The good news in Minister Wynne’s new Plan Melbourne Refresh is that Melbourne’s Green Wedges are safe, behind the locked-down Urban Growth Boundary that was an election pledge of the Andrews Government.
More good news is that the new plan builds on and provides much-needed detail to former Minister Guy’s original 2014 Plan Melbourne, which also committed to a permanent Urban Growth Boundary.
Let’s hope this heralds more collaborative planning and ends the practice by new governments of throwing out old, often sound policies and bringing in more development-oriented ones. Effective planning requires consistency, commitment and long-term vision.
We still need the Government to review and tighten controls on inappropriate develop-ments allowed in by the last Government’s deregulation of green wedge zones, especially the Rural Conservation Zone. Minister Wynne told us he would review the Green Wedge and Rural zones after he had reviewed the residential zones. We hope this will now be soon.
In the meantime we are battling applications like:
- A “cleanfill” application at Oaklands Junction, where a developer wants to cover good farmland and environmentally significant grassland with up 600,000 tonnes of perfectly good soil generated by wasteful development practices;
- Various communities applying to set up large urban-style residential and community developments: (a 3000-seat centre in Carrum Downs, a church in Lyndhurst with 23 metre towers and footprint twice the size of St Paul’s Cathedral, a mosque in Narre Warren North; a brewery, a private school carpark and restaurants with double the maximum number of patrons on Mornington Peninsula.
Our members are also striving to save endangered species and significant landscapes on former green wedge land rezoned by former Labor and Liberal governments in 2010 and 2012, for instance the Jacksons Creek Valley near Emu Bottom in Sunbury, Growling Grass Frogs in Merri Creek and Southern Brown Bandicoot habitat in South East Growth corridor.
Please attribute these comments to Kahn Franke, president of the Green Wedge Protection Group and the Green Wedges Coalition, 0456 701 663, Rosemary West, Green Wedges Coordinator email@example.com; 0418 554 799, or Alan Thatcher, GWC secretary, 0417 387 678 firstname.lastname@example.org; To contact delegates from other Green Wedges, see attached constituent membership list.
- Sunbury Residents Association is battling to protect the Jacksons Creek Valley
from encroaching suburban development around Victoria’s oldest homestead, Emu Bottom; Contact Trevor Dance, email@example.com; 0413822214 for more information see: https://www.change.org/p/victorian-government-save-jacksons-creek-valley sunbury?recruiter=149425465&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive
2.The need to protect the Rural Conservation Zone (RCZ):
We have particular concern about the undermining of the Rural Conservation Zone,
which covers much of the Green Wedges as well as rural land around the water catchments, high fire risk areas and most privately-owned environmentally significant land.
As part of their deregulation of the planning scheme to promote an anything goes approach, the previous government removed the “in conjunction” requirement and minimum lot sizes from the RCZ for tourist and other uses and allowed schools, trash and treasure markets and ‘innominate uses’ (ie uses not named in the planning scheme) to be approved by Council permits, where previously they were prohibited. We are disturbed that this is likely to mean:
- diminished concern for environmental conservation ( a primary purpose for Green Wedges);
- diminished protection for our drinking water catchments and conservation areas in the new urban growth areas and in the rural areas;
- diminished concern for increasing fire risk and the need for rural buffers;
- diminished concern for the substantial amount of agriculture in the RCZ in, for example, Nillumbik & Manningham Green Wedges, as well as Frankston and Casey
The Rural Conservation Zone as it stands is apparently to be opened up to all manner of urban development, allowing restaurants, residential hotels, group accommodation, rural store and motels on lots of any size outside the Green Wedges, without requiring any associated farming, wineries or other green wedge uses. We have pointed out the need to balance tourist facilities with conservation of the environmental assets that attract tourists to these areas. Why would tourists want to go bush for the weekend or to a restaurant in the country for Sunday lunch or to pick up their native plants if there is a quarry or crematorium next door not to mention mining service stations and trash & treasure markets? There is a lot of grazing and other farming in the RCZ, and as we know, farmers see this kind of urban development as a blight that impacts on their work practices and hours and will terrify the livestock as much as the tourists.
Unacceptable new development uses arising from RCZ change from prohibited to ‘permit required’ for innominate uses:
Cemetery, Crematorium; Cartage contractor’s depot; Saleyard; Veterinary Clinic
Display home (prohibited in Green Wedges under Cl 57)
Freeway Service Centre/ Service Station (both prohibited in Green Wedges under Cl 57.)
Funeral Parlour (prohibited in Green Wedges under Cl 57)
Hospital (prohibited in Green Wedges under Cl 57)
Research Centre (no conditions, except in Cl 57; cf GWZ & GWAZ require min. lot size)
Many other uses previously not allowed in the zone.
Uses where “in conjunction” ruling has been removed in RCZ (except in Green Wedges by Clause 57):
Restaurants; Residential hotels; Group accommodation
Uses changed from prohibited to permit required
Primary & secondary school
Trash and Treasure Market