Plan endorsed, doubts remain

The Macedon Ranges has moved a step closer to receiving high level protection for its sensitive landscape as the first gazetted distinctive area and landscape in Victoria.
The Statement of Planning Policy was endorsed at Macedon Ranges Shire Council’s ordinary meeting last Wednesday in a 5-2 vote after it was sent back to the state government for fine-tuning in September.
Requested changes at the time included development of ministerial guidelines, a work plan and funding program. Further concern was raised around the proposed town boundaries and strength of the document.
Still dissatisfied with the revised document’s finer detail, Crs Helen Radnedge and Jennifer Anderson declined to offer endorsement last week and were prepared to risk the document lapsing if it meant “getting a better outcome”.
Cr Radnedge stood by her initial concern about the document’s strength and possibility the SPP would have “no trace of Statement of Planning Policy No. 8”, which had given the Ranges strong environmental protection since 1975.
Cr Anderson said it was concerning that town boundaries had not been set for Gisborne and Romsey, and Kyneton’s settlement boundary extended beyond the town boundary.
She said councillors shouldn’t feel threatened by the fast approaching deadline as the SPP could be brought back to Parliament “just as the Local Government Act had been”.
“If this did lapse, I’ve got no doubt that we would still be seen as a special and important area and we could work on it further to refine it to get a better outcome,” Cr Anderson said.
“I think there are some wonderful things within the SPP and the principles of what we are to look at are fantastic…but those original parts that I was opposed to back in September – they still stand.”
Cr Anderson and Radnedge were the only councillors not to endorse the document. Crs Mandi Mees and Natasha Gayfer were absent from the meeting.

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