The Covid 19 pandemic has led many city people to realise that there are lots of advantages to living in rural areas. Both Daylesford and Glenlyon have become increasingly popular with people looking for a more relaxed, country lifestyle.
But the residential development that is occurring risks changing the very character not only of Daylesford, but also of the little village of Glenlyon – the character that originally attracted the new arrivals. City people may sometimes forget that rural villages don’t always have the suburban facilities that they take for granted.
The Glenlyon town plan dates back to the 1860s. Then, people used long drop toilets in back yards and wells for drinking water. In 2021, Glenlyon still has no reticulated water supply and no town sewage system. It depends on rainwater tanks and bores for drinking water. Residents dispose of their waste water on their own properties.
Those who support increased residential development like to say that Glenlyon will soon have the facilities enjoyed by bigger towns-reticulated water and town sewage.
But there are risks. Here are some recent observations.
- Central Highlands Water has made it clear there are no plans for them to provide sewage or reticulated water for Glenlyon.
- The prices of land and houses in Glenlyon are rising rapidly. This has led to more Town Zoned land, formerly used for rural purposes, coming onto the market.
- In 2020 there was a 23% increase in blocks of land for sale for residential housing development in Glenlyon. Most of these are less than 4000 square metres (one acre) in size.
- The Hepburn Shire Council Domestic Waste-water Management Plan 2014 states that On-Site Waste-water Treatment Systems (septic systems) on areas of land less than 4000 square metres present a high risk to public health, the environment, the economy and the law. However, this Waste Water Management Plan was never incorporated into the Hepburn Shire Planning scheme, though it was certainly adopted by Hepburn Shire Council at the June 2014 meeting.
- Given point 3 above, Glenlyon has 134, and soon possibly 165, On Site Waste-water Treatment Systemson residential land within its town zone. The Hepburn Shire Council does not currently, rigorously monitor these. It seems that the new waste-water management plan (still at planning stage) will transfer greater responsibility for maintenance of these independent sewage farms to the property owners.
- Goulburn Murray Water is responsible for monitoring and compliance of ground water (bore) installation and use.It is responsible for an area of 68,000 square kilometres, that is, an area 1.65 times the size of The Netherlands. Goulburn Murray Water has indicated that there is only sporadic monitoring of bores. It is unlikely they are able to carry out proper monitoring of most individual bores.
- In living memory, there were plenty of platypuses in the Loddon at Glenlyon.The Loddon now has much lower flow, partly due to reduced ground water flow. There is no longer evidence that platypuses live in the Loddon at Glenlyon.
Most of people living in Glenlyon love its small town, rural character and the magnificent natural and agricultural landscape. They are concerned about the issues of water, waste-water management and over-development. If things change they don’t want that change to be for the worse.
A strong, clear strategic plan is needed, and soon: one that will control unsustainable and inappropriate development.
Money is always the sticking point. The Hepburn Shire Council provides services for a large geographical area on a comparatively low income derived from rates and various grants.
However, to support its recently updated and amended Planning Scheme, Hepburn Shire Council is keen to undertake strategic planning for five towns, Creswick, Clunes, Daylesford, Glenlyon and Trentham. This work would cost about $500,000, according to the Mayor, Cr. Lesley Hewitt.
Recently, the Council applied to the Victorian Planning Authority for $200,000 to support the work. Unfortunately it received only a paltry $20,000 – 4% of the $500,000 needed to cover strategic planning for those 5 towns.
Without adequate resources, much needed planning for towns like Glenlyon is unlikely to happen.
Marget Lockwood is a concerned resident of Glenlyon