Bulletin No 5 URGENT ACTION NEEDED TO AVERT DISASTER FOR THE GREEN WEDGES
Green Wedges Coalition - a vision for Melbourne
Bulletin No 5 – July 2018:
URGENT ACTION NEEDED TO AVERT DISASTER FOR THE GREEN WEDGES
This is an occasional publication to highlight issues of major importance to the future of the Green Wedges and is also posted on the our website at www.gwc.org.au
Melbourne’s Green Wedges are facing a greater threat than we have seen since 2013. All three parliamentary parties are committed to maintaining the Urban Growth Boundary, and Policy 4.5.1 of Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 is to “Strengthen protection and management of green wedge land”. And Action 72 proposes to “Review green wedge planning provisions to ensure they support Plan Melbourne outcomes for green wedges.”
But on the 28 June, when Green Wedges Coalition representatives were briefed on a review of the Green Wedges planning provisions being undertaken by a planning consultant commissioned by DELWP, we found serious consideration is being given to recommend phasing out Clause 57, the planning scheme provision that protects Metropolitan Green Wedge Land.
While the Clause 57 protections are largely duplicated in the GWZ and GWAZ, they were removed in 2013 from the Rural Conservation Zone, which covers most of the Nillumbik and Manningham Green Wedges and some of Frankston’s, and are urgently needed for the vast tracts of school, golf course and other Special Use Zoned land in all Green Wedges.
Phasing out Clause 57 is also on the Smart Planning agenda, but we hoped we had headed it off by making a strong case to retain it with Minister Wynne when we met with him in April. We are writing urgently again to the Minister expressing our concern to retain Clause 57.
In the meantime we urgently need our delegates and members to contact – if possible meet – your local MPs, especially ALP MPs and urgently impress on them the need to urgently request the Minister for Planning Richard Wynne to:
- Ensure that clause 57 is retained and not undermined, and
- Ensure that the Green Wedges Planning Review strengthens and does not undermine Green Wedge protection; and
- That no changes are proposed without inclusive and extensive community consultation with Green Wedge stakeholders.
Below is a summary of our response to DELWP after the briefing. Please follow up these points with your MPs as well as raising your local issues. If you have a Liberal MLA, please contact your ALP MLCs as well. We have also requested a meeting with the Opposition Shadow Planning Minister but so far have not been given a date. We will also seek a meeting with the Greens Planning Spokesperson.
Summary of the Green Wedges Coalition response to DELWP (5 July 2018)
Overall, we are making six main points below, bearing in mind the need to respond in time for the planning consultant to take account of it in his mid-July report. We will have a much wider range of suggestions (such as our concerns about the Sustainable Animal Industries proposals) if there is time and scope.
1. Our major concern is that the consultant wanted mainly to discuss phasing out Clause 57, which would be a disaster for Melbourne’s Green Wedges, in contravention of Government and Plan Melbourne policies. Clause 57 is a vital safety net for all of Melbourne’s Green Wedges. The five-storey, 600-unit Ryman Health “retirement village” proposed for the Melbourne Business College site in the Green Wedge at Mount Eliza is a good example of what we can expect in Rural Conservation and Special Use Zones all over the Green Wedges if Clause 57 goes. Please see attached our letter to Mornington Peninsula Shire Council asking them to close the anomaly that exempts this SUZ site from Clause 57.
2. There also needs to be a crackdown on the use by applicants of ancillary uses to justify uses that would otherwise be prohibited in the zone (or in the Green Wedge by Clause 57). For instance, the Hilltonia tourism spa application incorporated a proposal for a restaurant with 140 on a 15 ha lot in an area where the GWZ specifies a minimum subdivision size of 80 ha. On this site a restaurant would be prohibited for very good reasons which we suggest should prevent it being able to pass muster as an ancillary use. VCAT has now approved the Hilltonia application.
3. When we asked about his vision for the Green Wedges, the response was to point us to Direction 4.5 and the Policies 4.5.1 and 4.5.2 in Plan Melbourne (Pp 89-91) While we support the content of this section of Plan Melbourne, we are concerned that it does not outline a coherent vision but rather is an assemblage of valued attributes to be protected and enhanced.
There was no recognition of the fundamental importance of Policy 2.1.1 from Plan Melbourne that relates to State Government policy to maintain the Urban Growth Boundary to send a clear message about long-term development priorities for Melbourne and Victoria. Urgently we need Government to focus on two priorities in Policy 2.1.1:
- To reduce urban sprawl and
- To protect the values of the non-urban land (read Green Wedges), opportunities for productive agriculture and significant landscapes. While Policy 2.1.1 refers to housing, demand for residential development is in fact one of the greatest pressures being experienced in the Green Wedges.
The two land uses that fundamentally underpin the rural landscape that epitomizes the Green Wedges are conservation of the natural environment and broadacre soil based extensive agriculture. To accord with the purposes of the Green Wedge zones, all other land uses and development should be subordinate to these uses.
This vision for the Green Wedges will not be achieved without State Government support both in terms of strong clear and unambiguous policy directions, and technical support and incentives to landholders for conservation of the natural environment and niche soil based agricultural activates.
The State Government needs to lead and coordinate this policy and support to landholders and we are advocating for the establishment of a Green Wedges Authority to work with the 17 Green Wedge municipalities.
5. The consultant asked us how and where we expected the demand for built development to be met almost as though the urbanization of the Green Wedges was inevitable over time. We do recognize that a range of built form discretionary uses are potentially allowed subject to a planning permit, but they need to conform with the purpose of the GWZ, GWAZ and RCZ zones and we have offered a solution to that issue through the application of existing planning tools of limits on bulk and scale and with site coverage contained within a building envelope. .
6. The review has clearly been skewed towards Council planners, including a survey, laden with leading questions (i.e. leading towards more inappropriate development) and workshops with Council planners. Community stakeholders were unable to participate and the major issues raised above appear to have been given little attention.
We cannot understand why DELWP did not consider it important to invite all community stakeholders to participate in this most important review.
We appreciated the opportunity to meet with the consultant but are disappointed in the approach taken to this most important issue of planning provisions for the Green Wedges and will be urging Minister Wynne to require DELWP to undertake a much more extensive and inclusive consultation before making any decisions on such an important matter to the future of Melbourne.