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The Minister for Planning and Housing, Richard Wynne, has halted local resident’s objections to the development at 17 Smith St at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The Hygge Property proposal known as ‘Middleton Field’, will now go an Advisory Panel which will make recommendations to the Minister. Regardless of the recommendations, Wynne will now have the final say over the development.

The 17 Smith development is a potential tipping point for Daylesford. It would see over 50 houses built on the hills south and east of the Daylesford Secondary College.

The development has spill over effects that could trigger  further development on the adjoining land. The potential for over 100 suburban houses in total at the entrance to Daylesford would have massive implications for local services and amenities.

There are concerns that the development will create an out of character suburban eyesore at the entrance to Daylesford. One that will also create traffic congestion for local residents and risks for students attending the St Michaels Primary School and the Secondary College.

There are a number of mature trees on the site, including a mature oak on Smith St at the entrance to the proposed site. The area also has wetlands on the lower slopes. There are concerns the trees will be lost and the wetlands destroyed.

A Keep Daylesford Beautiful group of local residents, led by Jennie Wilmoth, Debora Semple and Jenni Draper on behalf of 40 local objectors and others who support them is campaigning to have the proposal modified.

The previous Hepburn Council, which saw all but one sitting Councillor defeated at the recent election, supported the proposal . The Keep Daylesford Beautiful group has found the new Council much more willing to hear their concerns.

The group wants the development to be more in character with the local area with smaller lots for affordable housing and larger lots on the slopes to protect the wetland areas. They want the trees to be protected and more public space to be provided. More generally the group wants to see Council act much more assertively to prevent further unchecked development on adjacent land.

Spokesperson for the group, Jennie Wilmoth said, “The proposal should be redesigned to better read the water, slope and wetlands of the area. It needs to take more account of the character of Daylesford and it should include more affordable housing.”

She was concerned that there is pressure to fast track the development for economic development. She maintains the claims that Daylesford needs economic development are overblown. With the removal of the lockdown, visitors have returned. Local builders are are already busy with a range of smaller scale developments.

The Keep Daylesford Beautiful group points out that the 29 lot suburban style development at 40 Smith St opposite the High School has not been popular with buyers. After 18 months only 11 lots have sold, suggesting that suburban developments like these are not what people are looking for.

The Keep Daylesford beautiful group intends to put its case to the Minister’s Advisory Panel. It has raised sufficient funds to engage a town planner and it is after further crowd funding to engage a barrister.