By Jackson Russell
A festival site in Glenaroua was unanimously approved by Mitchell Shire councillors, but with several conditions that will essentially act as a trial.
North ward councillor Rhonda Sanderson moved an alternate motion, adding two conditions to the application, reducing capacity from 5000 to 3500 patrons and placing an 18-month limit on the permit.
The application at 1755 Seymour-Tooborac Road sought approval to host three festivals each calendar year, one in March/April and two consecutive festivals in September/October, each over four days.
Exact dates were not proposed to provide flexibility around local community activities, weather and authority requirements.
The wellness-focused festivals, called Seven Sisters Festival and Union Festival, will include workshops, presentations, group discussions and classes.
Also proposed were food, craft, product and jewellery stands, a healing village and community art projects and retreat spaces.
Music will consist of a silent disco and evening concerts, with no music allowed between 11.50pm and 7am.
The sale and consumption of alcohol is not permitted at the events.
Of the 27 submissions received by council, 16 objecting and 11 in support.
While the property is under the Farming Zone, the application is considered to meet the purpose as the land will continue to be used for agricultural purposes while the festivals are not occuring and the festival promotes sustainable land management practices.
Cr Sanderson said council was happy with the conditions placed on the application.
“All seems good but we’re unsure about it because of previous experience we’ve had with festivals,” she said.
“The 18 month permit will allow at least one festival in the current climate and we’ll see how it goes after that.”
North ward councillor Fiona Stevens said there was nothing to stop the festivals being held in Farming Zone land.
“We’ll give the applicant 18 months to run their business. This is to give confidence to the community that we’re doing the best we can in the situation that we’re presented with,” she said.