Archive:  2018 - Macedon Ranges Protection BULLETIN

Posted: 23/12/17  Last Updated:  11/1/18

 

 

 

NEW  Action and Your Help Required   MRRA Assessment Of Proposed 'Macedon Ranges' Protection:  Legislation (Tick).  Localised Planning Statement (Avoid! Avoid!) 

(11/1/18 - SP)  The proposed Localised Planning Statement is worse than the status quo.  It turns our small settlements into growth towns, diminishes heritage and environment values by singling out only State and National significance, and even removes existing policy protections from towns, rural land and environment.  

Pens at the ready - submissions to State government by 19 February. 

This Localised Planning Statement is not what the legislation says it should be, not what the Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee recommended, not based on Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 - and it's not the protection we were promised

 

  1. MRRA's Assessment Document

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

The Promise To Protect

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

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

 

The Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee

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

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

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

 

The New Legislation

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

 

The Localised Planning Statement [LPS]

 

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

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

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

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

 

LPS Is Not A Statement Of Planning Policy

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

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

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

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

 

LPS Is A Growth Plan Locking In Growth, Not Protection

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

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

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

Here's how it's being done. 

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

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

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

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

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

There's more...

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

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

There's more...

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

  1. Summing Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

  1. Outcomes Sought

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

 

  1. What You Can Do

 

Make a Submission

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pass This Message On:  Share, Share

Fire up! 

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

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

Write to local and Melbourne papers. 

Hit social media and keep moving it on.

  

Attend An Information Session

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

 

Town and Venue

Date and time

 

Kyneton Mechanics Institute, 81 Mollison St, Kyneton VIC 3444

Tuesday 30 January 2018

3.00pm – 7.30pm

 

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

Thursday 1 February 2018

3.00pm – 7.30pm

 

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

Thursday 8 February 2018

3.00pm – 7.30pm

 

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

Tuesday 6 February 2018

4.00pm – 7.30pm

 

 

 

 

Release Of Legislation and Localised Planning Statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kynetonstrong> – 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.