Open Space Strategy

Council is developing a new Open Space Strategy to provide strategic direction for the planning, management and delivery of public open space. 

Towns and villages in the Macedon Ranges are surrounded by significant landscapes and contain a diversity of open spaces. These have high aesthetic, conservation, biodiversity, social, economic, and cultural heritage values.

Council owns and manages over 900 hectares of open space including public parks, waterways, recreation reserves and bushland conservation reserves.

Some towns are growing, the climate is changing and new recreation trends are emerging. How we provide high quality open spaces needs to be managed equitably throughout the shire.

Strategic decisions must be made about the future of parks, sporting fields and recreation to balance the needs of the wider community with protecting the natural beauty of the shire.

The strategy will provide clear direction to Council on current and future open space requirements to service the shire’s existing and growing community.  

Project Update - August 2022

Assembly Outcomes

Community priorities championed by an Open Space Community Assembly are being reviewed for inclusion in a new Open Space Strategy for the shire.

Assembly members say collaboration with each other, the project consultants and Council’s planners throughout a complex process has been a positive experience.

The Open Space Community Assembly considered this overarching question:

“Given we have limited resources, how should we prioritise our investment in open space across the shire to ensure it aligns with the values and aspirations of our diverse and growing communities?”

Assembly members recommended five key priorities as part of Council’s strategy development and four criteria for a decision-making framework on its future investment in open space.

Top priorities

Five top priorities were backed by 87.5% of the Community Assembly, with broad support for:

  1. Protecting and enhancing biodiversity
  2. The standard of maintenance
  3. The type of open space
  4. Provision of pathways for walking and riding
  5. Physical accessibility of open space

Community criteria

The Assembly was also asked:

“What are the key factors Council should consider from a community perspective when making decisions about investment in open space”?

In response, members voted on their top four criteria to feed into the strategy’s decision-making framework, which will determine investment in open space resources. These are:

  1. How does open space deliver on the shire-wide priorities?
  2. How will MRSC support and sustain local community groups or committees of management to help design and maintain the open space, and implement the Open Space Strategy?
  3. How will the open space contribute to the adaptation and mitigation of climate
    change and the MRSC Climate Change Strategy?
  4. How will the development respond to local environmental character (pre and post settlement), town culture and identity?

Council is committed to considering the recommendations put forward by the Assembly. Empowering Assembly members to represent community views in future decision-making sets an important benchmark in strategic planning projects.

Community Assembly Reports

Next Steps

The project team will integrate the outcomes of the Community Assembly into the draft strategy, for Council to consider later this year. This will help ensure priority actions in the strategy are practical and provide clear direction to Council on current and future open space requirements.

The community will be kept informed about how the Assembly’s recommendations have informed the strategy or the reason why they have not been addressed.

Further public consultation on the draft will be conducted in the first half of 2023 before the final Open Space Strategy is refined and presented to Council for adoption.

Community Assembly

A total of 27 community members were appointed to the assembly following an open selection process independently managed by deliberative engagement specialists i.e. community.

The Assembly recruitment process had delivered a terrific mix of people of diverse ages and backgrounds, achieving a good representation of the Macedon Ranges community.

Assembly members met for deliberative sessions on 21 and 28 May 2022 to develop their understanding of the Open Space Strategy process and to set community priorities for the future of the shire’s parks, playgrounds, sporting facilities and conservation areas.

Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung elder Uncle Ringo Terrick welcomed the Assembly to  Country.  He spoke to the importance of open natural spaces as places of connection and community and inclusion of traditional owner values related to open space.

The first day focused on setting the broader context for the Open Space Strategy, providing the opportunity for the Assembly to make sense of the background information, the key issues and opportunities for Open Space, and their task for deliberation. The day concluded with the Assembly working together to set the community priorities for open space in the shire.

The second day explored seven primary townships of the Macedon Ranges Shire  in greater detail with the assembly providing feedback on primary uses of open space and what trends and developments need to be considered, and tested a number of scenarios designed to assist with decision making priorities for the strategy.

The Mayor and Councillors were invited to attend the final day’s session on 28 May 2022 to meet with participants and reinforce support for the process.

Project stages

Stage 1 - Issues and opportunities

Phase 1 - Consultation 

Community Assembly

Stage 2 - Supply and demand analysis (current stage)

Stage 3 - Draft Open Space Strategy

Phase 2 - Consultation

Stage 4 - Final Open Space Strategy

Planning Scheme Amendment

Phase 1 Consultation feedback

Phase 1 Consultation for the Open Space Strategy ran for eight weeks from 14 February to 8 April 2022.

The Macedon Ranges Open Space: Present and Future consultation paper(PDF, 2MB) was presented that explores some of the core challenges for the strategy to take on and considers how they may be addressed.

Community members shared their views in a survey and other consultation activities on future priorities and levels of service at parks and reserves.

A total of 165 people responded to the survey, telling us how they currently use open spaces and their views on investment priorities across the shire.

Community engagement activities included drop-in sessions held at Gisborne, Romsey and Kyneton, markets at Lancefield, Woodend and Riddells Creek and online webinars.

Thank you to everyone who participated or provided other feedback.

Information collected during this phase will be used to inform a strategy that responds to the needs and expectations of the Macedon Ranges community.

View closed consultation page

Our project team

Council has engaged open space consultants Xyst to undertake the Open Space Strategy.

Xyst is an open space planning consultancy that specialises in parkland and open space strategies. Council has also signed up to Xyst’s benchmarking tool, Yardstick, to gather data to measure the performance of parks and their facilities. This data will be used to inform the project.

Engagement specialists i.e.community have joined the team to recruit the Open Space Community Assembly and facilitate the deliberative engagement sessions that will help inform the plan.

Council’s Strategic Planning unit is leading the project, seeking input from an internal project team with representatives from key departments including Environment, Open Space and Recreation, Asset Management and Facilities and Operations.

Why are we doing this?

Council's existing Open Space Strategy is a 10-year plan due for an update to respond to current open space challenges and opportunities.

Council wishes to assign resources and act to where it is likely to have the biggest impact, so key part of the open space strategy development is setting clear priorities.

The new Open Space Strategy will:

  • Reinforce the benefits of parks, reserves and open spaces in achieving Council’s strategic direction towards community health and wellbeing.
  • Provide clear direction to Council on current and future open space requirements to service the shire’s existing and growing community.
  • Provide open spaces that are sustainable, engaging, and accessible for a broad range of users in the community.
  • Provide a framework for the management and delivery of open space, including priorities for investment and direction on the use of Council’s open space reserve fund.
  • Ensure adequate land, landscaping and facilities are provided for new open space areas as part of future development.
  • Provide the strategic basis for collection of open space contributions for the provision and improvement of open space.

The Open Space Strategy will determine how the Council invests in infrastructure and manages day-to-day operation of open space. These factors directly affect many local community members, park users, recreation, sporting and environmental groups and volunteers.

Next steps

The project team will integrate the outcomes of the Community Assembly into the draft strategy, for Council to consider later this year. This will help ensure priority actions in the strategy are practical and provide clear direction to Council on current and future open space requirements.

The community will be kept informed about how the Assembly’s recommendations have informed the strategy or the reason why they have not been addressed.

Further public consultation on the draft will be conducted in the first half of 2023 before the final Open Space Strategy is refined and presented to Council for adoption.

Stay informed

You can also register your details to receive regular email updates about the project.

If you have any questions or would like to arrange a one-on-one meeting with a member of the project team, contact Strategic Planning on (03) 5422 0333 or email strategicplanning@mrsc.vic.gov.au

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