Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Group fights Strathbogie Shire planning law

A group of landholders in Avenel and Mangalore say an unfair and little-known planning policy is preventing them from selling or developing their properties.

CATHY WALKER December 19, 2012 4:10am

Lance Marke (left) and Bluey Shelton are fighting a Strathbogie Shire planning scheme that prevents them selling part of their farms.

Spokesman Lance Marke, who farms sheep, cattle and crops at Avenel, is dismayed at the power the owners of Mangalore Airport now have over planning applications on land adjoining and around the airport under the Mangalore Airport Environs Overlay.

Under the Planning Act the privately owned airport is a referral authority and has recently objected successfully to the development of a typical 22ha rural lifestyle property on Avenel’s boundary.

About the same time, another house was approved in much closer proximity to an airport runway.

Add to that a ‘‘bizarre’’ Strathbogie Shire Council local law for this area requiring a minimum 100ha lot size for an ‘as of right’ dwelling permit — despite there being almost no lots of that size — and the landholder group says planning policies must be reviewed.

Mr Marke stressed the local farmers and landholders were not against the airport or its further development ‘‘so long as matters are fair and reasonable and everyone’s interest is taken into account before planning decisions are made’’.

The airport owners are on record as saying that as many as 200 international pilots will be training out of the airport by late 2013, and Mangalore has been mooted as a major freight hub to ease the load on Melbourne Airport.

Recently Mr Marke took his concerns, along with a community petition with 42 signatures, to a three-day Planning Panels Victoria hearing in Nagambie to object to the Strathbogie Shire Planning Scheme, Amendment C50.

He submitted that when he bought his three-title, 191ha property at Avenel 27 years ago neither the 100ha-minimum Farming Zone nor the airport overlay existed, noting ‘‘both these illogical policies were introduced without public consultation’’.

‘‘After a two-year battle with the shire and the Mangalore Airport we feel we are the victims of a very unfair planning scheme,’’ he told the hearing.

‘‘We have been forced to reduce our lot numbers from three to two lots, which has ruined our farm succession options and reduced our property values. My family has been gutted.’’

The community petition called on the panel to review the ‘‘extraordinarily oversized’’ area of the airport overlay and make it a more reasonable and practical size, and to review the justification for such a large farming lot size on the town boundary.

His group says the lot sizes should be gradually increased as they move further away from Avenel, and cite the social and economic benefits of growth and development on the town fringe, where there are already some lifestyle blocks of 2-3ha.

A spokesman for Planning Panels Victoria said last week the panel has 28 days to make its recommendation.

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