Riddell fight rears again

Community-led Riddells Creek Planning Group members, Ross Colliver, Robert McConville and Simon Were, are still fighting to keep the identity of their town.

Riddells Creek residents are preparing to continue the fight to keep the rural identity of their town.

Plans for an Amess Road Precinct Structure Plan and development are now in the hands of the state government despite Macedon Ranges Shire Council’s rejection last year.

The Department of Transport and Planning has confirmed a pre-application request was made to the Development Facilitation Program on November 17.

An application seeks a state-led process to amend the Macedon Ranges Planning Scheme to implement the PSP and concurrently assess a planning permit application for stage one of a proposed subdivision.

DTP said the stage one site had a net developable area of 15.48 hectares, and the proposed subdivision provided for the creation of 182 residential lots ranging from 350m2 to 1015m2.

Community-led Riddells Creek Planning Group members were concerned the application had still not answered the call of the community.

Last year Riddells Creek residents rallied in a campaign for better outcomes from the proposal including minimum lot sizes of 800sqm, improved connections, and staying true to the town’s rural identity. A submission to council included a petition with 1231 signatories.

“The community had asked the council to reject anything with lots less than 800m2 and that lots should be no more than nine per buildable hectare,” Robert McConville said.

“When you consider what the community wanted, you could say that this proposal, if approved, would sell the rural identity of our town.”

Ross Colliver referred to the town’s lack of infrastructure and amenities to support such a development.

“If the state government is going to push through this development, we look forward to government pushing through safe roads, public transport, recreational facilities and family services these 3500 people will need to live happy and healthy lives here in Riddells Creek,” he said.

In April last year, Macedon Ranges Shire councillors unanimously rejected progression of the Amess Road Precinct Structure Plan as it was presented.

The move went against MRSC planning officer advice but heeded the overwhelming community catch-cry that “the town’s rural identity is not for sale”.

At that time, the draft PSP proposed 1300 lots on 130 hectares – an increase on the original 1290-lot plan – which has further reduced lot sizes.

Councillors called for the applicant to “go back to the drawing board” before submitting to the Minister for Planning.

Last week MRSC’s director of planning and environment, Rebecca Stockfeld, said the council understood the application had been lodged with the DTP, meaning the council was no longer the authority considering the PSP.

“Like the broader community, council would have the option to become a submitter in this new process,” she said.

“Should it be made public for consultation on the department’s website, the council would likely prepare a submission that would be finalised and made public through a future council meeting.”

DTP confirmed opportunity for the community to review the application documents and lodge submissions will be available during a formal public notice period. This would occur once the application is formally lodged with the department.