Wednesday, November 23, 2011

green wedge - council wants extension from minister to consider changes to the ugb

report from the roundtable – 22 Nov
At this week’s council meeting council had to consider whether to ask the Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, for an extension to allow council more time to decide whether we wish to pursue any changes to the Urban Growth Boundary.

It was clearly a contentious issue amongst councillors with the final vote being deadlocked at 4/4, requiring the Mayor to use his casting vote to determine the decision.

Cr Warren moved the motion to support the request to the Minister for an extension of time to February, 2012 (seconded by Cr Templer).

I could not support the motion and foreshadowed an alternate motion to advise the Minister that council supports the current location of the Urban Growth Boundary. In speaking against the motion I talked about a range of reasons why Yarra Ranges should just say no now.

We know there is enough supply of industrial land in Yarra Ranges for the next 20 years, we know there is enough supply of land for dwellings to see us beyond 2031. I have concerns that we’d consider changing the urban growth boundary when the shire only has mass transit to two centres, Belgrave and Lilydale.

There is a long held strategic view going back to amalgamation of the 4 councils that make up Yarra Ranges, we were a ‘supershire’, but protected as part of Hamer’s vision to protect Green Wedge, not only for locals but for Melburnians too.

We have clear policy in place, policies that have been tested on countless occasions with our community. The long standing Regional Strategy Plan, the more recently endorsed Green Wedge Management Plan (adopted July, 2010), the near completed Housing Strategy (adopted May, 2009) all reinforce the importance of maintaining the hard line of the Urban Growth Boundary.

Our community’s aspirational document Vision 2020 also talks about the importance of maintaining the Urban Growth Boundary to maintain the protection and preservation of the Shire’s high value rural landscapes and amenity. This aspiration most recently reaffirmed in 2009.

Council shouldn’t be considering changes to policy because of the whim of a Minister. It was my view that we should stop wasting ratepayers money on this issue, we don’t need consultants to tell us what we already know, we shouldn’t be asking for an extension, we should just be saying no.

We do need to contain the Urban Growth Boundary to discourage developer speculation in the green wedge areas of the Shire. We need to prevent encroachment and fragmentation of our green wedge areas and retain future options for long term agricultural needs. We also need to retain our rural landscape character, it’s what defines Yarra Ranges, not only in terms of primary production but we have an enormous tourism sector because of our green wedge areas, it’s what makes us unique.

As a council we should stop wasting council resources on this issue. We shouldn’t be pursuing it, there is no strategic, logical reason to do so. And with that I foreshadowed an alternate motion to advise the Minister that we did not support any changes to the Urban Growth Boundary.

Councillors supporting the time extension request:
Crs Warren, Templer, Higgins and Avery

Councillors against the time extension request:
Crs Dunn, Cox, Cliff and McRae

Cr Heenan

As the votes were tied 4 for and 4 against the Mayor had to use his ‘casting’ vote and determined that council should proceed to support the time extension request. This is counter to the usual custom and practice of the casting vote which is to support the status quo.

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At 11:10 PM, Blogger Samantha Dunn said...

In an update, the Minister refused council's request for a time extension.


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