Macedon Ranges councillors split on Farm Zone bid

An application to develop a house and shed at a 6.2-hectare Russells Lane property to manage speckle park cattle has been knocked back.

Plans to support a small-scale speckle park cattle breeding pursuit in Woodend North have been knocked back.
The application sought to develop a house and large shed at a 6.2-hectare Russells Lane property to manage six cows and their offspring.
The plan detailed land management works to rehabilitate the degraded land but ultimately failed in a split 5-4 vote.
Applicants failed to convince of the necessity of the development, repeating history of dozens appealing for discretionary use in the Farm Zone and challenging state policy that no home can be built on land less than 40ha.
Cr Roger Jukes argued that improvement to the land would return productivity in an area that was “transitional” with many smaller lots to the south.
“This is a positive project for this piece of land providing high-level genetics to the cattle industry,” he said. “We’re going to see an improvement to the farming land with this development.”
While Cr Jukes, Mandi Mees, Andrew Twaits and Henry Bleeck backed the council officer’s approval, others held reservations.
Spearheading a motion against development, Cr Jennifer Anderson said the council had a “long history of defending the Farm Zone”.
She argued there was “no nexus” between the need for a house and the proposed farming pursuit, and that the activity could be carried out without a dwelling.
Both Cr Anderson and Cr Bill West argued approval would set a precedent and open the door to many with similar small sites seeking to build.
Crs Anderson, West, Gayfer, Radnedge and Pearce voted against the permit approval.