Archive:  Gisborne Futures Project

Last Updated  18/9/20




CURRENT  Unprecedented Growth In 'Gisborne Futures'.  This Peri- Urban Town In A Protected Area Is Being Treated As If It's Part Of The Sunbury & Diggers Rest Growth Corridor.  The Result Is Ugly And Needs A Comprehensive Rethink.  Submissions close September 14

(7/9/20 - P)  There's a medium density explosion 'within walking distance' of the town centre and across half of the town (including at a State level heritage site). You'll also need to be a big fan of urban sprawl as hundreds of hectares of Gisborne's famed rural landscape setting are to be rezoned for suburban residential conversion, including north of the railway line for the first time ever.  A booming expansion of industrial land plus a suburban-style Commercial 2 zone on a town gateway, next to significant landscape feature Magnet Hill, rounds it out.    


Classic pre-COVID thinking.  The Gisborne Futures Project is anchored on and driven by promoting excessive and unprecedented growth which will dramatically change and damage characteristics residents and visitors most value about the town and its surrounds - characteristics residents assumed were protected by State legislation just a couple of years ago. 


Gisborne Futures thought about only two (high) growth scenarios, then selected the highest and added an extra 10% for good measure.  The Residential Land Demand And Supply Assessment (page 3) shows that in 2016 the town of Gisborne had 9,800 people (which excludes the huge rural areas counted to come up with the 12,000 figure often said to be Gisborne's town population).  From there, Gisborne Futures aims for 20,000 population by 2036, and for 50,000 by 2050.  The Structure Plan says the new Settlement Boundary being set in Gisborne Futures has sufficient land inside it to be capable of accommodating growth to 2050 (50,000 people).  Those figures don't yet include the additional population that would be produced as a result of Cr. Mandi Mees' 24/6/20 last minute resolution to also include the 210ha Glen Junor property inside the new Settlement Boundary for residential development.


To accommodate this growth extravaganza, Gisborne’s prized semi-rural township character, ambience and amenity is to be sacrificed to a never-before-contemplated level of infill, unit and townhouse development - as 'preferred' housing types - and in areas never before considered suitable for such suburban outcomes, while at the same time substantial areas of rural zoned land that is the backbone of Gisborne’s rural landscape setting and significant viewlines are to be sacrificed to rezoning for Sunburyesque new suburban greenfields development.


The overall Gisborne Futures concept is very “Melbourne”, very metropolitan, very business-as-usual as if everything hasn't changed in 2020, and no matter how hard you look at it, any nexus with Gisborne being a peri-urban town and located in the Macedon Ranges “protected” area is hard to find. 


Submissions on this first round of consultation close September 14th.  Find out more on Macedon Ranges Council's website:


MRRA Says:


Here are some matters to consider about Gisborne Futures:


Ownership Of The Gisborne Futures Project

The Gisborne Futures growth explosion has been hurtling towards the town since Gisborne Futures' predecessor, the Gisborne-New Gisborne Outline Development Plan was introduced into the Macedon Ranges planning scheme in 2012.  In November 2017, the Gisborne Futures Project received $220,000 'Streamlining for Growth' funding from the Victorian government (additional State assistance has been provided for the Giborne Business Park proposal as well).  If attributing blame, Gisborne Futures is as much a product of State government funding and policies as it is of Macedon Ranges Shire Council.


Exhibition Period

Thirteen documents associated with the Gisborne Futures Project are currently on exhibition (see MRSC website), ten of which are related supporting, reference or technical documents.  Details of the Gisborne Business Park are buried in the Economic and Employment Analysis.  Gisborne Futures is a major multi-layered planning exercise, an extremely deep and complex project consisting of many aspects and at times with technical information and jargon to be absorbed.  More explanation and more than 6 weeks exhibition was needed to allow residents a better chance of coming to grips with what's proposed and what's at stake. 



The Gisborne Futures Structure Plan, Neighbourhood Character Study and Urban Design Framework came before Macedon Ranges Council on 24 June, 2020.  A resolution moved and seconded respectively by South ward Councillors Mandi Mees and Andrew Twaits both endorsed Gisborne Futures for consultation and added the 210ha Glen Junor to be rezoned for residential development. Both of those Councillors are retiring at the October election.  The third South ward councillor, Helen Radnedge, did not support the Mees/Twaits resolution. Decisions about the Gisborne Futures Project will be made by the Council to be elected on 24 October 2020.



After this current exhibition and submission process ends on September 14, Council will consider submissions received and then a revised Gisborne Futures will be produced for a further exhibition and submission period.  After that, a finalized Gisborne Futures Project will again come before Council and, if approved, will then be moved forward into a planning scheme amendment, at which time a formal statutory period of consultation and submissions on the amendment will occur.



It is important for residents to make individual submissions (developers will be) at every step of the process.  Submissions need not be long, and can be submitted by email to with "Gisborne Futures submission" as the subject.  It would also be appropriate to copy submissions to all current (and future) Councillors, and Mary-Anne Thomas, State MLA member for Macedon.  You can find current email contacts here councillor and MLA email contacts


Growth & the Urban Growth Zone

Too much growth is being promoted.  Gisborne Futures is more about creating a housing market alternative for metropolitan Melbourne's population than what's right for Gisborne.     Alternative housing markets are already planned in Melbourne's Growth Areas and will soon be available in the Sunbury & Diggers Rest Growth Corridor (housing 71,000 people and creating 10,000 jobs).  There is no need or justification for the extent of either the multi-dwelling and medium density development or rezoning hundreds of hectares of existing rural zoned land for new greenfields housing proposed for Gisborne.  It's excessive.


An existing General Residential zoned area north-west of the town near Rosslynne Reservoir is being rezoned to Urban Growth Zone.  Rural land is also being rezoned to Urban Growth Zone (a zone applied in Melbourne Growth Areas) west (Ferrier Rd), north (on the Mount Macedon side of the railway line) and east (past the Industrial area) of New Gisborne.  Cr. Mandi Mees' motion of 24 June, 2020 then added another 210 hectares east of Gisborne at Glen Junor (Kilmore Road) even though this is not needed to accommodate 50,000 people in 2050.  The Glen Junor inclusion also encroaches on and compromises the buffer of rural land required to be maintained between Gisborne and Riddells Creek.  These Urban Growth Zone areas are all included within the new Gisborne Settlement Boundary, and automatically designate the land for future residential development.


Gisborne Futures does not include concepts or plans about how development would occur in these Urban Growth Zones, nor does the Neighbourhood Character Study address these areas in terms of their defining features, or future character.  The same thing happened at Riddells Creek when rural land was rezoned to Urban Growth Zone without a plan and as those residents recently learnt, applying an Urban Growth Zone without a plan already in place means developers get to decide what goes there - which at Riddells Creek is a "sustainable" 1,300 lots on 130ha.


You should be very concerned about:

  1. The very substantial extent of rural land being included at one time within the new Gisborne Settlement Boundary.  At a minimum, Glen Junor (210ha, Kilmore Road to Jacksons Creek) and land north of the railway proposed for Urban Growth Zone should be removed from within the Settlement Boundary.
  2. All of the rural land being rezoned immediately to Urban Growth Zone, signalling to developers it is available to be developed.  Even if land is included in the Settlement Boundary (between the current town boundary and the new Settlement Boundary) there is no substantive reason to rezone all of it to an Urban Growth Zone at this time. 
  3. The failure of the Gisborne Structure Plan to provide any direction for proposed Urban Growth Zone areas in terms of development standards, neighbourhood character and plans/planning controls for future development. 
  4. The Structure Plan's failure to recommend that with this level of growth a second secondary school and a hospital are necessary and must be provided (the Structure Plan at page 50 only says consider a possible need for an additional secondary school).
  5. The Structure Plan's failure to recognise Gisborne's close proximity to extensive extreme bushfire risk areas and the potential for a catastrophic fire from the south-west, west and north-west.


In order to accommodate the excessive growth that has been selected for the town, Gisborne Futures puts forward some damaging proposals and changes:


You should be very concerned about:

  1. Excessive Application of the General Residential Zone This zone is, officially, to be applied where 3 storey outcomes are wanted. Under Gisborne Futures it continues to be the dominant residential zoning within Gisborne and New Gisborne, retained over large areas, including 'outliers' remote from the town centre (for example, Morningside Estate next to the Rural Conservation zoned Golf Course, and Mulbarton Estate on the Bacchus Marsh Road gateway).  Modifications are not proposed at all to the General Residential Zone schedule in Precincts 4 and 5.  Although the Structure Plan says 3 storey development isn't preferred (except in the town centre, Precinct 3), that won't stop 3 storey development because that's what the zone is for and what the zone says can be done.
  2. Neighbourhood Residential Zone This is proposed for a relatively small proportion of the town. Other towns (Woodend, Riddells Creek and Kyneton) are almost entirely Neighbourhood Residential Zones.  This is a ‘softer’ residential zone with a 2 storey height maximum, and fewer (and smaller) non-residential uses allowed than in the General Residential Zone.  It should be the dominant zone across Gisborne. It also allows minimum subdivision sizes to be set, but none are specified in Gisborne Futures.  Alarmingly, 6 of 10 neighbourhood character sub-precincts proposed to be rezoned to Neighbourhood Residential Zone are made 'incremental change' areas with two-storey medium density development as a preferred housing type (these areas are: 1b Station Road South (next to the Marshlands), 2a Gisborne Post War Suburban (next to Daly Reserve), 2b New Gisborne Post War Suburban (Farrell Street area), 2c Morrow Road Post War Suburban (Freeway Interchange area), 4a Skyline Drive and Frith Road, and 4b Chessy Park Drive).
  3. Medium Density (units/townhouses) development and infill development  There's a big difference between having some opportunities for medium density 'diversity' where it would be appropriately close to shops and services, and where Gisborne Futures is promoting it.   Medium density is a preferred housing type across much of the town in both General Residential (3 storey) and Neighbourhood Residential (2 storey) zones.  Some of it is quite distant from the town centre, some is in highly sensitive areas (e.g. Skyline Drive where until now only single storey, single dwelling developments have been allowed).  Even in the town centre, Precinct 3 expands the areas for 3 storey medium density development from current 'preferred medium density' areas but doesn't apply Design and Development Overlay 17 to all of them.  Dual occupancy is also a preferred housing type in almost all General Residential and Neighbourhood Residential Zone areas.  Recommendations for medium density and infill development on this scale are not reconcilable with preserving Gisborne's semi-rural character or maintaining any semblance of a "village in the valley", as the Structure Plan claims. .
  4.  Macedon House  Currently zoned Rural Conservation Zone, located at a principal gateway to the town centre and on the Jacksons Creek floodplain, the best that Gisborne Futures can come up with is to rezone this historic (Heritage Victoria) and highly sensitive land to General Residential Zone and designate it for 3 storey medium density development all, apparently, in order to protect the property’s State level heritage values.  This rezoning should be abandoned.
  5. Low Density Residential Zone  Most existing Low Density Residential Zone areas are zoned that way to recognise much larger existing lots (many around 4,000sqm) with a very distinct low density character (some areas currently have 6,000sqm subdivision minimums).  It appears Gisborne Futures does not intend to specify a minimum subdivision size in the Low Density Residential Zone's schedule to protect existing sewered LDRZ properties from being further subdivided down to 2,000sqm.
  6. Incompatible residential areas included in the same neighbourhood character precincts  This can have undesirable consequences where the 'ridges and valleys' of different existing development and character are merged into the same future development standards.  Examples of mismatches include Precinct 4c (North of Kilmore Road, Sunny Acres Estate has been developed with significantly different standards than those south of Kilmore Road), and Precinct 6a which attempts to marry areas with distinctly different characteristics east and west of Station Road in the vicinity of Cherry Lane. One area of General Residential Zone, next to Precinct 6b (north of Hamilton Street near Neal Street), doesn't appear to be included in any neighbourhood character precinct at all.
  7. Frontage Setbacks are being changed in General Residential and Neighbourhood Residential zone schedules from the existing 'average of adjoining setbacks or 9 metres, whichever is the lesser', to just the average of adjoining frontages.  Some existing frontage setback requirements - 6, 10 and 12 metres - in existing Design and Development Overlays seem to be being removed.  Setbacks for corner lots aren't addressed in proposed General Residential or Neighbourhood Residential zone schedules.
  8. Current Design and Development Overlays  Several of these important existing development controls (which can include design requirements, restrictions on development density and setbacks) are proposed to be deleted, or amended.  These include existing overlays in the Skyline Drive and Frith Road (DDO3 remove/retain/review), Chessy Park (amend DDO8), Wyralla Crescent (remove DDO10), Gisborne Rise Estate (amend DDO9), and Sunny Acres and Wallaby Run (remove DDO1) areas.  The Monaghan Road (Low Density Residential) area DDO4 is also affected.

Other Matters and Other Planning Controls


Many issues can be raised about details and individual sites/areas within Gisborne Futures.  Here are some broader additional issues.

  1. Conflicts Several examples of conflicting advice have been found across the Structure Plan and Neighbourhood Character Study, creating uncertainty about what’s being proposed (e.g. Design and Development Overlay 3 (Skyline Drive and Frith Road) is variously being deleted (Character Study p8), retained (Character Study p33) and reviewed (SP p36, although here DDO3 is also incorrectly called DDO1).  These and other conflicts should have been resolved prior to exhibiting the documents.
  2. Vision  The Structure Plan's "Vision" doesn't include the environment, or Gisborne's location and role within a protected area.
  3. The Structure Plan's Objectives and Strategies  Objectives are "must", but Strategies are "should".   Objectives and Strategies are not strong enough, and should not be saying things like "Support sympathetic development" (p33, Objective 15 Strategy) or to merely "encourage" developers to include design guidelines for dwellings in new subdivisions (p18 Objective 4 Strategy). These proposed policies and controls don't come across as strong, specific or sympathetic enough to provide clear direction and certainty for protecting Gisborne's semi-rural character. For example, the Structure Plan at p36 Objective 18 Strategy only says "assess" the Jacksons Creek corridor for potential application of a Significant Landscape Overlay instead of saying "apply" the overlay.
  4. Town Centre Commercial  The Urban Design Framework is promoting (a lot of) 3 - 4 storey development in the Gisborne town centre's commercial zone.  It also thinks the at-grade car parks within the Gisborne Village Shopping Centre are sites that have "redevelopment potential in the longer term".  Semi-rural?  Village in a valley?
  5. Fences  The Neighbourhood Character Study proposes to not allow front fences in most areas of Gisborne.  Exceptions are 1.5m high fences in Precincts 1a and 1b (NRZ, New Gisborne) and the Town Centre (Precinct 3), while at Mulbarton and Morningside Estates and all seven Precinct 5 sub-precincts, fences can be 1.5 - 2 metres.
  6. Suburban  The Neighbourhood Character Study's use of the word 'suburban' in neighbourhood character precinct names confirms Gisborne Futures' theme.  This word should be changed to something like 'town' - it's Gisborne, not Sunbury.
  7. Landscapes  The Structure Plan does not include Mount Macedon and the Macedon Range (or views to them) as one of the 'landscape features important to Gisborne'.
  8. Gateways  The Melton Road and Bacchus Marsh Road approaches where they meet the edge of the Gisborne township are not identified as gateways (p35).


New Gisborne Business Park


A brain child of the previous 2012 - 2016 council and assisted by State government input, this is an example of too much really being just too much. Business Park proposals relate directly to the planned population boom in Gisborne Futures.


Gisborne does not need a new 'Vineyard Road' style Commercial 2 zone (the same zone now causing problems in Kyneton with proposals for freeway service centre / fast food outlets / large scale and 'bulky' commercial development).  Previous economic studies in Gisborne rejected large scale commercial uses in this sensitive Saunders Road location. It's close to residences, and smack bang next to the significant landscape feature of Magnet Hill.  Together with proposed concurrent extensive industrial rezoning, increased traffic triggers major changes to local roads and to private property access.


You should be very concerned about:

  1. Rezoning so much land to Industrial 3 zoning all at once.
  2. Rezoning any land along the sensitive Saunders Road frontage to Commercial 2.