By Colin MacGillivray
A GROUP of Broadford residents has called for an overhaul of Mitchell Shire Council’s draft Broadford Structure Plan amid concerns it will mar the natural beauty and country atmosphere of the town.
An online petition asking council to reconsider planned high-density housing earmarked for an area south-west of Broadford as far as Jeffreys Lane had gained 485 signatures by yesterday afternoon.
The planned housing, which would roughly double the size of Broadford’s residential area in the next 20 years, is part of a draft structure plan released by council in August.
Council staff will make alterations to the draft plan based on community feedback, with a finalised plan expected to come before council later this year.
Jeffreys Lane resident Narelle Ayson said she started the petition on behalf of a group of landholders who wanted the plan overhauled.
Among the petition expresses concern that the proposed development is not in keeping with the rural landscape and country-town feel of Broadford, and encroaches on the Mount Piper Nature Conservation Reserve.
“I think it’s really pretty at the moment when you drive into Broadford from Kilmore and you can look across farmland to Mount Piper,” Ms Ayson said.
“I’d be happy to not have any development on that side of the road. On the opposite side of the road there is a large property where I would support development because it’s down low in the landscape so housing wouldn’t be so obvious.
“The plan is basically doubling the land size of town but squeezing in a lot more housing, which is not sympathetic to our rural environment. It’s not one, three or five-acre rural blocks, it’s suburban residential housing blocks.”
Ms Ayson said many of the Jeffreys Lane residents who would be affected by the development did not want to sell their properties.
“Most of the farmers along Jeffreys Lane don’t want this development, and yet our farms are still included in it. From speaking to people in Broadford, either they don’t know about this or they don’t want this for our country town,” she said.
Ms Ayson said residents also had concerns about the potential for increased rubbish dumping if development went ahead.
Council chief executive Brett Luxford said the structure plan was not yet finalised, and that all community feedback would be considered.
“Council received a wide range of submissions around the Jeffreys Lane proposed residential growth area,” he said.
“At this time, council staff are considering a range of submissions received through this process and will continue to work directly with submitters before a final report is presented to both the community and councillors.
“Before a final report is considered, council takes into account community submissions and a wide range of factors such as planning policies in place and features of the site itself.
“This is to inform the next steps. It is anticipated a final report will be presented to council in the second half of 2021.”
Ms Ayson said she understood a need for more housing in Mitchell Shire, with the population expected to boom in the next three decades, but that it should not come at the expense of the country amenity of Broadford.
“I have the utmost respect for the council staff who have prepared this structure plan, and I appreciate that it’s likely resulted from a push from the State Government, but I feel the council should be listening to the residents,” she said.
“I want to step up now and fight for Broadford, because it doesn’t have to get that big. Why can’t we have a country town where the community are country-minded folks who largely know each other?
“We don’t have the infrastructure to support that kind of growth; we don’t have big supermarkets and a hospital. Broadford doesn’t want to grow. We don’t want to be Kilmore or Seymour.”
People can view the petition at change.org/JeffreysLane.
The draft Broadford Structure Plan and associated documents can be viewed at engagingmitchellshire.com/broadford3658/widgets/206250/documents.