Your say…

May 29th, 2024Your say…

I want to start by acknowledging the sheer enormity of the work council staff have undertaken in the development of the draft structure plans for the entire shire.

Keep housing within the town boundary is the ‘No 1 ask

I want to start by acknowledging the sheer enormity of the work council staff have undertaken in the development of the draft structure plans for the entire shire.

And no doubt a rewarding effort for council staff if this is endorsed by councillors in the upcoming council meetings. However, the expense, effort, process, content and outcome have massively let down the community that this council supposedly serves.

I’m a resident in Daylesford’s east and it was an enormous shock to see a proposed town boundary expansion over active and exquisitely picturesque farmland be dropped like a nuclear bomb into the draft plan.

Described as a “minor” piece of land in the report, the proposition is given a whole lot of non-conclusive reasons for proposing such an expansion. As a community we will continue to interrogate this and it’s very apparent already that the town boundary is not needed to expand to accommodate understandable and projected growth requirements into the future.

I will also declare that I was one of the voluntary community engagement panellists that has been referenced continuously by council communication as being part of the backbone of “community consultation”.

This is not the case. The panels did not contribute to tactical or planning outputs, instead we were invited into well facilitated and target discussion groups that worked around vision (also not unanimously endorsed) and identifying core focus areas like housing, business and economy, urban design, environment and heritage etc.

The exaggerated use of this panel’s input is not acceptable. And as found in the council’s Wayfarer Consulting Report (June 2023) available on its website, the #1 ask of the community was to keep housing within the town boundary. Unsurprisingly, this was also articulated in the engagement panel workshops at multiple times.

It is a giant leap from these loose, yet productive panel workshops and community questionnaire to this draft plan that proposes to steal farmland from multi-generational farmers.

It is at complete odds with the council’s ‘Agricultural Land Study and Rural Settlement Strategy’ draft plan, that’s also been released, and would dismantle the townships hamlet feel pulling it eastwards (and with the traffic through the cosy streets of town) to a proposed 100+ housing estate. And not forgetting the enormous environmental oversights.

Remarkably, in the draft plan the spring and creek know as Smith’s Creek, that rises from this farmland and meanders down through Cornish Hill and into Lake Daylesford, is conveniently not listed as one of the creek/water sources that will be preserved in the draft plan. This needs a lot of explanation.

This draft plan does not serve the community or the land and to enable it to be rushed through prior to imminent council elections should not be tolerated by our community. We deserve better. Because once it’s gone, it’s gone!

My heart sinks when I see the rich soils of ‘Middleton Fields’ be trenched, but its prudent to remember that while these proposed developments generated much community protest, it was already seemingly too late. The rezoning had already been done well prior. The town boundary proposition in the east has not.

From Graeme L, Daylesford

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