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The Green Wedge is home to some of Victoria’s most prosperous agricultural areas and areas of significant environmental and economic value.
The Victorian Government has recently opened public consultation to discuss Planning for Melbourne's Green Wedges and Agricultural Land. The public consultation period will conclude at 5pm on 5 February 2021.
A consultation paper has also been released to provide an outline of the approach that is currently being considered, including a large number of potential reform outcomes that will shape the future of Green Wedge and agricultural land. This includes potential impacts on land uses in the Green Wedge and in agricultural areas, from having negligible impacts, to prohibiting a variety of uses.
Importance of the Green Wedge
The Green Wedge and Melbourne’s agricultural land play a vital role in the long-term prosperity of Melbourne and its surrounds, being host to a number of critical infrastructure assets such as airports and water treatment plants, which can not realistically be relocated elsewhere. The Green Wedge further offers a variety of recreational uses and open space areas which many Melburnians would have benefitted from as we have fought through the recent COVID-19 lockdown and rediscovered the outdoors. This is all without mentioning the vital role the Green Wedge plays in protecting the valuable environmental ecosystem that surrounds Melbourne.
The Green Wedge is also benefitted by fertile soils which support large swathes of agricultural land around Melbourne. These farming lands produce a variety of goods which protect Melbourne’s food security and offer significant economic benefit to the state.
Changes to Green Wedge and Agricultural Land
We provide a brief summary below of some of the key changes being considered under the project:
- Amending Part 3AA (Metropolitan Green Wedge Protection) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to clearly express the Victorian Government’s vision and objectives for Green Wedges.
- Developing regional policy directions for Green Wedges through Land Use Framework Plans.
- Updating state planning policy to ensure all agricultural land is protected.
- Updating state planning policy land so that uses which do not rely on fertile soil should be located in areas where soil-based agriculture is likely to be constrained.
- Legislating the right to farm to ensure that protection of lawful farming activity is enhanced.
- Reducing the subdivision potential of agricultural land.
- Removing dwelling as an ‘as-of-right’ use in the Farming Zone and within 100km of Melbourne.
- Introducing additional decision guidelines and application requirements for dwellings in the Green Wedge Zone and Green Wedge A Zone.
- Introducing practice notes to guide development in agricultural areas.
- Introducing overlays to ensure food-producing areas are utilised for agricultural uses.
- Amending the definition of a number of uses including ‘primary produce sales’ and ‘host farm’.
- Amending the Green Wedge, Green Wedge A, and Rural Conservation Zones to require places of worship, primary schools, and secondary schools be located adjacent to the urban growth boundary and prohibit schools being located within high bushfire risk areas.
- Introducing additional design and development guidelines to matters including (but not limited to) green wedge character, site layout, site coverage, building height, setbacks, landscaping and detailed design.
While the project is largely positive in seeking to introduce greater certainty over the future of green wedge and farming land around Melbourne, there are potential consequences associated with matters including the restriction of dwellings in the Farming Zone and the restriction of schools and places of worship in the Green Wedge and Rural Conservation Zones where not adjacent to the urban growth boundary.
Author: Jack Lyons, Planner