Rocky road for Hanging Rock

Community groups have criticised the latest proposed master plan for Hanging Rock, claiming it should be dumped in favour of a more environment-friendly strategy.

The draft Hanging Rock Master Plan Options Paper was drawn up by the Victorian government and Macedon Ranges council after community consultation, but has been met with a range of complaints.

Macedon Ranges Residents’ Association (MRRA) condemned the plan in a submission to the council, labelling it “another attempt to impose economic development priorities” on Hanging Rock.

The association has rejected the proposed master plan’s intention to “re-brand” Hanging Rock, and called for “the current master plan be set aside” and a new master plan “that has the conservation and protection of natural values as its core objective” be prepared.

Friends of Hanging Rock (FoHR) president Luke Spielvogel said the group had chosen to approach the draft options paper “with a glass half full” attitude, but was still concerned by a number of issues. “Strategic work that would typically precede a master plan has not been completed,” he said.

Mr Spielvogel said he feared the plan would result in “a roadmap to mediocrity” because the process sought to find a compromise between stakeholders, rather than “an overarching view of what’s best for Hanging Rock”.

The group has called for transparency of finances and a strategy to ensure environmental values are protected. Both FoHR and MRRA continue to call for the East Paddock to be incorporated into the Crown Reserve.

Mr Spielvogel said amalgamation had always been intended and remained FoHR’s priority.

“It was first discussed 40 years ago, promised 20 years ago, so the time has come for the council to make good,” he said.

“And the steps to do so should form part of any master plan.”

The draft Hanging Rock Master Plan Options Paper was available for comment from August 14 to September 15.

According to the council, a master plan is expected to be considered for adoption by the council in December.