Development concerns

By Jackson Russell

WALLAN residents have raised concerns about the impact the Draft King and Queen Street Masterplan could have on the future development of the town.

Mitchell Shire councillors voted to put the draft masterplan out for community consultation at the July council meeting for an extended period, which ends on Friday, October 9.

It affects a study area of about 80 hectares, which is bound by William Street to the north, Mittagong Creek to the east, Watson Street and an existing development to the south and Windham Street to the west.

Lauren Kathage and Millie Muhrer told the North Central Review they were concerned about how the draft masterplan would affect future planning permit applications, along with a lack of open space and community infrastructure.

Hidden Valley resident Ms Kathage said she was concerned about the possibility the masterplan could allow developers to bypass council’s usual planning permit processes.

“Do developers just submit a plan to council and council vote on it at a meeting and the community doesn’t get a say because it’s not an official development plan that’s needed?” she said.

A council statement said the draft masterplan included discretionary options for council if a planning application met the rules of the existing Development Plan Overlay.

“If endorsed by council, the masterplan may be used at council’s discretion to waive the development plan process or some requirements, provided the permit is highly consistent with the masterplan and the proposal represents a logical sequence of development,” the statement said.

“All planning permits will be advertised to the community with an opportunity to provide feedback at that time.”

There are also concerns about the availability of community infrastructure in the masterplan. According to the draft report, there is currently a shortfall of community infrastructure and limitations on the potential to augment existing facilities.

While council plans to collect $1.21 million from developers from a community infrastructure levy to improve existing facilities or build new facilities, there is no space set aside in the plan for community infrastructure.

Ms Muhrer, who lives near the masterplan area, said she was concerned about the strain population growth would put on the lack of community infrastructure.

“One segment says we’re going to expand the infrastructure, but the next step is saying that it’s at capacity. So, which one is it?” she said.

A council statement said the funds collected from the levy would be allocated to community infrastructure in Wallan.

“Council undertakes an annual budget process, which takes into account the infrastructure needs for the whole shire to meet the demands of Victoria’s fastest growing municipality,” the statement said.

Ms Kathage said she was not against developing Wallan but wanted to see it developed appropriately.

“It’s not the politics of jealousy, good luck to the landowners, they’re going to make a lot of money but they get all the profit, that’s fine, but we’re going to bear the cost of the development,” she said.