By Terry Tovey - Warrandyte Community Association President
50 Watery Gully Rd. Kangaroo Ground
Friends of Nillumbik Inc (FoN) objects to this application.
Friends of Nillumbik Inc. works to protect Nillumbik’s Green Wedge in the public interest, recognising that this can only be achieved through the consistent application of, and support for, planning scheme controls.
At approx. 1.8 ha, the land is less than a quarter of the minimum subdivision size for land zoned Rural Conservation Zone 3 (RCZ3). So, the environmental impact of its rural-living, rural-residential development (footprint of buildings, driveways, outdoor areas, swimming pool, waste water disposal area, and ‘defendable space’ required under the BMO) will be much more significant than if the land were the minimum 8 ha in size.
If the RCZ3 places emphasis on protecting the conservation value of the land, it’s difficult to see this application having other than an overall negative impact on this small lot with its ESO- recognised ‘Box Ironbark Forest’ mature stand of trees.
Clause 16.02-1 Rural residential development (State Policy)
State policy guides the location of rural residential development so that it doesn’t adversely impact on landscape values, native vegetation, biodiversity and habitat in rural areas. It says this development should be directed to land zoned for that purpose i.e. a Low Density Residential Zone such as currently exists at Yarrambat and to the east of Eltham; that it should be discouraged on isolated small lots in rural zones where there’s an opportunity to encourage the consolidation of these small lots.
Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS)
Nillumbik’s MSS also strongly discourages the inappropriate location of rural residential development:
21.05-2 Rural Land Use, Objective 2, 3 and 4, Strategies, seems particularly relevant to this application i.e.
“ensure land use changes do not have an adverse impact on the landscape or strategic values of the land’; and, “Limit the development of new dwellings and buildings on rural allotments below the minimum subdivision size, unless exceptional circumstances apply”.
21.05-3 Environment, Conservation & Landscape
Overview; Strategies; also seems relevant:
“Protect areas of environmental significance, by restricting land uses and development that may adversely impact on native flora and fauna”.
“Encourage the retention of vegetated areas of sufficient size that maintains the viability of faunal populations and vegetation communities and protects biodiversity and other significant environmental values”.
50 Watery Gully Rd is covered by a BMO and is at the top of a north-west facing slope, making this strategy relevant: “Restrict sensitive uses, such as dwellings, in areas of bushfire risk”.
Historical legacy of past subdivisions.
It’s estimated that Nillumbik has approximately 700 lots in its Green Wedge which are below the minimum size for the zone. The majority are undeveloped. Market forces and misplaced assumptions about the residential use of rural land, mean there is constant pressure for their development. Potentially, our Green Wedge could be transformed and much of its environmental significance lost if the rural residential development of undersized lots continues.
In the past and before their abolition, tenement controls were an effective measure to avoid overdevelopment; then Local Policy such as Clause 22.03 (now expired) was designed to address the problem pending an effective Green Wedge Management Plan solution. Regrettably our current council, despite community urging, has failed to replace 22.03 with anything equivalent. However, FoN believes the balance of Planning Scheme provisions should lead to a refusal of this application.