Plans not yet rock solid

Commercial development at Hanging Rock’s East Paddock is unlikely but has not yet been ruled out as Macedon Ranges Shire Council last week adopted its strategic plan to guide decision-making for the precinct over the next 50 years.
The long-awaited Hanging Rock Strategic Plan recognises the state and national significance of the precinct, setting out future objectives and outlining greater involvement for Aboriginal traditional owner groups in future management arrangements, but conversations around the East Paddock continue as the Liberal Nationals make new promises for protection.
The Hanging Rock precinct is made up of Hanging Rock Reserve, which is Crown land managed by council, and the adjoining East Paddock that was the subject of a past failed proposal for the commercial development of a conference centre and accommodation resort.
At a special council meeting last week, council resolved to adopt the Hanging Rock Strategic Plan in principle, subject to the state government agreeing to: work on an implementation plan for the immediate and high-priority actions, starting discussions on the future ownership of the East Paddock, and providing $375,000 to support maintenance of current infrastructure at the rock.
Member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas told the Midland Express she would be advocating for the minister for planning to endorse the plan, which had been developed with strong community consultation.
“This plan is the vision that we have been waiting for. For the first time we have identified what it is that we need to always protect,” Ms Thomas said.
If the plan is endorsed by the minister, the state government will then continue discussions with the council to fine tune the document, including possibilities around the East Paddock.
Liberal candidate for Macedon Amanda Millar said the plan still “leaves the door open to renewed proposals to build ugly facilities”.
Last week the Liberal Nationals pledged, if elected in November, a Matthew Guy led government would rezone the East Paddock to ensure it was protected from commercial development and “remove the uncertainty” around the iconic natural asset.
Friends of Hanging Rock president Luke Spielvogel said the group was “excited that there will be dialogue around the East Paddock” as he believed it was always intended to be part of the crown reserve.
“We don’t see a reason for that not to happen. The current document certainly doesn’t protect it (the East Paddock from commercial development) but it doesn’t subscribe it either. We would love to have it ruled out – an opportunity for commercial development,” he said.