Management of significant landscapes across the Macedon Ranges

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We would like your feedback on the findings of the draft Landscape Assessment Study, which identifies landscapes of significance, and proposes new controls and changes to existing controls in the Macedon Ranges Planning Scheme.

The Macedon Ranges Shire is characterised by varying landscape types – from forests and ranges, to volcanic planes, ridges and valleys. Within these landscape types there are a range of significant landscapes, some of which take in iconic features that are recognised throughout the state and across the country.

Landscapes are formed and defined by both visual elements – such as topography, vegetation, and waterways – as well as elements that cannot be seen – such as cultural, environmental, and geological values that can be attributed to a landscape.

To ensure that significant landscapes across the shire are protected, and that development within them is properly managed, Council commenced the preparation of a Landscape Assessment Study.

The primary purpose of the study is to assess the visual significance of landscapes based on background research, community observations, and technical expertise.

Study area

The Study area includes the whole shire, excluding land within settlement boundaries.

There are two exceptions to the exclusion of land within settlement boundaries, in locations where the Significant Landscape Overlay currently applies. These include Magnet Hill in Gisborne, and Golf Course Hill in Woodend. It was determined through the study process that these two areas should be included to ensure that the overlay schedules applying to them are up to date and reflective of the boundary and significance of the landscape.

In all other settlement areas, structure planning is the most appropriate process to manage landscapes, as it allows an assessment to be undertaken in the context of other detailed considerations that form part of settlement planning.

What we heard from the community

In February 2018, we asked the community to tell us which landscapes were most special to them, and why. A number of submissions were received, with some including photos of scenic and iconic landscapes and views across the Shire. These submissions were an important input into a broader landscape significance assessment, which is explained below.  

An assessment of landscapes and views across the study area was undertaken by consultants to determine which landscapes are of most significance, and to identify where policy gaps currently exist in their conservation and management.

There were a number of inputs into the landscape significance assessment including:

  • Submissions made by the community during the initial stage of consultation
  • Information provided by a technical reference group, made up of key agencies and government stakeholders
  • Data gathered during field surveys and through desktop research
  • Technical expertise of the consultant.

The landscape significance assessment has formed the basis of recommendations to apply new controls in the planning scheme.

These recommendations include the introduction of:

  • Schedules to the Significant Landscape Overlay, and the revision of existing schedules in locations where they currently apply.
  • A new local planning policy to address the management of views available from particular road corridors.
  • A new schedule to the Rural Conservation Zone to introduce additional conservation values to apply to highly valued and notable views available from the road corridors that dissect the ‘Newham Rises’ landscape area between the Macedon and Cobaw Ranges, and from the roads between Gisborne and Riddells Creek looking north.

Under the Victorian planning system, the introduction of the Significant Landscape Overlay requires a comprehensive, comparative assessment of landscapes to justify the extent of application. The supporting documents available via the links below have been prepared to meet these requirements and justify the application of the overlay.

The maps show existing overlay boundaries in green (SLO1 and SLO2), and proposed overlay boundaries in six different blue swatches – each one representing one of the following proposed schedules to the overlay:

Each of the six schedules will contain a statement of significance, a set of requirements and decision guidelines that have been tailored to the particular landscape.

If you are interested in the controls that are proposed to be applied to each area, click anywhere inside the proposed overlay boundary to find out more. 

 

After the closing date, we will review all feedback and decide whether any revisions should be made to the study and implementation recommendations.

Officers will then make a recommendation to Council about whether authorisation should be sought from the Minister for Planning to prepare and exhibit an amendment to the planning scheme, in order to make the proposed changes.

During the exhibition phase, which occurs over a four week period, anyone affected by the amendment can make a written submission expressing their opinion about the proposal. Submissions that cannot be resolved are referred to an independent planning panel for consideration.