Ranges protected

STRENGTHENED planning controls will see the Macedon Ranges protected from over-development for years to come.

Minister for Planning Richard Wynne declared the region a distinctive area under the Planning and Environment Amendment (Distinctive Areas and Landscapes) Act 2018 on August 16, fulfilling the state government’s election promise.

The highest level of planning controls are now available to protect the rich diversity of environment and cultural treasures in our region including the iconic Hanging Rock, Mt Macedon, the Wombat State Forest and Mt William and the Stone Axe Quarry

Settlement boundaries around townships in the area, including Gisborne, Kyneton, Romsey, Riddells Creek, Lancefield and Woodend are being finalized and will ensure urban development doesn’t encroach on valued natural landscapes.

Once established, these boundaries will be subject to the same rigorous protections of Melbourne’s permanent Urban Growth Boundary – and can only be altered with the approval of both houses of the Victorian Parliament.

Over 140 people attended community sessions as part of the consultation process. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in consultation with the Macedon Ranges Shire is now finalising the Statement of Planning Policy.

A new Statement of Planning Policy will incorporate feedback, including a clear identification of the local features and areas of state significance to be protected, clear definitions of settlement boundaries, a clearer explanation of the rigorous planning and steps required to change a settlement boundary, incorporation of traditional knowledge and practices for biodiversity and land management, greater consideration for climate change and environmental risks such as bushfire and flooding, and a higher priority on protecting the region’s landscapes, environmental values, and cultural heritage.

The government will continue to work closely with community, the Macedon Ranges Shire Council, Traditional Owners and key stakeholders to ensure the policy reflects the community’s vision for the future of the Macedon Ranges.

Member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas said this will protect the charm and beauty of the Macedon Ranges for generations to come.

“Local residents know and understand this unique area better than anyone and they’ve been at the forefront of shaping the final planning statement,” she said.

“We promised to legislate and we did that. The Macedon Ranges is now a distinctive area, the Macedon Ranges is now protected.

“Planning is complicated, but what we achieved is a Victoria milestone and I’m very proud to have delivered it.”