At the Macedon Ranges Shire Council meeting of Wednesday 28 August 2013:
a proposal PE.4 HANGING ROCK DEVELOPMENT & INVESTMENT PLAN was put forward by the Director of Planning and Environment.
This development plan involves the following:
• a Conference and Function Centre,
• a 100 Room Accommodation facility,
• a “Well Being Centre” and Day Spa,
• an unspecified number of “Creek Apartments”,
• a permanent Stage and Event structure,
• Yoga & Adventure facilities on the actual Rock.
The officer recommendation was that council :
” Resolves to seek community feedback for a period of one month, based on indicating a preference for one of three options;
a. To pursue the option of private investment based on the location, type, size and scale of tourism development identified in this report.
b. To allocate approximately $300,000 per annum from general rate revenue to support Hanging Rock for an indefinite period of time.
c. Seek to hand over all management and responsibility for the Hanging Rock Reserve to the State Government. “
However Council did not support the officer recommendation and voted 5 to 4 in favour to seek private investment for this proposed development and exclude any community consultation.
At a Special Council Meeting – Wednesday, 4 September 2013:
A rescission motion was put forward: “That the resolution of Council at the Ordinary Council Meeting on 28th August 2013 regarding the Hanging Rock Development and Investment Plan be rescinded.” Council voted 5 to 4 against the rescission motion.
Lack of Community Consultation
There has been minimal community consultation and council have ignored their own COMMUNITY CONSULTATION FRAMEWORK. Council has recently stated:
“ Why didn’t Council follow its Community Consultation Framework?
The Framework was followed in that Council has made a decision in line with the direction pursued by the Hanging Rock Development Advisory Committee – a representative group, and with other adopted strategies of the Council.
Councillors determined that only one of the possible options for the sustainable management of the Rock was suitable and therefore considered that asking the general community for an opinion on their preference would be hollow consultation.”
See Council’s INFORMATION BULLETIN #2 Hanging Rock September 2013
However the Victorian Government Directly Supports Community Consultation in the Macedon Ranges!
In February 2013 the Planning Minsister Matthew Guy issued a media release 21-02-13 announcing a grant of $ 25,000 to establish Localised Planning Statements for the Mornington Peninsula, the Yarra Valley, Macedon Ranges and the Bellarine Peninsula ensuring their valued attributes remain significant for decades to come.
The Minister stated “Each council will receive funding of $25,000 to assist in the formal community engagement and consultation process so that all voices are heard and local priorities are identified. ”
As of 14 October 2013 a representative of the Macedon Ranges Shire Council in response to a request for information from HRAG concerning progess of this process has stated ” To date there has been no consultation on this. It is planned to occur once we have the options, or preferred option to present to the community for consideration and comment.” The Government expected the Local Planning statements to be finalized by December!
The Planning Minister Matthew Guy, when in opposition in 2008, stated in a media release in response to the then Government’s proposal to remove Statement of Planning Policy number 8: “that in demanding the removal of the policy which protects the natural beauty of the Macedon Ranges, the government was behaving like an environmental vandal. “It is completely outrageous that the state government is set to allow development to the base of Mount Macedon and close to Hanging Rock,” Mr Guy said. “These are some of the most precious natural assets that Victoria has and they should be protected by the state, not seen as fire sale development opportunities.”
Previous Councils have consulted their community concerning important issues for Hanging Rock !
The current development proposal is based directly on the 1993 Loder & Bayly Hanging Rock Recreation Reserve Management Plan . The then Council of the Shire of Woodend & Newham engaged with their community on the draft report in 1992 as the council minutes of July 1992 state:
1. THAT the council display the Draft plan and associated documents at the Kiosk, Hanging Rock Reserve, shire offices, public library and one other shop front location for the period : 29th July 1992 to 31st August , 1992 .
2. THAT the committee hold a public consultation on the draft plan on the first Saturday in September 1992.
3. THAT the committee request the consultants to forward copies of the plan and documents to those special interest groups which made written submissions
4. THAT the committee agree to establish an Advisory committee with the Racing club to consider proposals for works on the area of the racecourse. The Advisory committee to consist of three members of each Bodv.
This recommendation was adopted and implemented by that council and a copy was also put on display at the Woodend Post Office.
Council’s Community Consultation Proposal 26-03-14
At the 26th of March Council meeting the following motion was endorsed unanimously:
1. Preparation of a package of information including; a summary of all relevant information regarding the Development and Investment Plan, options for generating income specifically to invest in Hanging Rock, and a land use precinct plan.
2. Preparation of a communications plan including a comprehensive consultation phase.
3. Undertake the consultation which incorporates a one month information provision period followed by a two month feedback period.
4. Incorporates a public hearing process that conforms with the intent of Section 223 of the Local Government Act 1989.
5. Considers all feedback and report findings and recommendations to Council.
6. Commit to a project timeframe with the following major milestones;
a. Information gathering and document preparation by June
b. Consultation over July-September
c. Public hearing in October
d. Consideration of issues and report to Council in December/February
However an amendment ” that implementation of point 4 of the 28th August 2013 resolution be put on hold until this work is complete, which was : ‘ That Council agrees to work with the State Government to seek a private investor for the two areas identified ( total 5.8 hectares ) of the Master Plan in this report ‘ was lost.
What this means is that Council is still actively seeking expressions of interest for the Hanging Rock Development & Investment Plan whilst at the same time preparing a special summary document for community consultation which will be released by June. This contradiction was amply demonstrated recently with the launch in Bendigo on April 7th of the Loddon Mallee Investment Prospectus 2014 which states that the largest project ($ 8.5 million) in the “Investing in Tourism priority projects” section is the Hanging Rock Development and Investment Plan – Stage 2.
As well Council is currently implementing their Hanging Rock “essential infrastructure ” project which is being funded by the Regional Development Australia Fund grant of $ 2.089 million received in June last year. The major portion of that funding is not for the concerts, maintenance of Hanging Rock or any of the problems that council has raised with regard to Hanging Rock but is to provide substantially increased power and water provisions to allow for the “possibility” of “an accommodation and conference facility“ estimated to cost “some
$ 23 million.” (see selected extracts from the MRSC RDA application – 11 April 2013 )
Hanging Rock Saved From Development 16-05-14
The Victorian Government has now intervened with The Planning Minister Matthew Guy announcing funding and also seeking to rezone the Eastern Paddock to prevent any future development.
“Hanging Rock saved from development
- $1 million from Victorian Coalition Government will fund ongoing maintenance at Hanging Rock
- Hanging Rock saved from commercial development
- Ongoing planning protection secured
Hanging Rock will be saved from development, thanks to decisive action by the Victorian Coalition Government.
Funding of $1 million will secure ongoing maintenance of the public facilities at the Rock.”
Read the Government media release Hanging Rock saved from development
Council ends the Hanging Rock & Investment Plan 28-05-14
At the 28th May Council meeting Council formerly ends the “Hanging Rock Investment and Development Plan”.
The following motion was endorsed unanimously:
“It was moved by Cr Letchford seconded by Cr Mowatt
- Acknowledges the State Government’s funding commitment as follows:
- $250,000 per annum on-going for maintenance, minor facility upgrade and environment improvement projects; and
- Access to other funding streams for major upgrade and environment projects.
Ceases all progress on implementing the following Council
resolutions regarding Hanging Rock:
- PE 4 of the 28 August 2013;
- Urgent and Other Business of the 26 February 2014; and,
- PE 5 of the 26 March 2014.
Works with the Minister for Plannings Office to ensure that
appropriate planning controls apply to the Hanging Rock Precinct.