Tighter planning regulations will be put in place to protect the historic Macedon Ranges from over-development.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne last week declared the region a ‘distinctive area’ under the Planning and Environment Amendment Act –meaning it will be covered by the highest level of planning controls to protect its environment and cultural treasures.

The change in status follows a consultation report on the draft Macedon Ranges localised planning statement, conducted earlier this year, which received 207 written submissions and 134 online survey responses.

The controls will protect Hanging Rock, Mt Macedon, the Wombat State Forest and Mt William and the Stone Axe Quarry from urban encroachment.

Mr Wynne said that settlement boundaries around townships, including Gisborne, Kyneton, Romsey, Riddells Creek, Lancefield and Woodend, are still to be finalised to keep sprawl into natural landscapes at bay.

The boundaries, once established, can only be altered with the approval of both houses of the Victorian Parliament.

“The rich landscape of the Macedon Ranges includes some of Victoria’s most historic townships and beautiful areas and will now be protected by the highest level of planning protection,” Mr Wynne said. “We’re delighted to be protecting areas beloved by all Victorians, including the Wombat State Forest, Lerderderg State Park and Hanging Rock.

“The government will continue to work closely with community, the Macedon Ranges council, traditional owners and key stakeholders to ensure that policy reflects the community’s vision for the future of the Macedon Ranges.”

Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas told

Star Weekly it was important to recognise the “extreme state significance” of the Ranges.

“We’re protecting the charm and beauty of the Macedon Ranges from over-development for generations to come,” Ms Thomas said.

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