Archive:  State Level Protection:  Andrews Labor Government

Last Updated  6/3/17

 

Panel Hearings Macedon Ranges Shire (2016)

Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee Members:  names and biosheet  (January, 2016)

Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee Terms of Reference (December, 2015)

MRRA "14 Point" Speech, Gisborne Community Forum, 18 November 2015

 

 

NEW  A Big Step Forward By State Government Towards Protecting All Of The Macedon Ranges Shire, But...     Click here for a pdf version of this MRRA report

(6/3/17 - SP)  Council gets to write the protection policy.  While our new group of councillors is much, much better than the previous group, the 'accelerated-growth-and-economic-development' obsessed administration hasn't changed...    

 

The Minister for Planning released the Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee's report and recommendations for protecting Macedon Ranges in mid February, at a well-attended Community Forum he hosted in Gisborne.  He has accepted the Advisory Committee's finding that the form of protection to be applied will be new 'Macedon Ranges' legislation, and a Macedon Ranges' Localised Planning Statement [LPS] (a State-level policy framework about what is important and significant in Macedon Ranges Shire, why, and the primary policy to be applied to protect it).

 

The Minister has also accepted all of the Committee’s 12 recommendations, which include setting aside Macedon Ranges Council's 2014 draft Localised Planning Statement and writing a new one; protecting the whole Shire; and identifying in the Localised Planning Statement new Settlement Boundaries around towns within which urban and rural living development will be confined. Other recommendations include strengthening planning controls for protection of landscapes, vegetation and Mount William, identifying biolinks, and meaningful consultation with Aboriginal owners and parties. 

 

The Advisory Committee found that Macedon Ranges is a "special" place in Victoria facing unique pressures from population growth and urban expansion, and that "the protections provided by Statement of Planning Policy No. 8  have been gradually eroded". (p44)   The Committee found that a form of legislative protection is warranted, and recommends legislation that requires parliament's consent to change the new Settlement Boundaries.   The policy and planning framework in Macedon Ranges Shire also needs to be strengthened.  Tellingly, the Committee  concluded Council's 2014 draft Localised Planning Statement's language was "aspirational" in nature, and the LPS did not provide sufficient guidance to ensure planning decisions will have enough of a 'protection focus', or contain sufficiently clear direction or guidance to assist planning decisions or to help planners resolve competing policy objectives.  The Advisory Committee has recommended Council's 2014 draft LPS  be set aside [the broader Macedon Ranges' community also rejected the draft LPS in 2014]. 

 

The Advisory Committee's report provides a recommended Localised Planning Statement at Appendix B, which includes Committee text changes that (amongst other things) prioritise the environment in decision-making, and bind the LPS on a range of decision-makers (including servicing and other authorities).  The Committee says Appendix B is by no means the absolute and final version - rather, changes "highlight the intent of how the Committee thinks the LPS can better achieve protections for the Macedon Ranges".   The Localised Planning Statement is to be further revised, and the Committee's report provides directions at 6.4.1 that revisions are to:

 

Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 is to be retained as a Reference Document for the Localised Planning Statement.

 

The State government is providing $70,000 to Council which will be working 'in partnership' with the Victorian Planning Authority *  and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.  The Minister said the government was hoping to have legislation before parliament by the end of 2017.   Amendments C98, C99 and C100 (Structure Plan amendments for Woodend, Kyneton and Riddells Creek respectively) are presently before the Minister for final approval.  Amendment C110 (i.e. the rural living carve-up amendment) will be considered at a later date, and against the finalised Localised Planning Statement.  

 

You can access the full Advisory Committee Report at http://www.planning.vic.gov.au/policy-and-strategy/macedon-ranges-protection

 

*  The Victorian Planning Authority has charge of, amongst other things, planning for metropolitan growth corridors (such as the Sunbury Growth Corridor).

 

 

MRRA Says:

 

Our appreciation goes to Minister Wynne, Mary-Anne Thomas, the Advisory Committee and Departmental contributors for getting protection for Macedon Ranges to this stage. 

 

However, the Association has concerns with where the process goes from here.  Recent announcements of new suburbs to be created in close proximity to Macedon Ranges Shire brings Melbourne's sprawl even closer, deepening already intense development pressures on the Shire.   Rural properties in Macedon Ranges Shire have already been advertised and sold as "land-banking opportunities".

 

In 2014 the State government recognised that in Macedon Ranges "inappropriate development risks destroying the area", and promised:

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."

 

MRRA has always said to the State government, "we will be holding you to that".

 

 

The protection being proposed is high-level, long-term, and legacy-making.  It must be excellence, and it must indeed maintain Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, provide the highest level of protection, and protect "for good".    The Advisory Committee and Minister have provided the foundation to achieve these outcomes although significant work and a great deal of expertise, commitment, care and objectivity will be required to get there.  

 

However, revision of the Localised Planning Statement has been handed back to Macedon Ranges Shire Council.  While there is a new and refreshingly different councillor group, it has only been in place for a couple of months.  Councillors rely on advice from the Council administration that produced the failed 2014 Localised Planning Statement, and appears still intent on implementing its long-held agenda:  replacing Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 with its own accelerated growth and economic development program, with environment relegated to merely being a backdrop. Consequently, potential exists for undesirable administrative influence, and this reduces confidence in the Localised Planning Statement process. 

 

The Association believes confidence would be heightened, and the councillor group would be greatly assisted, if the councillor group took charge of the project and engaged an independent, highly-experienced expert planner, to write new policy and provide councillors with sound, objective planning and policy advice. 

 

Macedon Ranges' Localised Planning Statement

 

The Committee accurately identified many of the 2014 draft Localised Planning Statement's short-comings, which primarily arose because it was mis-used as a vehicle to promote and justify the then Council’s pet projects: accelerated growth; subdivision of rural land and increased rural living development; the equine industry and equine centre; rezoning to make smaller lots for people to have horses and pursue a form of agribusiness; and large tourism development and commercial uses in rural and environmentally-sensitive areas - and this priority set remains in the draft LPS.  

 

Concurrently, the Shire's high-significance values were either not recognised or their importance was downgraded to sit as a peripheral issue, subservient to growth, rural subdivision and economic development priorities (e.g. high-significance features, attributes  and resources are reduced to "attractive", "interesting", "scenic") - and this prejudice remains in the draft LPS.  

 

These priorities and prejudices also drove the previous Council's contribution to the Loddon Mallee South Regional Growth Plan, and changes to the Macedon Ranges planning scheme by Amendment C84.  They have also permeated other policy and strategic work, for example, Environmental Management Plans, where less really is less. 

 

Some specific and broader issues relating to the protection process that are of concern to the Association include:

 

#  Assumptions that major planning documents are sound:

#  Errors, misrepresentation, and exaggerations in the draft Localised Planning Statement.  Examples include:

#  Inadequate recognition of the role and relevance of the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, the State Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act and other identified environmental and heritage significance in the Shire.

#  Insufficient recognition that the local community must be consulted, and that local values and interests are to carry equal weight as any others.

#  Over-emphasis of equine matters including two full paragraphs promoting and justifying the equine industry and equine centre in discussion of agriculture and rural land use.  The LPS also fails to distinguish that equine-related land use is a rural activity, not (productive) agriculture.

#  The former "Range and the Rock " policy area (i.e. the "immediate" surrounds of).  While the policy area is to be abandoned, the name persists in the LPS.  Both policy area and name were invented for the draft 2014 LPS by the previous council to replace the larger, long-recognised Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 - Macedon Ranges and Surrounds policy area.  Replace "Range and the Rock" with "Macedon Ranges and Surrounds" when describing significance in the Shire's central areas.

#  Inadequate description of implementation actions e.g. Implementation action:  identify and manage biolinks.  Also inadequate identification of outcomes sought.

#  Inadequate recognition of the roles and importance of townships in the Shire's overall significance, and provision of commensurate policy to justify application of strong design and development controls that prioritise protection of rural character in township development proposals.

#  Insufficient attention to public land, and no implementation requirements to review public land zoning to ensure zones reflect the land's role and function.

#  Implementation does not include review and expansion of permit triggers in Environmental Significance overlays applied to Special Water Supply Catchment.

 

Additional Matters

 

#  The form of protection proposed will maintain application of existing State policy (which often results in metropolitan policies being applied in Macedon Ranges Shire) and standard State zones and overlays.   Without specific further clarification, this situation will (continue to) create uncertainty:

Macedon Ranges' Legislation

 

Legislation is essential, and very welcome, and will be prepared after finalisation of the Localised Planning Statement.

 

The legislation proposed requires parliament's consent for expanding or creating new settlement boundaries, which are to be identified in the Localised Planning Statement (Framework Plan).

 

#  There is a lack of certainty and clarity about whether settlement boundaries are intended to be permanent boundaries.  Additional concerns include:

 

#  The Association considers it essential that Macedon Ranges' legislation also include requirements for parliamentary approval for:

 

A "Macedon Ranges" Particular Provision

 

At page 46, the Committee's report supported but stopped short of formally recommending introduction of a State-level Macedon Ranges' Particular Provision to provide additional direction for policy objectives for agricultural land.  Similar Particular Provisions already exist (Clause 57 for Green Wedges, and Clause 53 for Yarra Ranges).  The Advisory Committee champions Clause 53 as a model for Macedon Ranges. 

 

A Macedon Ranges Particular Provision would provide additional strength to protection, and is considered essential. 

 

Clause 53 is an appropriate and desirable model, adapted to Macedon Ranges' specific issues and conditions.  Critically, it includes a highly desirable statement that Clause 53 provisions prevail over other parts of a planning scheme where a conflict occurs. 

 

As Macedon Ranges-specific rural zones are not proposed to be  introduced as part of the protection process (as they were when Green Wedges were introduced), there would also be merit in including a Clause 57-style Table of Uses that provides for incompatible uses in current standard State rural zones to be restricted through prohibitions and/or limitations on scale.

 

 

This is an exciting and epoch-making time for Macedon Ranges, where some of the most important decisions in the Shire’s history are about to be made.  Those decisions will determine the Shire’s long-term future. 

 

As MRRA said above, the output of the protection process must be excellence, to satisfy community expectations and provide the highest level of protection for our towns and rural land.  Consequently, whatever is needed to fully realise that objective, must be done. 

 

 

UPDATE  Macedon Ranges Protection 'ISSUES PAPER': Submission Link

(10/3/16 - SP)  Seems submissions on the Issues Paper for protection can only be made on-line so here's the link.  Also seems there may be a few errors in the Issues Paper - if you find any please make a note of them in your submission. 

Submissions:  http://www.dtpli.vic.gov.au/planning/panels-and-committees/current-panels-and-committees/macedon-ranges-protection-advisory-committee/Submission-form

 

Macedon Ranges Needs You!  Here It Is - The Issues Paper For Protecting Macedon Ranges - Submissions Close 15 April

(9/3/16 - SP)   This is the "big" one, and your chance to say "put Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 across the whole shire."  And you'll need to say it, because Council is pressuring for its ghastly Localised Planning Statement (aka investment prospectus) and - hello? - it's in this Issues Paper as competition against SPP8.  Which leaves us to ask, "what happened to legislation based on SPP8"?

The Issues Paper is quite long, inviting you to answer specific questions, and you can also make other comments as well.   Absolutely critical that you do make a submission, though.

 

You will learn a lot from reading it before you begin to make comments, so please do take the time to get your head around it before picking up your pen!  Any questions?  Contact Elissa Bell from Planning Panels Victoria on (03) 9223 5317 or planning.panels@delwp.vic.gov.au.  Click on the link below to go to the Department's website for information and get a copy of the Issues Paper, or click here for a copy.   Submissions close 15 April, and a formal hearing is scheduled to start on 2nd May. 

  http://www.dtpli.vic.gov.au/planning/panels-and-committees/current-panels-and-committees/macedon-ranges-protection-advisory-committee

 

MRRA Says: 

It's great to have the Issues Paper out, but what a disappointment that the government has given that ghastly Localised Planning Statement such a prominent position - the promise was 'legislation based on Statement of Planning Policy No. 8', so what's going on?  Get on it - with the ghastly LPS in here, there's a risk Council is hijacking protection - again.   Tell your friends and groups they need to read the Issues Papers and make submissions.

 

 

CURRENT   Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee Members:  Names and Bio

(20/1/16 - SP)   Committee make-up has a strong environmental flavour 

The four members of the Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee are now available (apparently on the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning's website but that website isn't (hasn't been) working recently). 

 

The Advisory Committee membership is:

Brett Davis (Chair)

Sarah Carlisle

Mandy Elliott

Lisa Kendal

Click here for the full bio sheet.

 

 

CURRENT Terms of Reference for Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Panel Released

(8/1/16 - SP)   Another welcome step towards protection, but where is the government's priority for Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 to be the basis for legislation?

 

MRRA hasn't yet been able to find a media release from the Minister for Planning announcing the Terms of Reference,  or who the Advisory Committee members will be, but local Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas has made an announcement about the Terms of Reference on her Facebook page.   MRRA received a copy of the Terms of Reference on 6 January from Mary-Anne’s office on 6 January.  Download a copy from here  Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee Terms of Reference

 

The Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee reports directly to the Minister, and its role is to identify what needs to be protected, from what, and how that protection will be delivered through both legislation and planning controls, and to make recommendations to the State government by July, 2016.

 

The Terms of Reference require the Committee to first research issues considering various documents and matters, and to prepare and exhibit an Issues Paper for public submissions.  The Committee will then hold public hearings to hear from submitters.  The Terms of Reference identify MRRA as one of the organisations the Committee specifically should consult.   

  

MRRA Says:

 

Approval of the Terms of Reference and appointment of the Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee is a major and welcome step in the protection-for-Macedon-Ranges process.   

 

The Terms of Reference seem quite comprehensive, and have a strong focus on protection issues.  The Committee's purposes include providing "advice to the Minister for Planning on an appropriate policy to support changes to the legislative framework to achieve protection for the Macedon Ranges and its unique natural attributes, high environmental values and distinctive rural character and townships".  

 

All excellent, except...  we thought the "appropriate policy" would be Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, because it is in effect the basis for this legislation process.  As it was formerly State policy, is currently in the existing Macedon Ranges planning scheme, has been the basis for strategic planning here for 40 years, and continues to be recognised in policy, strategies and by planning panels, it must be the over-arching policy in the Advisory Committee's Terms of Reference. 

 

Instead Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 is one of the documents the Committee must consider, but so too are Council's damaging draft 2014 Localised Planning Statement, and the 2014 Loddon Mallee South Regional Growth Plan - the growth plan developed without community consultation which says Macedon Ranges, with Bendigo, will take most of the future growth for the entire Loddon Mallee region.  This appears to be a mistake – it’s the the tail wagging the dog!  The policies in these other documents are what Macedon Ranges needs to be protected from.

 

MRRA has alerted Mary-Anne Thomas to our concerns, and has asked the Minister to explain why Statement of Planning Policy No. 8's status as the basis for legislation has been overlooked in the Terms of Reference.   Meantime, we will assume SPP8 has over-arching priority for the upcoming Advisory Committee inquiry. 

 

CURRENT 'Protecting Macedon Ranges' Community Forum, Gisborne:  Minister For Planning Impresses With Strong Commitment To Protect

(24/11/15 - SP)  Expert Panel to be appointed, community to have its say about legislation, what it values, and protection  

Last Wednesday's Community Forum in Gisborne attracted around 120 people.  The Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, and Mary-Anne Thomas, MLA for Macedon attended.  Four local community panelists presented their views and hopes for protection (Rebecca Stockfield, Barry Mann, Christine Pruneau and Krista Patterson-Majoor).   Sophie Segafredo represented Macedon Ranges Council. 

 

The Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, advised the forum that the State government is now starting the process to protect Macedon Ranges with legislation, and it wasn't a matter of if, but how, protection would be delivered.  The Minister is now setting up Terms of Reference and an Expert Panel (expected to be completed by the end of December).  The Panel will begin public hearings starting around the end of January - at a venue in the Shire - to allow the community to have its say about what it values and wants protected.  The Expert Panel will report to the Minister.

 

The Minister, and his commitments and comments - confirmed by local MP Mary-Anne Thomas - were all well received.   All questions were directed to the Minister or Sophie Segafredo, including several questions about suspending current Structure Plan and particularly the C110 Rural Living amendments, pending the outcome of the government's Expert Panel process, with another asking if the economic beneficiaries would be analysed.   See the Minister's media release.   See MRRA Secretary Christine Pruneau's speech.

 

MRRA Says:

 

After years of community being ignored and belittled by Council, what a breath of fresh air it was having the Minister (no less) listening to and interested in what the community has to say.  A most unusual and exciting experience - people are still pinching themselves.  The forum was a resounding success, and our thanks to the Minister and Mary-Anne Thomas for organising it.  It was great to see the Minister in Gisborne, and to get such a resounding and direct commitment from, er, 'the horse's mouth', so to speak. 

 

Community speakers gave some poignant local context and insights into issues and values and shared, with the community audience, a priority and passion for protecting the environment.  On the other hand, Council's claims of extensive consultation, good planning and priority for protecting environment were not well received.  The step-too-far for Council may have been claiming the Localised Planning Statement [LPS] it prepared in 2014 protects Macedon Ranges, 'too far' because this damaging document was the catalyst for the State government's commitment to properly protect Macedon Ranges with legislation.  A poor choice for claiming environmental credibility, indeed.

 

MRRA supports requests made from the audience for current planning scheme amendments to be suspended pending completion of protection processes.  There are seven current amendments.  It is imperative these be assessed against protection for Macedon Ranges, and especially the rural living Amendment C110, which proposes changes that are completely opposite to the previous Rural Living Strategy adopted by Council in September 2008, various Panel recommendations, Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, and the government's intentions to protect Macedon Ranges.  No wonder Council is in such a rush with it.  MRRA will be asking the Minister to suspend this amendment, and we urge everyone else to as well.

 

This is a once-in-lifetime opportunity for the community to promote dramatic change in what happens here, and protect the Shire's environment.  As MRRA said in its '14 Points' speech:  "Our Council is going in a different direction, so it is up to this community to encourage and support the State government to make strong protection happen, ASAP."    Get on board, be part of making it right.  This is the most important decision in Macedon Ranges in 40 years.   Please be involved, and make sure you have your say.

 

In closing, our thanks and congratulations to Secretary Christine Pruneau, and our members, for their magnificent contributions to the Forum.   

 

State Government Is Holding A Community Forum In Macedon Ranges

(6/11/15 - SP)   It's a winner because (1) the Minister for Planning will be there, (2) it's about legislation to protect Macedon Ranges and (3) it's about community

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is organising a community forum on November 18 at Gisborne Golf Club, to get community feedback about what residents want to get from protection of Macedon Ranges.   Starts at 6.00pm, RSVP 16 November.  See the flyer for more information.

 

MRRA Says:

 

The Minister for Planning is inviting the Macedon Ranges community to have a say about what it wants to get from protection of Macedon Ranges with legislation. 

 

Try thinking of what you value about this place (what makes it special for you?), what do you think threatens it, and what needs to happen so it will still be here for your/our grandchildren to value as well?  

 

We have all waited so long for a way to safeguard the resources, values, features, environment, and beauty of this place.   This forum is a way for you to have input into the Shire's future.  Too good to miss!  Our thanks to the Minister, and Mary-Anne Thomas for this initiative.  Don't forget to RSVP by 16 November.

 

MRRA Reps Meet Minister For Planning, Richard Wynne

(27/4/15 - SP)  Minister says he can't say it any clearer:  Labor will legislate to protect this iconic and historic region.  We will use Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 as the basis for legislative protection.  That's what the government said it would do, and that's  what it will do.

On Tuesday 21 April, four MRRA representatives and Macedon MLA Mary-Anne Thomas met with Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne. 

 

MRRA requested a meeting with the Minister early last December, shortly after the State election.  Unfortunately, the Minister fell ill, and the delay pending his recovery sees planning now running 3 months behind.

 

Issues raised with the Minister included:

The Minister asked us to tell him about our Council, so we did.  Council’s inconsistent planning decisions about houses on rural land, the importance of protecting drinking water catchments, and the recent Macedon VCAT decision were raised, along with concerns about various policy changes Council is pursuing. 

 

In response to our question - when would the process to produce legislation begin - the Minister said it had not started as yet and he couldn’t give us dates at this stage.

 

He did however confirm several times that the government's commitment and intent was strong.  Its election policy for Macedon Ranges will be delivered, and he couldn’t say it any clearer – the government will legislate to protect Macedon Ranges, and Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 will be the basis for that legislation.  

 

MRRA Says:

 

Although we and many others in the Macedon Ranges' community would have liked to hear that the process to protect was about to roll out, we take on board both the Minister's commitment to deliver legislation, and that planning programs are presently delayed.  Having now ‘gone to the top’, at this stage there isn’t a lot more to be done other than accept, wait, watch, and remind. 

 

The Association thanks the Minister, his staff, and the Departmental people involved.   We also thank Mary-Anne Thomas for her support.

 

And here's a link to Macedon Ranges' Residents' Association's Facebook page, and a picture of MRRA reps with the Minister and Mary-Anne.
https://www.facebook.com/120331464721995/photos/a.837341216354346.1073741828.120331464721995/837340399687761/?l=224e99b64c

 


(1/12/14) LABOR WINS LOWER HOUSE, PLEDGING LEGISLATIVE PROTECTION FOR MACEDON RANGES.

"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."

We will be holding you to delivering that.