment of the Localised Planning Statement

Attachment 2:  Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 (policy)

Attachment 3:  Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 ("Implications" section)

 

MRRA Says:

Time for submissions closed last Monday (5/3/18).  Now we all wait to see if the State government has any intention of listening to the people of Macedon Ranges and honouring its commitment to protection, or if it sticks with the development industry and the massive growth agenda in the draft LPS.

 

The Association's submission set out a summary of what's wrong with the LPS, objecting to the State government's intention to transform this LPS into a new Statement of Planning Policy for Macedon Ranges without further community consultation, and to any part of the LPS being put into the same sentence as the word "protection".  

 

We asked the question of how did Macedon Ranges Shire go from a hinterland area with no growth centres in 2010, to a Shire with 2 Regional growth Centres in 2017, without the community being aware this was happening, and when Macedon Ranges is a Distinctive Area and Landscape. 

 

We included requirements for the direction the LPS must take, for the Localised Planning Statement (including the requirements of the public meeting resolution in Gisborne on 13/2/18), for settlement boundaries, and for a Particular Provision planning control to be produced for Macedon Ranges so we can say what happens here. 

 

We ignored the LPS' grossly inflated and missing settlement boundaries and produced our own for all 6 towns, with existing town boundaries as settlement boundaries - NO INVESTIGATION AREAS INCLUDED.  In the process, we found a whopper of an error in the current planning scheme for Riddells Creek - seems when the Minister for Planning approved Amendment C100 last year, he approved the investigation area south of the railway being put inside Riddell's town boundary.  Eww!  Now, that's an error that doesn't have a good look about it and needs to be corrected ASAP.

 

We also included a quote from the then Minister for Planning who introduced Statement of Planning Policy No 8 in 1975, asking why this LPS isn't saying the same thing:

 

"Any area as attractive as this looks like a great opportunity for the speculator and land developer.  Some development is both necessary and welcome, but anyone who is looking for a "fast buck" or to carve up the land for quick profit just because it is there, can pack his bags and get out."

 

Yet, the powers-that-be still don't seem to get (or want to get) what the community is saying.  Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas, in her speech to parliament in support of the Distinctive Areas and Landscapes Bill on 20 February said:

"And while I am aware of concern and some confusion amongst some members of my community about the proposed settlement boundaries, let me be clear that this government's intention is to manage growth within our townships in a sustainable way... 

Victoria is growing.  That fact is undeniable and unstoppable.  I know there are people in my community who wish it was not so, but the work this government is leading is to ensure that, where growth occurs, it does so in a planned and considered way."

Concerned?  Confused?  You betcha.  And very, very  unhappy.  This community was told the government was going to protect Macedon Ranges. Silly us, we thought they meant it. What do we get?  A document that suburbanises Macedon Ranges into a metropolitan urban growth area, with towns doubled in size and not even any settlement boundaries provided for Gisborne's and Romsey's secret growth.  Manage growth in a sustainable way?   Too close for us to "Delivering Melbourne's Newest Sustainable Communities", the slogan the Brumby government came up with in 2008 when it lifted Melbourne's future population to 5 million (Melbourne @ 5 Million), before transferring 43,600 hectares from the Green Wedges into Melbourne's urban growth boundary.  Seems we residents have got it all wrong, and the government's got it all right (even if they didn't ask us first).  We don't understand, some of us are whingers,  and we are all just supposed to cop it.  NEVER!

 

 

 Closing Date for Localised Planning Statement Submissions Extended Until 5th March

(19/2/18 - SP)  If you have already lodged your submission / comments, please tell 5 others that now they can too...  see https://engage.vic.gov.au/macedon-ranges-localised-planning-statement

 

UPDATE MRRA Calls PUBLIC MEETING In Response To The 'Less-Protection-Not-More' Draft Macedon Ranges Localised Planning Statement

(7/2/18 - SP)   It's a community meeting for residents from all parts of the Shire:  Tuesday 13th February, 7.30pm, Gisborne Mechanics Institute, 8A Hamilton Street, Gisborne

We can now announce that in additional to Professor Michael Buxton, Deb Dunn (local resident, planner, successfully represented objectors at two recent VCAT cases in Gisborne).  Amazing people!

 

MRRA Calls PUBLIC MEETING In Response To The 'Less-Protection-Not-More' Draft Macedon Ranges Localised Planning Statement

(29/1/18 - SP)   It's a community meeting for residents from all parts of the Shire:  Tuesday 13th February, 7.30pm, Gisborne Mechanics Institute, 8A Hamilton Street, Gisborne

MRRA has called a public meeting in response to growing community concerns with the Localised Planning Statement, and the accelerated urban growth path it sets Macedon Ranges on for the next 50 years.   Professor Michael Buxton is a guest speaker (professor of Environment and Planning at the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University). 

 

See meeting flyers:  A4 version   A5 version   PS  Would be great if you can email them to your friends and local networks, or print a few off and hand them around in your area!

 

 MRRA 's assessment is that LPS falls over on every front:

Regardless of where you live in the Macedon Ranges Shire, you will be affected by this LPS.  MRRA's public meeting on Tuesday 13 February provides an opportunity for Shire residents to send a clear message to Spring Street that the Localised Planning Statement, and the future it sets out for Macedon Ranges, is NOT protection, and NOT acceptable.

 

Note:  MRRA’s public meeting is additional to the focus groups being run by the Forum for Democratic Renewal immediately after drop-in sessions at Kyneton (30th Jan), Woodend (6th Feb) and Romsey (8th Feb). 

 

 

MRRA Assessment Of Proposed 'Macedon Ranges' Protection:  Legislation (Tick).  Localised Planning Statement (Avoid! Avoid!) 

(11/1/18 - SP)  The proposed Localised Planning Statement is worse than the status quo.  It turns our small settlements into growth towns, diminishes heritage and environment values by singling out only State and National significance, and even removes existing policy protections from towns, rural land and environment.   Pens at the ready - submissions to State government by 19 February.  This Localised Planning Statement is not what the legislation says it should be, not what the Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee recommended, not based on Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 - and it's not the protection we were promised

  1. MRRA's Assessment Document

MRRA has prepared a full assessment of the legislation and Localised Planning Statement proposed by the State government to protect Macedon Ranges Shire.  It formally sets out information that can be used as the basis for a submission.  It includes outcomes sought, some history about protection in Macedon Ranges, an appraisal of the proposed legislation, and flaws in the Localised Planning Statement.  Appendix A provides information about towns proposed for settlement boundaries, and Appendix B consolidates the Objectives and Strategies in the LPS.  Here are links to documents the Assessment references:  Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee July 2016 Report

  1. Here's a quick summary of what's in the Assessment   What You Can Do

Background - Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 [SPP8]

In 1975, the Hamer government produced Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 [SPP8] for the area known as the Macedon Ranges and Surrounds.  As State policy, backed by legislation, this Statement made protection of Macedon Ranges' water catchments, and its role as a State-significant location for leisure activities and nature conservation, the number one priority for decisions and actions. Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 has been the basis of planning in Macedon Ranges for over 40 years. Introduction of the Planning and Environment Act in 1987 removed the Statement's legislative and State policy status. 

In 2000, when Macedon Ranges planning scheme converted to the Victoria Planning Provisions, Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 became local policy at Clause 22.1.  It didn't take long to realise that the generic Victoria Planning Provisions with Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 as local policy wasn't enough to protect Macedon Ranges.  The campaign to have Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 reinstated as State policy began.

The Promise To Protect

In 2010, the Baillieu/Napthine government promised to provide Macedon Ranges with a Localised Planning Statement, and retain Statement of Planning Policy No. 8.  In mid-2014, the Macedon Ranges Shire Council of the day produced a Localised Planning Statement that was rejected by the local community, primarily because it didn't "retain" Statement of Planning Policy No. 8. 

Later the same year, the Andrews State government stepped up and promised to protect Macedon Ranges with legislative protection based upon Statement of Planning Policy No. 8.

The Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee

In 2016, the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, appointed the Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee [MRPAC] to consult, hear submissions and prepare a report on whether and how Macedon Ranges should be protected.  The Advisory Committee found Macedon Ranges Shire warranted protection with legislation and a Localised Planning Statement.  The Committee's recommendations included its preferred Localised Planning Statement at Appendix B of its report, which included new policy added by the Committee, and policy from Statement of Planning Policy No 8.

  The Committee also recommended that any other content must contain objectives embodying the precautionary principle, and prioritise protection of the environment water catchments, and nature conservation as Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 did.

In early 2017, the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, came to Gisborne and announced he accepted all of the Advisory Committee's recommendations.  Shortly after, the newly elected Macedon Ranges Shire councillors resolved to accept, and robustly implement, the Advisory Committee's recommendations.

The New Legislation

Just before Christmas 2017, the State government introduced legislation to protect Macedon Ranges (Planning and Environment Amendment (Distinctive Areas and Landscapes) Bill).  The Bill is classy, legacy-making legislation, to be applied to areas with significant values that are under significant threat (as in Macedon Ranges), with protection of the environment at its core.   All good. 

The Localised Planning Statement [LPS]

 

LPS Ignores The Government's Promised Protection and the Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee's Recommendations

Around the same time as it introduced the new legislation, the State government also launched a Localised Planning Statement, which is on exhibition until 19 February. 

This LPS document is supposed to give effect (a) to the new legislation, (b) to the State government's promise for protection based on Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, and (c) to the Advisory Committee's recommendations.  And that's when the wheels fell off.  

Instead the LPS is incompatible with the new legislation;  the Advisory Committee's recommendations are nowhere to be seen, and there's nothing left of Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 either.   Ignoring legislation, an Advisory Committee, a Minister, and Macedon Ranges councillors isn't just appalling practice, it's a breach of faith and a broken promise for the Macedon Ranges' community.

 

LPS Is Not A Statement Of Planning Policy

The new legislation requires a Statement of Planning Policy to be prepared.  What's on offer is a Localised Planning Statement.  They aren't the same thing. 

A Statement of Planning Policy is supposed to (a) contain statements of policy, (b) set clear, high level (State) policy about land-use and development, priorities for decision-making and protection of values in Macedon Ranges, and (c) drive other policy, the planning scheme, strategies, programs and works.  We know, because we've already got a Statement of Planning Policy.

Instead the LPS is a low-brow Municipal Strategic Statement-style collection of vague "encourage" and "manage" Objectives and Strategies that are based on the other policies, a planning scheme and strategies that already aren't working for Macedon Ranges. 

This 'bottom of the barrel' Localised Planning Statement is to be the new Macedon Ranges Statement of Planning Policy - replacing Statement of Planning Policy No. 8.  

 

LPS Is A Growth Plan Locking In Growth, Not Protection

The Localised Planning Statement is protecting Macedon Ranges with... growth.  And it's much, much more growth than is already planned for.  

The 'accelerated growth' agenda being rolled out in the Localised Planning Statement is already a familiar one.  It was promoted shamelessly for several years by the previous Macedon Ranges Council, regardless of community anger and opposition.  2016 Community Satisfaction Survey results confirmed community anger and opposition when the Council of the day took a dive in satisfaction in Council direction, and population growth.

Macedon Ranges isn't - and in light of its values - shouldn't be an 'urban growth area', but someone keeps on trying to make it one.  As does this Localised Planning Statement.  We need to know who is driving it.  Is it the remnants of the previous Macedon Ranges Council?   Could it be State government?  Some residents report being told it's the State government, and Council's 2017 Gisborne Neighbourhood Character Study Survey (Question 5) asked: "The State Government has identified Gisborne for growth.  How should the increased population be accommodated?".  

Here's how it's being done. 

The new legislation provides for "settlement boundaries" to be placed around existing towns.  Take heed, because these "settlement boundaries" will become the new town boundaries, replacing the existing ones. 

The theory is that urban and rural living growth will be directed to and confined within them, to protect rural land.  If the Statement of Planning Policy required by legislation identifies these boundaries as "protected settlement boundaries", any changes to the boundaries will need to be ratified by parliament.  It's a big move, all good in principle, and if the "settlement boundaries" in the LPS matched existing town boundaries, they could be given full support. 

After all, Macedon Ranges Shire already has more than enough residential zoned land available to accommodated projected growth out to 2036, without requiring any additional land (Macedon Ranges Settlement Strategy 2011).

In practice, the new "settlement boundaries" in the Localised Planning Statement include not only existing towns but ADD hundreds and hundreds of hectares of additional land to the towns for development by including land identified for "future investigation" inside the "settlement boundaries".   This gives landowners, and development and real estate interests, an enormous benefit.  Including this un-investigated land in the "settlement boundaries" automatically signals it is to be developed, side-stepping issues of whether the land is suitable or needed, and without normal processes or community consultation. 

Together, that's around 800ha of additional rural-zoned land being placed inside "settlement boundaries" in just three existing towns. 

There's more...

The LPS doesn't include "settlement boundaries" for Gisborne and Romsey because the amount of additional growth being planned for these towns is apparently of such magnitude it will take 18 months to sort out, and only then will the new "settlement boundaries" be revealed.

Lancefield keeps its existing town boundary as its "settlement boundary", but... The Macedon Ranges Settlement Strategy said Lancefield would grow from 2,000 (2006) to 3,000 people in 2036.  The Localised Planning Statement shows 6,000 for Lancefield.  

There's more...

And lastly, the legislation says parliament only has to ratify changes to "protected settlement boundaries" which are to be identified in a Statement of Planning Policy.  'Fraid the best the LPS does is include "will be protected boundaries" as a footnote to blue rings around 6 of the Shire's settlements on its Framework Plan.  The "settlement boundaries" proposed for towns at the back of the LPS are not identified as "protected settlement boundaries" so changes to them won't need ratification by parliament. 

LPS Puts Protection Of Environment, Heritage, Township Character On The Backburner

Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee's preferred LPS said "Landscape, biodiversity, cultural heritage and township protection must be a cornerstone of policy protection for Macedon Ranges.  The conservation of the Shire's landscapes is of critical importance."  

The LPS deletes that, and instead loses concentration and drifts off into focussing on growth, infrastructure, tourism events/development, economics and industrial/commercial land supply.  They are all important matters but ones that can and should be addressed in a planning scheme, not a Statement of Planning Policy.  And it all falls terribly short of making protection natural and cultural values, and townships, a "cornerstone" of policy.

From the exhibited Localised Planning Statement, you could be forgiven for thinking there isn't much worth protecting in Macedon Ranges.  And not much is to be "protected".

If there is one matter everyone agrees on, it's that Macedon Ranges' townships and their character need stronger protection.  The LPS provides none, just "Encourage infill development that respects the townships' character" at Settlement, which only addresses growth.  Worse, loss of Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 means the policy basis for existing planning controls to maintain rural character, is also lost, leaving towns fully exposed and without protection, even more vulnerable than they are today.

  1. Summing Up

The quality of protection for Macedon Ranges will stand or fall on the quality of the Statement of Planning Policy it has. 

The Localised Planning Statement has strong, unhealthy overtones of the previous Macedon Ranges' council's 2016 submission to the Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee - that Macedon Ranges already had enough protection and didn't need any more. 

Precautionary principle?  Priority to environmental protection?  Statement of Planning Policy No. 8?  They were in the Advisory Committee’s preferred LPS, but they’re not in this one. There's no priority or policy for protection of environment, landscapes, rural land, heritage or townships in the LPS.

This Localised Planning Statement  not only doesn't provide protection, it goes further and removes existing protections.  Less protection, not more. 

The LPS is a Growth Plan that locks in growth, not protection, mirroring our previous council's 'accelerated growth and economic development' agenda - soundly rejected by the community at the 2016 election.  It prioritizes growth and economic development while relegating environment, landscapes, township character, natural resources and heritage - which are what the LPS is supposed to be prioritising and protecting - to background noise.   Macedon Ranges is better off without this Localised Planning Statement's brand of "protection".

The authorship, and oversight of preparation of, the LPS warrants investigation.

  1. Outcomes Sought

After 2 failed attempts (2017 and 2014) by the DELWP and Macedon Ranges' planning department to produce an acceptable Localised Planning Statement (2014 and 2017) commensurate with and retaining Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, the Association has lost confidence with the process and instead calls for the following outcomes:

  1. What You Can Do

Make a Submission

Submissions can be made by all Victorians, as well as local Macedon Ranges Shire residents.  The closing date for submissions is Monday 19 February, 2018.  Your only options are to fill in the dinky online Survey or lodge a written submission on the https://engage.vic.gov.au/macedon-ranges-localised-planning-statement website. 

Avoid the simplistic, restricted online survey.  What a dreadful thing.  Doesn't ask what you think of the settlement boundaries proposed around the towns just whether it's important having them, and you are only allowed to identify one 'dot' on the map as the thing most important to you.   Bin it.

To lodge a written submission go to https://engage.vic.gov.au/macedon-ranges-localised-planning-statement and scroll down, through the online Survey, and near the bottom of the page you will find the heading "Upload a Submission", where you can attach a file and submit it.

You can use information on this page for your submission, or MRRA's Assessment but the bottom line is that this Localised Planning Statement is:

not what the legislation says it should be,
not what the Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee recommended,
not based on Statement of Planning Policy No. 8,
not the protection we were promised, and
not acceptable in any regard.

Pass This Message On:  Share, Share

Fire up! 

Here's the link to this page. http://www.mrra.asn.au/archive1/arc1-snts/andrews-govt/2017-macedon-ranges-protection-bulletin.html  Please pass it on to groups you may be a member of, environment and heritage groups external to Macedon Ranges, friends, contacts and family.  Ask them to please make short submissions too. 

Talk or send a copy of your submission to local Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas (Mary-Anne.Thomas@parliament.vic.gov.au), Minister for Planning Richard Wynne (richard.wynne@parliament.vic.gov.au) and the Macedon Ranges Mayor (janderson@mrsc.vic.gov.au).

Write to local and Melbourne papers. 

Hit social media and keep moving it on.   

Attend An Information Session

Four Information Sessions are planned.  At face value, this is good, but all start in the middle of the afternoon, around school pick-up time, and finish about the time commuters get home.  This suggests these are more of the unstructured wander-in-and-find-someone-to-talk-to consultations that many residents are already dissatisfied with.  Public meetings with a presentation and questions, starting (not finishing) at 7.30pm, would have been of more help.

 

Town and Venue

Date and time

 

Kyneton Mechanics Institute, 81 Mollison St, Kyneton VIC 3444

Tuesday 30 January 2018

3.00pm – 7.30pm

 

Gisborne Community Centre (Hall), 8a Hamilton Street, Gisborne 3437

Thursday 1 February 2018

3.00pm – 7.30pm

 

Romsey Community Centre (Monegeetta Room), 96-100 Main Road, Romsey 3434

Thursday 8 February 2018

3.00pm – 7.30pm

 

Woodend Community Centre (Hall, near library),  Corner of Forest and High Streets, Woodend 3442

Tuesday 6 February 2018

4.00pm – 7.30pm

 

 

Release Of Legislation and Localised Planning Statement

(23/12/17 - SP)  Here's the message MRRA has just sent to its email network:

  1. The State government has released the Planning and Environment Amendment (Distinctive Areas and Landscapes) Bill, which is the legislation the government promised to provide to protect Macedon Ranges.  The Bill will be able to be applied to other significant areas, but Macedon Ranges will be the first in Victoria to be declared a “distinctive area”.  Although there are some minor improvements that could be made, the legislation is truly landmark, and the government is to be congratulated on this work.  Go here for a copy

http://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/domino/Web_Notes/LDMS/PubPDocs.nsf/ee665e366dcb6cb0ca256da400837f6b/bf94f71fe0da7314ca2581f40078b75d!OpenDocument

  1. Ah, here comes the “but”…  the Localised Planning Statement currently on exhibition (submissions close 19 February, 2018).   Go here for a copy https://engage.vic.gov.au/macedon-ranges-localised-planning-statement

This document is part 2 of the ‘protection package’.   The legislation requires a “Statement of Planning Policy” to be prepared for a declared distinctive area, and Lord help us, that’s what this LPS will become.  And it’s intended to replace Statement of Planning Policy No. 8.

The State government promised our current Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 would be the basis for protection, but that’s not what’s in this fatally flawed LPS.   We’ve been told the councillors weren’t involved in its production, so presumably the ‘credit’ for it goes to Council’s planning department, the Victorian Planning Authority and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

This LPS is worse than the failed LPS produced by the previous council in 2014.  An acorn that grew into a blackberry bush.  A camel intended to be a horse.   It is comprehensively out-of-step with the legislation, and fails to implement the Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee’s recommendations, which were endorsed by the Minister and MRSC councillors.

The legislation wants settlement boundaries to be set around towns – well, talk about someone making hay while the sun shines! 

Gisborne and Romsey haven’t got any settlement boundaries in the LPS and won’t have for another 18 months while their current town boundaries are ballooned out to take even more growth than currently planned for. 

Woodend – – oops, doubled in size.  Yes, all 500ha of ‘future investigation’ land – including Villawood’s 300ha – is inside the new settlement boundary. 

Riddells Creek – you are going to have another 120ha south of the railway, on top of the 130ha you already got in C100 this year. 

Kyneton – council’s planning department gets its wish and another 200ha in the Kyneton South Framework Plan area goes into the settlement boundary as well.  

Lancefield’s settlement boundary is… its existing town boundary (yay!), but (there’s always a but), poor old Lancefield, which the Macedon Ranges Settlement Strategy said would grow to 3,000 people, is in the LPS as growing to 6,000. 

Macedon and Mount Macedon?  The LPS removes the 40 year embargo on new subdivision, put in place by Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, from these towns.

The LPS also brings back Part 2 of Amendment C110 – 2ha rural living subdivision at Kyneton and Romsey – even though Councillors recently abandoned it.

Protection for township character?  Oops, looks like the LPS forgot that.

Don’t hold your breath about heritage protection either – unless something’s of State or National significance, it doesn’t count.  So the LPS ‘policy’ applies to Kyneton Mechanics Institute for example, but not the locally-significant shops along township High Streets. 

Same thing with biodiversity and landscapes – the LPS confines “protection” of these to State significance or high quality.  Oh, and sorry, but biolinks are confined to those between (you got it) state-significant areas.

Precautionary principle?  Priority to environmental protection?  Statement of Planning Policy No. 8?  They were in the Advisory Committee’s preferred LPS, but they’re not in this one.

There’s a lot more, and we’ve nearly finished a preliminary assessment which we will post to our website after Christmas.  The problems with the LPS run deep (er, it’s not even a Statement of Planning Policy), and won’t be fixed by asking for a word here, and a line there, to be changed. 

Submissions are open to all Victorians, as well as local Macedon Ranges’ residents.  Our recommendation to you is to NOT make a submission on the LPS just yet, and when you do, DON’T use the simplistic ‘tick a box’ survey form on the Department’s “Engage” website, put your thoughts in your own words, and make sure you get it off your chest.  Fire up!  Talk to Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas, write to papers.

Sorry if this messes with your festive spirit, but the timing for consultation on the LPS just before Christmas isn’t right either, and we wanted to at least let you know some of the things to think about.