Ian PenrosePam LawsonIan PenrosePam LawsonIan PenrosePam LawsonMark McDonaldIan PenrosePam LawsonMark McDonaldIan PenrosePam Lawson

Planning for Melbourne’s Green Wedges and Agricultural Land

(PMGWAL)

Consultation Paper, DELWP, May 2020

Deadline for submissions: 5th February, 2021

Submissions can be made online at:  https://engage.vic.gov.au/gwal

Click on the Consultation Hub to access the Consultation Paper, and the online submission forms (either long or short)

If you have time to make a long  submission you can access the Green Wedge Coalition’s guide here: GWC instructions & step by step guide

For those with time constraints, FoN provides a short submission guide below focussing mainly on green wedge protection.

Short-form submission (guide)

Once you’ve clicked on the Consultation Hub, scrolled down to the Consultation Paper for reading, scroll down to the Short-form submission and click on the button.

Following some personal details, you’ll be asked: What is your main relationship to, or interest in the project? – then we begin:

We would like to understand what it is about Melbourne's green wedges and peri-urban areas that you value most. Please select your top three of the following values in order of preference, by dragging and dropping them into the right-hand column.

Recommended response:

Environment and biodiversity features (eg coastal areas….etc)

Agriculture (eg growing food for Victorians)

Rural landscapes and open spaces (eg views of farmland…etc)

(The other desirable green wedge features depend first and foremost on protecting these three pivotal values)

Strengthening the legislative and policy framework

Refer to Section 3.1 (pages 13 - 32) of the consultation paper to read these options in full.

Do you support the proposed options for strengthening the legislative and policy framework for green wedges and agricultural land?

Recommended response:  YES

Why or why not?  

Recommended response: (in your own words if you have the time)

The protection of Green Wedges and peri-urban rural land needs to be increased, not diminished.  However, regional plans must not contradict state policy on green wedge uses and development or ministerially approved green wedge management plans.

Supporting agricultural land use

Refer to Section 3.2 (pages 33 - 50) of the consultation paper to read these options in full.

Do you support the proposed options for supporting agricultural land use in Melbourne's green wedges and peri-urban areas?

Recommended response:   YES

Why/why not?

Recommended response: 

Make mandatory a full Farm Management Plan demonstrating why a dwelling is required to undertake farming operations, otherwise consider them ‘rural residential’ and contrary to Green Wedge policy.  Contain urban uses such as dwellings and outbuildings in a building envelope of 2000m2 or 10% of the total site whichever is the lesser.  Prohibit bed and breakfast for more than 6 persons and make tourist accommodation and other discretionary uses subject to the minimum lot size and to the same ‘in conjunction” conditions as Restaurant and Function Centre.

Managing use of green wedges and peri-urban land

Refer to Section 3.3 (pages 51 - 61) of the consultation paper to read these options in full.

Do you support the proposed options for managing use of green wedge and peri-urban land?

Recommended response:  NO

Why/why not?

Recommended response: 

The four options on page 52 are contrary to the purpose of the Urban Growth Boundary as a clear delineation between urban and rural/green wedge uses.  Transitional uses fundamentally conflict with this review’s main intent and stated policy of protecting Green Wedge and peri-urban agricultural land for rural uses.  The transitional area concept would lead to the incremental loss of the green wedges’ rural values.  Primary and secondary schools and places of worship being urban uses should not be located on rural land adjacent to the UGB.

Improving the design of development in green wedges

Refer to Section 4 (pages 62 - 71) of the consultation paper to read these options in full.

Do you support the proposed options for implementing design and development guidelines?

Recommended response:  YES

Why/why not?

Recommended response: 

Strongly support the need to cap the size of built developments and prohibit those with bulk and scale of built form and infrastructure that dominates the rural landscape effectively changing the Green Wedge from a rural to an urban form.  New landscape plans and design guidelines should not be allowed to undermine stronger existing plans or Green Wedge Management Plans.

Further comments

Do you have any other comments or suggestions about the proposed planning system changes for Melbourne's green wedges and agricultural land?

Suggested comment:

The Planning Minister promised to protect Melbourne’s green wedges from inappropriate development.  Instead, the options paper threatens to undermine existing Green Wedge protections by making rural land bordering the Urban Growth Boundary a ‘transitional” area for urban uses such as schools, places of worship and re-zonings to allow a range of other urban developments – the very thing that provides encouragement to speculators and subverts green wedge values.

Don’t forget to click on the ‘submit’ button at the end.

Complete the survey below by Sunday 20th December to help inform Council's new Climate Action Plan.

 https://survey.alchemer.com/s3/5987252/Climate-Change-Action-Plan-Survey

Your response will be used to help formulate the Council's new Climate Action Plan for the next four years, so it is important that your answers reflect your concern about our changing climate, and provide as much detail as you are able, to let Council know Nillumbik residents' thoughts on this issue. Most of the survey is in a multiple choice, 'tick the box' format, and you are encouraged to tick the box which offers the strongest climate action option.

Numbers count, and a high level of response from the community will send a clear message that Nillumbik residents care about climate change, and are keen for our Council to get stuck into some strong climate action!

Why no Council VCAT action on dumping?

Spare a thought for Chapel Lane, Doreen residents with more illegal soil dumping threatening their farmland neighbourhood. With strong council action urgently needed to stop the trucks, planning spokesman Cr Clarke opts for more buck-passing rather than action at Tuesday 28th council meeting. He is supported by the mayor.

His lengthy notice of motion aimed at the government, won’t stop anything in Chapel Lane in the short term (see council agenda 28/7) It’s mostly a repeat of policy reforms already announced in last year’s letter from the minister and achieves nothing for residents and the environment. Is it just another opportunity for Cr Clarke to take a political party swipe at the government?

Council already has the power to take immediate action for Chapel Lane residents through Sec 114 and 120 of the P&E Act.  Under this legislation council can apply to VCAT for an urgent enforcement order to stop the offending land use. This should be done immediately.

Council has received reliable advice that large-scale disposal of fill (the offending land use) requires a permit even if agriculture does not.  This principle was determined by VCAT in 2016 and used by Cardinia Council to refuse a similar landfill application from the Earth Services Group in July 2019. The VCAT determination established that the large-scale disposal of fill should require a planning permit across all planning schemes.  Council only needed to examine VCAT records and consult Cardinia planners.

Mayor Egan’s believe that ESG does not need a permit is plain wrong.  Their operation at Chapel Lane is illegal because it doesn’t have the necessary permit. It can be stopped by council using its powers of enforcement.  It’s about time Council took real action to protect our Green Wedge.

Footnote: If Chapel Lane residents thought this problem would be resolved at the Ordinary Meeting of Council on  Tuesday 28th July they were sadly mistaken. Still no action planned!

After two Notices of Motion (Cr Clarke's calling on the State Government to act and Cr Perkin"s recognizing that Council CAN and should act on this), much rancorous debate and some very poor behaviour, residents will have to await a new Officer report and at least another Council meeting to find out what Council will do, if anything.

Council has given no commitment to take direct action against ESG despite clearly having the authority to shut down this operation and oblige the company to apply for a permit.