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Baw Baw Shire Council makes big improvements to town planning to maximise effect of being one of Victoria's fastest growing regions
Baw Baw Shire Council, one of the fastest growing regions of Victoria, is taking proactive steps to align Planning outcomes with the needs and desires of the local community in the face of unprecedented rates of development.
Situated on the M1 corridor just 60 minutes from Melbourne, Baw Baw Shire is experiencing extraordinary residential growth. The current estimated population from Baw Baw Shire's demographic resourcesis approximately 55,000 is forecast to grow by more than 50% by 2041, to nearly 85,000.
The big improvements to town planning are designed to provide community groups, council, investors, business, students and the general public with better outcomes with the needs and desires of the local community
To put that into perspective, most of the growth is expected to occur in Warragul and Drouin where the Precinct Structure Plans are guiding the development of almost 20,000 lots over the next 30 years
Independent review to enhance statutory planning services
Baw Baw Shire Council continuously undertakes service reviews to find ways to become more efficient and to improve the more than 100 services Council provides to the community. Planning is a key service. To address the ever-increasing pressures of rapid growth, Baw Baw Shire Council has self-initiated an independent review of its statutory planning services to evaluate resourcing levels and create a practical action plan aimed at enhancing performance and outcomes.
The review is currently underway and it is being led by Andrew Wegener of Andrew Wegener Consulting. Mr Wegener is an experienced and highly respected consultant, and a former Director at the City of Melbourne and PwC. The review is focused on statutory planning and greenfield site development. It includes benchmarking against similar Councils, a review of internal processes and seeks feedback from internal and external stakeholders.
The review is expected to be completed in early October. The findings of that review will be implemented thereafter.
Council will also consider publishing a summary of key findings and actions.
Community-informed approach to strategic planning
Baw Baw Shire Council is actively engaging with residents to gather their input on guidelines that will protect Baw Baw's rural character and ensure future developments match the community's vision for the region.
For example, following extensive community consultation, the council recently adopted the Precinct Structure Plan (PSP) review for Warragul and Drouin. The review recommended that Council should develop neighbourhood character guidelines, clearer requirements for lot sizes, and put a greater emphasis on the preservation of natural environments.
Council is taking steps to implement that review right now. As a direct flow-on, draft Warragul and Drouin Preferred Neighbourhood Design Guidelines have been developed with initial public consultation. They will be put out for further public review and community input for 6 weeks starting Monday 20 September.
Residents are invited to take part
These important community-informed guidelines aim to ensure that developments in new residential neighbourhoods, as well as in-fill residential developments, will reflect the preferred local character as defined directly by the people who live and work here in Baw Baw Shire.
Residents are invited to take part in two facilitated community drop-in sessions, and via an easy online submission process hosted on Council's website. The consultation will be promoted with advertisements on local radio, in print and on social media to ensure the opportunity reaches as wide an audience as possible. All residents are urged to get involved and make their voices heard.
Planning for better outcomes now and into the future
In addition to the initiatives outlined above, Council is currently driving many other strategic planning projects that will deliver improved outcomes for Baw Baw now and for years to come. They are:
- Drouin Township Design and Development Overlay Amendment
- Flood Mapping Amendment
- Economic Land Use Review
- The Gables Heritage Amendment
- Longwarry Structure Plan
Other strategic planning projects that will deliver improved outcomes for Baw Baw include:
- Planning in the Economic Growth Zone Amendment
- Warragul and Drouin Precinct Structure Plan Review
- Warragul and Drouin Neighbourhood Design Guidelines
- Warragul and Drouin Development Contributions Plan Review
- Yarragon Township Plan
- Yarragon Section 96A Amendment
Chief Executive Officer Mark Dupe said, "As an organisation, we're always looking for opportunities to improve. That's why we conduct a continuous program of service reviews: to find efficiencies, to evolve along with changing realities, to find ways to work smarter on behalf of our community."
Working on behalf of our community
Chief Executive Officer Mark Dupe also said, "It is hard to overstate the rate of growth we're experiencing in Baw Baw Shire. I live in Drouin. I get it. Even amidst the uncertainty of COVID-19, the volume of planning applications received by our planning team last year was a 5-year high. We're talking hundreds and hundreds of applications, each of which warrants proper assessment and oversight from start to finish."
"Our planning team is at the coalface, working on behalf of our community and they're doing a tremendous job with the extraordinary workload they're tasked with. There is no doubt the growth we're seeing here is challenging. But we're embracing that challenge by taking proactive steps: by listening to our community, by entering into dialogue with developers, by undertaking objective independent reviews of our services."
"It is by acting on what we find out from those processes - and we are committed to doing so - that we will deliver ever-improving outcomes for our community."
For more information about any of the projects above or about Council's continuous dedication to service improvement, please visit the Baw Baw Shire Council website or contact Council directly on 1300 229 229 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For media enquiries, please contact email@example.com.
Pictures from Baw Baw Shire Council YouTube channel.
Published by: firstname.lastname@example.org
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