Bulletin 4 - November 2020
Green Wedges Coalition - A Vision for Melbourne
Bulletin No. 4 (November 2020)
This is an occasional publication to highlight issues of major importance to the future of the Green Wedges. The Bulletin is also posted on the GWC’s website at: www.gwc.org.au
1. EXCESSIVE BULK AND SCALE OF BUILT FORM AND ASSOCIATED INFRASTRUCTURE
The rural landscape of the Green Wedges is characterised by its natural environment and soil-based agriculture. These two land uses underpin the very purpose of the Green Wedge zones.
If this rural landscape is to be maintained and protected into the future then decisions of future land use and development need to complement and enhance the rural environment.
A major issue threatening the Green Wedges is the recent dramatic increase in planning permit applications being put forward and approved that have a bulk and scale of built form and associated infrastructure (e.g. access roads, car parking and the like) that dominate the rural landscape effectively changing the Green Wedges from rural to an urban form.
The underlying problem is that the planning scheme permits too many discretionary uses in the GWZ, GWAZ and RCZ that involve the construction of buildings and associated infrastructure which can conflict with the values of the Green Wedge.
In practical terms this means is that planning permits are being approved for developments in the Green Wedges that are dominated by buildings and associated infrastructure.
There is an urgent need to amend the planning scheme policy provisions to restrict the bulk and scale of buildings in the Green Wedge. The Planning Minister Richard Wynne promised to put a cap on development in the Green Wedge, and he has indicated that the Planning for Melbourne's Green Wedges and Agricultural Land options paper, to be launched for consultation in November, will do this.
The key underlying principle for the Green Wedges is that built form and associated infrastructure must be subordinate to the rural values and as Green Wedge supporters, we will need to make strong submissions to the PMGWAL consultation to ensure this happens.
The potential detrimental impacts of excessive bulk and scale of built form and associated infrastructure include: loss of rural landscape character with the extent of buildings and hard bare surfaces; impacts on agriculture with fragmentation of farms and detrimental impacts on adjoining farm properties; decline in biodiversity with loss of native vegetation communities and associated faunal habitat, and severance of wildlife corridors.
Below are examples of recent large development applications for large scale built form and associated infrastructure.
(SEE TABLE IN ATTACHED PDF FILE).
An examination of the above table illustrates a number of important factors in understanding the issue of bulk and scale of built form in the Green Wedges. For the purposes of this analysis two Case Studies are
CASE STUDY 1 – Hilltonia Hot Springs
When quoting the impact of a development, many proponents concentrate on the physical footprint of the buildings alone. And for example looking at Case Study 1 above this would give the impression that the impact of the footprint is small being only some 1.9% of the total sit area. But if you add in impervious surfaces (e.g. access roads, car parking and other facilities) it then increases to 8.1%.
Neither of these measures provides an accurate understanding of the impact of the proposed development on the rural values of the site that underpins the purpose of the Green Wedges.
The blue line in the diagram below shows the total area effectively impacted by the buildings and associated infrastructure. Although this is still an underestimate because it is for the new development and does not include existing development on the site.
(SEE ATTACHED PDF FILE TO SEE DIAGRAM OF CASETUDY 1).
Clearly the area impacted is much larger than the physical footprint as it fragments the site and effectively means that the built development is not subordinate to the rural land uses. In fact it covers about half of the site and replaces agricultural uses: an olive grove and cattle grazing, while the Bushfire Management Overlay adds to the impact on the environmentally significant Moonah Woodland on the site.
CASE STUDY 2 - RSSB Aust P/L, Place of Worship
Case Study 2 is a similar scenario.
(SEE ATTACHED PDF FILE TO VIEW DIAGRAM OF CASE STUDY 2)
The footprint of the buildings and associated infrastructure does not show the true impact of the built form on the site. The dark blue line shows the area impacted by built form and associated uses. This includes large grassed areas set aside for overflow parking.
The area shown by the dotted blue line designates the main area set aside for agriculture.
Clearly again the rural land use is subordinate to the built form and associated facilities.
Summary – death by a thousand cuts
If the trends evident in the two case studies are allowed to continue then effectively the Green Wedges will disappear and be replaced by urban development.
This would be contrary to the vision and purposes of the Green Wedges as a rural asset that is integral to the amenity and natural assets that have has made Melbourne one of the world’s most liveable cities.
For further information on this issue please contact Alan Thatcher at firstname.lastname@example.org
Green Wedges Coalition
(Incorporated as the Green Wedges Guardians Alliance Inc)
7 November 2020