Wednesday, April 30, 2014

C126 is go

Great news to hear that the Minister for Planning has approved Yarra Ranges Planning Scheme Amendment C126 without changing the wording submitted by council.

The journey to get to this point has been a long one and started back in May 2008 with the development of Vision2020 by Design.

Amendment C126 is an articulation of Vision2020 by Design, a document which provides guidance on desired built form outcomes across the Yarra Ranges.  C126 is a translation of Vision2020 by Design into Planning Scheme controls known as Design and Development Overlays (DDOs).

The newly approved overlays will provide design guidelines for new developments across town centres in Yarra Ranges. They are all about the built form component of new developments. The design guidelines will make it easier for potential applicants and other interested parties to understand Council’s design objectives for the future development of town centre areas.

Amendment C126 received a high level of media interest due to the inclusion of a provision that “Buildings and works that comprise drive through sales facilities are discouraged”, with this provision covering the townships of Belgrave, Kallista, Mt Dandenong, Olinda, Sassafras and Tecoma.

As part of the public exhibition process council received 73 submissions, the majority of those from community members in the Dandenong Ranges concerned about the prospect of more convenience restaurants in the hills. McDonalds also submitted to the public exhibition process, citing concerns with the DDOs around the ‘step down’ approach to building heights, the retention of buildings that contribute to the character of the town centre, the need for verandas to be designed based on established veranda design and lastly the provision to *discourage drive throughs associated with convenience restaurants (*note the final wording of this provision was changed to: buildings and works that comprise drive through sales facilities are discouraged).

It should be noted that the DDO’s give greater weight to built form outcomes and will be useful planning policy into the future, sadly we didn’t have the weight of planning scheme policy when considering the McDonalds application and could only rely on Vision2020 by Design which does not have the same status as a Design and Development Overlay.

I congratulate the Minister for approving the amendment as presented, certainly has made a lot of locals very happy and the new DDOs will be part of the many tools available when assessing built form elements in new developments across Yarra Ranges into the future. 

The next step in affording greater planning protections to the Dandenongs is the development of a Localised Planning Statement, Yarra Ranges is one of 4 councils in Victoria to have this additional policy control granted by the Minister for Planning. I’m currently in discussions with the Minister for Planning to ensure it includes the Dandenongs.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

minibeasts on show at birdsland

Yes it's that time of year again, where young and old can learn all about our local little creatures at the Minibeast Festival. It's a great way to find out more about our local environment, particularly those creatures who inhabit our waterways and provide a valuable food source for our local icon, the platypus.

Where: Birdsland Reserve, Belgrave Heights
When: Sunday 27 April, from 11am to 3pm
Food: BBQ provided by Selby Primary, vegetarians and coffee lovers catered for
Cost: Free!
Activities: Platypus walk and talk, exploring minibeasts, giant yabby lantern making for the Lantern Parade.

Thanks to Southern Dandenongs Landcare Group for coordinating and Melbourne Water and Yarra Ranges Council for support.

The Minibeast Festival is an annual favourite, at last
year's festival I was delighted to add this lemon tree to
the sustainable garden at Birdsland.
Pictured left to right: Vicki from SDLG, Gavin from Yarra
Ranges Council and me, Cr Samantha Dunn.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

reducing our carbon footprint

Yarra Ranges’ street lighting upgrade is has started with the first of approximately 7,000 existing mercury vapour and high pressure sodium type street lights across the municipality replaced with T5 fluorescent lights.

The new, more energy efficient T5 technology will use around 70% less energy producing a clearer light (closer to natural daylight), reducing glare, and giving greater uniformity of light across and along the street. The new T5 lights meet Australian Standards in regards to safety and lighting levels.

The current estimated cost of this street lighting upgrade project is $1.85 million, with $1.3 million of this funded from Council’s Carbon Management Fund. Street lighting currently costs Council $620,000 each year. The instant 70% reduction in energy use and operating cost will see the project pay for itself in around 4 years and save Council and ratepayers almost $8 million over the 20 year life of the assets.

Council is committed to reducing its annual greenhouse emissions by 30% on 2000 levels by 2020. This project will reduce our annual emissions by 2,250 tonnes, achieving 40% of our reduction target.

Installation of the new T5 streetlights will commence in the urban areas of the municipality, before extending through to the rural areas, with project completion anticipated in late June 2014.

It's been a long time in the waiting, but great to see the changeover finally happening. 

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

got a great community project idea? - the local grants expo is coming

Are you a Yarra Ranges resident or organisation with a great community project or idea?

Are you keen to learn about what local grants and funding are available and how to apply?

Then the free Local Grants Expo is for you.

When: Wednesday 30 April
Drop in from -  3pm to 8 pm
Where: at the Mooroolbark Community Centre, 125 Brice Ave, Mooroolbark
Top Tips Mini Seminars

Come in for a chat, pick up some information or catch a mini seminar and meet with local grant makers from government, business, community and the philanthropic sector.

You can get further information at 

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Saturday, April 05, 2014

samantha in the press

Yarra Ranges approves 40mt Telstra Tower for middle of Millgrove that won't provide extra coverage
Leader Newspapers
by Kimberley Seedy
26 Mar 2014

Transport key polls plank
Mail Newspapers
by Rebecca Bills
25 Mar 2014

Build approval cuts restriction
Mail Newspapers
by Kath Gannaway
25 Mar 2014

Bright side of town
Mail Newspapers
by Melissa Mehan
18 Mar 2014

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