Lancefield plan endorsed – Councillors divided on ‘community opinion’

Passionate pleas for council to dump a restrictive development plan for Lancefield have ended in disappointment for some landowners.
Macedon Ranges Shire councillors endorsed a development plan overlay on three residential areas in the township in a 5-4 vote at their ordinary meeting last Wednesday.
Lancefield local Robert Green said the move had taken away third party rights, devalued property and created a future of costly burdens for affected landowners.
“I’m very disappointed that somebody has forever taken away our rights to appeal or object to a decision that can be made by developers and council on the affected land. This was our biggest battle in all of this,” Mr Green said.
Councillors had deferred their decision in March to weigh up landowners’ appeals against advice of an independent planning panel and council planners that both backed the plan.
Planning director Angela Hughes said the overlay was in response to inappropriate development proposals about three years ago that identified a gap in the planning scheme.
This was unsuccessfully challenged when Cr Jennifer Anderson called on councillors to abandon the amendment in a 4-5 vote, favouring a whole-town approach and structure plan that was yet to be detailed for Lancefield.
“We have the planning expertise to assist in getting a good outcome but we must have the community at the heart of the decisions that we make,” Cr Anderson said.
“If Lancefield really is under such developmental threat then perhaps we need to do that structure plan work sooner rather than later.”
In the past, councillors have abandoned planning scheme amendments in response to community feedback including a special use zone proposed for Macedon with a process that spanned five years.
Some councillors, however, openly stated on Wednesday they were reluctant to accept “community opinion” as a reason to “override expert advice of council planners and an independent planning panel”.
The panel had recognised the process could be costly and burdensome to landowners, and difficult to coordinate, stating a common-sense approach was needed at development approval stage.
Cr Mandi Mees said there would be gaps in planning without long-term direction around developer contributions, coordinated design and development.
“If we abandon this, then there’s absolutely no direction for Lancefield and I don’t feel that’s a responsible thing to do on behalf of the entire population of Lancefield,” she said.
Cr Henry Bleeck said the amendment was something the council “couldn’t afford not to do” while his East Ward counterparts voiced strong opinions to abandon it.
Cr Natasha Gayfer expressed concern over potential implications for residents and sought further planning tools to justify any change.
“We need a coordinated approach that will provide a long-term vision for Lancefield working, with the whole community, and we need to do this through further work,” she said.
Reflecting on the consultation process, Cr Bill West said C117 was seen as a logical step forward by council planners and the independent panel but “certainly not by a lot of affected landholders and residents”.
“I consider it is worth taking a punt and abandoning it in the hope that the betterment of Lancefield is the result…and starting again with the knowledge gained from this long and drawn out process,” he said.
Councillors to vote in favour of the Lancefield Development Plan were Crs Pearce, Bleeck, Jukes, Mees and Twaits. Those opposed were Crs Anderson, Gayfer, West and Radnedge.

One thought on “Lancefield plan endorsed – Councillors divided on ‘community opinion’

  • May 31, 2019 at 8:45 am

    The big note here is: DEVELOPERS CONTRIBUTIONS.
    In other words the council is being bought out by developers again, disgusting.


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