Government vows to protect the ranges



A pledge to protect the Macedon Ranges from the impacts of population growth has been hailed by some, and cautioned by others.

Planning minister Richard Wynne last week vowed new legislative reforms would protect the Ranges from urban sprawl outside township boundaries and prevent urban encroachment on farm land and bush area.

The minister was responding to a report from the Macedon Ranges protection advisory committee, which he appointed to help the government strengthen planning policy that already exists to protect the Ranges.

Key reforms involve revising planning statement ‘number 8’, as it is known, which protects the landscape values of the shire, ensuring town boundaries adhere to policy, and strengthening indigenous vegetation protection controls.

Macedon Ranges Residents Association secretary Christine Pruneau, who attended a public meeting with the minister last Tuesday, said the government’s actions were a “move in the right direction”.

“We’re really pleased that the minister has maintained such a commitment to [protecting the Ranges] … but the devil will be in the detail,” Ms Pruneau said.

“We want to make sure that this thing is long-term and not flavour of the month.”

Hanging Rock Action Group spokesman Luke Spielvogel told

Star Weekly his group is pleased the shire’s localised planning statement will be revised.

“We had a lot of concerns, specifically about Hanging Rock and the context in which it sits,” Mr Spielvogel said.

“Part of the appeal for coming to this area was the rural landscape and the defined township boundaries, which meant that it didn’t have that sprawl.

“That was our key concern … we were very pleased to see that the first point of action would be to set aside [planning statement number 8] and rework it.”

Long-time Woodend resident and estate agent John Keating believes there needs to be a balance between conservation and development.

“There have been various economic flow-on benefits from having people come to these areas,” Mr Keating said. “The visual tapestry has been enhanced by trees that have been planted and a variety of physical improvements have been made on each lot as a result of people moving here.

“But I think some people who want to shut the gates don’t see the balance of everything that’s been created over the last 40 years … the situation needs balance. We’re all conservationists, but we don’t all want to be preservationists.”

Mr Wynne told last week’s public meeting that all 12 recommendations made by the committee would be implemented by the state government, the Victorian Planning Authority and the council.

“This is all about balancing the need to accommodate more population and protecting the region’s great character.”

To read the final report click here.