Archive:  State Level Protection:  Andrews Labor Government

Last Updated  14/11/18


See also Macedon Ranges Protection Bulletin 2018


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  (14/11/18 - P)  Plenty Of Questions Still Remain About The Future Of Hanging Rock And The East Paddock


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.  



  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:


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.


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.




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.


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.;;;;


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.




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 a 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!





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  Protection Bulletin


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). 



CURRENT  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.   Protection Bulletin


See also:

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


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 (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!OpenDocument
  2. Ah, here comes the “but”…  the Localised Planning Statement currently on exhibition (submissions close 19 February, 2018).   Go here for a copy

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.


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


*  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. 



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  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.


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.



"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.