Minister shocks councils
PLANNING could be overhauled in South Gippsland.
The future of South Gippsland Shire Council’s controversial Rural Land Use Strategy may be in question after four years of work costing several hundreds of thousands of dollars and immense community stress.
The former Korumburra saleyards site may now be suitable for a supermarket and the development of the land south of Leongatha, including shops along the South Gippsland Highway, could be impacted.
Higher homes could be built, permissible up to 12.5 metres – 3.5 metres higher than now and paving the way for neighbourhood conflict.
These possible changes may result from new planning zones released for public comment by Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy last week.
The latest changes came just a week after Mr Guy spruiked changes that appeared to have minimal impact on the rural land use strategy, and have taken councils by surprise.
Phil Stone, South Gippsland council’s director of development services, said council was still working through the changes before establishing a position.
“In many ways, there are no changes but in other ways, there are radical changes,” he said.
South Gippsland’s Rural Land Use Strategy sought to protect agricultural land from subdivision. However the proposed changes remove the need for a section 173 agreement that restricted future subdivision applications after an initial subdivision is approved in the Farming and Rural Activity zones.
“How this translates in South Gippsland is still unclear,” Mr Stone said.
Changes to the Farming Zone will permit more uses and more discretion by council on retail and commercial uses; exempt some farming related uses from a permit; and remove the prohibition on different types of accommodation.
New Rural Activity Zone rules also remove the prohibition of different types of accommodation, retail and warehouse uses, paving the way for shops in certain rural areas.
Asked if the rural land use strategy was now effectively a waste of time, Mr Stone responded: “It’s hard to tell. That’s part of the deliberations. We will probably spend a couple of hours fleshing out the details. It’s how this translates and if there is room for local schedules that have been specified for local circumstances.”
Mr Stone said the changes might impact the Business Four Zone on the highway south of Leongatha.
“It looks like there are some fairly significant changes. It could have impacts on the Southern Leongatha Outline Development Plan,” he said.
Changes to the Industrial 3 Zone exempt small-scale supermarkets and associated shops from a permit. That indicates the Korumburra saleyards could technically host a supermarket, but Mr Stone said “that would be a backwards step for retail provision in Korumburra”.
“It goes back to the principal that the more concise the business area is, the more productive it is. If we get a supermarket on the saleyards site, that would attract smaller speciality shops around it and they would probably be smaller shops from the main street, and that would have a devastating impact,” he said.
As for the impact of height limit changes, Mr Stone said “there are positive and negative impacts that remain to be seen.”
Hannah Duncan-Jones, planning and environment director at Bass Coast Shire Council, said the changes were “significant”.
“For example, if you applied for a permit for a residential hotel in the Farming Zone, you would no longer need to demonstrate that the use is in conjunction with agricultural use of the land,” she said.
“Activities such as primary produce sales could occur in the Farming Zone without a permit, provided the area utilised for the sales is not with 100 metres of a dwelling in separate ownership and the total area used for sale and display does not exceed 50 metres.”
Ms Duncan- Jones said council would consider the new zones in preparing its rural strategy.
“I expect that the minister will make a decision on the zones by the end of the year. This works well with the timing of the development of our strategy. The plan is to have the strategy adopted by Council by end of June 2013,” she said.
The proposed changes also replace the current residential zones with three new zones: the Residential Growth Zone, the General Residential Zone and the Neighbourhood Residential Zone.
The Residential Growth Zone promotes higher density development.
“A permit to build a dwelling is only required when the lot is less than 80 square metres. It also allows the height of development to be 12.5 metres which is 3.5 metres higher than the current ResCode provisions,” Ms Duncan-Jones said.
“The minister has not provided any details of how the implementation of the proposed changes will occur so it is unclear whether any land in Bass Coast would have the Residential Growth Zone applied.”
The minister will receive public submissions until September 21.
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