Wednesday, April 24, 2013

green wedge gets carved

report from the roundtable - 23 apr

At last night’s meeting council had to consider an application for a subdivision of green wedge land in Yarra Junction.

The application was “called in” by the ward councillor, Yarra Ranges Mayor Cr Child. This means that rather than planning officers making the decision, councillors would need to make the decision at a full council meeting.

The site has been the subject of previous applications, with an application of resubdivision being refused by council and upheld by VCAT in 2003 and an application for a dwelling refused by council and upheld by VCAT in 2006.

The main concerns in relation to this application were that a subdivision would be contrary to the objectives of the Green Wedge Zone and rural land policies that seek to protect productive agricultural land. Officers had recommended a refusal, so the ward councillor ‘called in’ the application.

I could not support the application for subdivision. The zoning, in this case Green Wedge 4, is land reserved for broad acre farming in Yarra Ranges, to see it carved up would put at risk land put aside for this specific purpose. I was concerned that smaller lots would see the development of hobby farms/lifestyle properties which generally conflict with agriculture due to residents complaining about ‘agricultural noise’ such as bird scarers, equipment and the like.

I was concerned about the viability of this land into the future for broad acre agriculture should it be subdivided and highlighted that there was consistent support from VCAT for councils past decisions in relation to these issues.

I said it was not good orderly planning of the area and that our municipality was made up of a number of green wedge zones (1 to 6) which catered for smaller farms and more intensive farming so there is ample provision of smaller parcels of agricultural land and there was no need to subdivide this land in green wedge 4.

I talked about the primary focus of our Green Wedge Management Plan, being agriculture and how important it is to support agricultural pursuits and ensure supply of land appropriately sized.

It was a highly contested application with division amongst councillors, here are some comments that struck me (please note this is not a comprehensive account of what councillors said).

Cr Child: I’ve known the family for 3 generations, the land will be sought after and we need to look at the merits of this application….I’ve called in this application as its well within the realm of the planning scheme.

Cr Avery: The loss of agricultural land is a world wide problem and we need to protect our agricultural land.

Cr McAllister: We should avoid ‘future gazing’ when considering the application….we shouldn’t be preemptive scenario gazing about the what if, we need to look at what’s on the table.
(note from Samantha: The Planning and Environment Act is very clear on it’s intent in that the purpose the Act is to establish a framework for planning the use, development and protection of land in Victoria in the present and long-term interests of all Victorians)

Cr Cliff: We need to protect agricultural land, there’s opportunity for Yarra Ranges to be the foodbowl for Asia.

Cr Witlox: This is opening up opportunities for the future with two new landowners.

Cr Cox: The risk with the new subdivision is that they become hobby farms and they’d be ideal hobby farms.

It was clear from the debate that there was quite a division of views around the table.

Councillors in favour:
Cr’s Child, Witlox, McAllister & McCarthy

Councillors against:
Cr Dunn, Avery, Cox & Cliff

As the vote was 4/4 the vote was won on the casting vote of the Mayor, going against the usual protocols at Yarra Ranges of retaining the status quo on deadlocked votes.

Councillors absent:
Cr Callanan

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At 7:15 PM, Blogger Leadbeaterspossum said...

What a joke! Jim Child is giving favours to friends who want to make a fortune sub dividing their green wedge land ... I wonder how much he is getting in his brown paper bag?! Even the state government has announced today that there shouldn't be any further expansion of the Melbourne suburban fringe!
It was made a Green Wedge by Sir Rupert Hamer in an amazing moment of forethought... We need agricultural land not more hobby farms with tree changers!
As a rate payer in this area I would like this decision to be overturned by VCAT - is there any avenue of appeal?

At 7:16 PM, Blogger Leadbeaterspossum said...

Oh dear! What a travesty! So Jim Child thinks that because he knows the family it MUST be a good idea to cut up land in a green wedge?! Isn't that called something like 'corruption' when you give favours to your friends and family? What a total disgrace he is!


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