Saturday, January 29, 2011

zones do matter

report from the roundtable - 25 jan

This week's council meeting had to consider an application for a house and a tennis court in a rural conservation zone in Healesville.

Councillors were divided as to whether a tennis court should be permitted.

In seconding Cr McRae's motion to construct the house but not the tennis court I spoke about the intent of the Rural Conservation Zone.

The Rural Conservation Zone is council's strongest zoning in terms of environmental conservation, the main purpose of the zone is to protect and enhance the natural environment and the biodiversity of the area, to encourage development and use of land which is consistent with sustainable land management which takes into account the conservation values and environmental sensitivity of the locality.

The DSE's practice note clearly explains the zone, it states that the Rural Conservation Zone is primarily concerned with protecting and conserving rural land for its environmental features or attributes and all uses, including a right to a dwelling, are subordinate to the environmental values of the land. So that means that the applicant doesn't even have a right to build a house on site, that's how strong the zone is.

Given the zoning of the land it was clear it shouldn't be used for a tennis court, it should be used for conservation.

Cr Chris Templer suggested that the 10/30 rule, which allows clearance of vegetation, would just about get the applicants their tennis court, however 10/30 is about clearing for bushfire prevention purposes and has nothing to do with clearing land for tennis court construction. It was enlightening to hear these views.

In my view the vote was a test of which councillors truly understood the intent of the Rural Conservation Zone and it's importance in terms of environmental conservation and protection of biodiversity.

Those for: Cr's McRae, Dunn, Avery, Cox and Cliff

Those against: Cr's Heenan, Templer, Warren and Higgins

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