A long-awaited plan to protect the Macedon Ranges from inappropriate development has been “hijacked”, according to the Macedon Ranges Residents Association.
Its secretary, Christine Pruneau, told Star Weekly the draft Macedon Ranges Localised Planning Statement had “many, many, many failings”.
Ms Pruneau said the plan was meant to prioritise the Macedon Ranges’ environment, character and landscape above development, but instead it was “just a growth plan”.
“It’s locking in growth, not protection,” she said. “It’s been hijacked.”
New legislation to provide greater protection for Victoria’s iconic areas and landscapes was introduced into Parliament in December. The Macedon Ranges is to be the first area recognised.
The Planning and Environment Amendment (Distinctive Areas and Landscapes) Bill is scheduled to be debated in Parliament early this year.
It is planned that the draft Macedon Ranges Localised Planning Statement will complement the legislation.
The draft was written by the state government with Macedon Ranges council.
Ms Pruneau said the residents association thought the plan was not in accordance with the 12 recommendations of the Macedon Ranges Protections Advisory Committee, which the state government established in 2015 to work with the community, the council and traditional owner groups on how best to protect the shire’s values and landscape.
The Woodend resident of 30 years said the association wanted as many people as possible to provide feedback on the plan.
“We are really, really keen to get the message out to as many as we can that this is not what we need,” Ms Pruneau said.
Macedon Ranges mayor Jennifer Anderson has also asked residents to share their views.
“When we were preparing our council plan [in 2016], we could see there was a strong desire among locals to ensure our towns maintain their character and that any future growth is managed appropriately,” she said.
“We’ve listened to our community and I encourage residents to take the time to review the draft statement and have their say to let us know if this is the right way forward.”
The draft Macedon Ranges Localised Planning Statement is available for viewing online at planning.vic.gov.au/policy-and-strategy/macedon-ranges-protection
Public feedback is being accepted until February 19 and will inform the final statement, which is scheduled to be released about the middle of the year.