Council seeks community's views on proposed changes to Ararat Planning Scheme

Ararat - Ararat Rural City Council is seeking the community's views on proposed changes to the Ararat Planning Scheme which would see the introduction of new residential zones.

Reformed residential zones for Victoria have been introduced by the Minister for Planning Matthew Guy to better respond to present-day requirements and give greater clarity about the type of development that can be expected in residential areas.

The Residential Growth Zone (RGZ), General Residential Zone (GRZ) and Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ) were introduced into the Victoria Planning Provisions by the Minister in July last year.

The Minister for Planning has appointed a Standing Advisory Committee to support councils to review matters related to introducing the new residential zones into their local planning schemes.

Ararat Rural City Council intends to apply the General Residential Zone to replace the Residential 1 zone to enable moderate housing growth and housing diversity and the Neighbourhood Residential Zone to respect and protect the neighbourhood or environmental character.

The new zones are intended to provide clear direction to residents and developers about where residential change is likely to occur and the State Government have provided guidance for the application of the new zones which states:

General Residential Zone - Respect and preserve urban character while enabling moderate housing growth and housing diversity.

* Neighbourhood Residential Zone - Restricts housing growth in areas identified for urban preservation.

* Residential Growth Zone - In appropriate locations near activity areas, train stations and other areas suitable for increased housing activity.

Ararat Rural City Council manager planning and development Joel Hastings said council had recently completed a strategic review of the Ararat township and small towns in the municipality titled 'Ararat Sustainable Growth Future Strategy'.

"It found that the projected growth in Ararat is predicted to grow by 2732 thousand people over the next 20 years and the application of the General Residential Zone is generally appropriate for much of the Ararat township," Mr Hastings said.

He said it also noted development pressure is unlikely to be so great as to warrant use of the Residential Growth Zone or a blanket application of the Neighbourhood Residential Zone unless there are precincts of particularly consistent character that Council seeks to protect.

The Strategy made a number of recommendations including:

* Investigate the application of the Neighbourhood Residential Zone to areas with strong neighbourhood character values that are not within the Heritage Overlay.

* Investigate the application of the Neighbourhood Residential Zone to areas with environmental significance, particularly to the west of Ararat.

"Council has expressed interest in the application of the new residential zones and the opportunity to provide clarity on where development should occur and the protection of locations with particular neighbour character, such as the streetscape along Barkly Street or Vincent Street, and environmental significance such as residential land to west of Brewster Road and Picnic Road adjacent to the Ararat Hills," Mr Hastings said.

Mr Hastings said the application of General Residential Zone is intended to allow for the moderate growth and housing diversity and will be a direct translation of the existing Residential 1 Zone.

He said the use of the Neighbourhood Residential Zone is intended to protect and sustain the strong character associated with established residential neighbourhoods along Ararat's main thoroughfares, such as Lambert Street.

"These streetscapes have consistent urban character of residential dwellings of pre and post war era architectural styles which define the township of Ararat," Mr Hastings said.

"The use of the Neighbourhood Residential Zone will allow for the control of multi unit developments and building works which might threaten this character.

"Ararat is uniquely located on the undulating lower slopes of the Ararat Hills which provide significant landscape setting for the township and has been developed with a semi rural- suburban character including larger lot sizes and retention of trees and natural topography."

The Minister for Planning has provided a July 1 2014 deadline for the introduction of the new zones and has set up a standing advisory committee to consider Council requests and public submissions.

The committee's purpose is to provide advice regarding the suitability of the new zones and method used to apply them into the planning scheme and to consider any submissions before making a recommendation to the Minister prior to July 1.

"Draft Planning Scheme changes have been prepared on the basis of the direct translation of the residential zone land to the General Residential Zone and the application of the Neighbourhood Residential Zone to protect urban character and environmental significant parts of Ararat whilst allowing discretion around lot sizes and the future development of these precincts," Mr Hastings said.

"This approach to the reformed residential zones is considered consistent with future growth requirements for Ararat, provides greater certainty to landowners and developers and important protection to the existing neighbourhood character and environmental significance."

Details of the proposed changes can be viewed at the Ararat Rural City Council offices or at Council's website.

Council is encouraging community members to contact them to discuss or make submissions on the proposed changes, which must be made by Thursday April 17 online at www.dtpli.vic.gov.au/residential-zones-advisory-committee

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