Hepburn Shire Council is developing an Agricultural Land and Rural Settlement Strategy, the first of its strategic planning projects that make up Future Hepburn.

The strategy will aim to increase understanding of existing and future farming practices, changing trends, emerging technology and farming systems across the shire and establish a long-term plan to manage land use in our farming areas. It will also build understanding about the significant climate change risks in the Shire and how land use planning can respond to those risks.

Mayor, Cr Brian Hood, said that Hepburn Shire’s agricultural land plays an important role in our country’s food and fibre production which we need to protect now and into the future.

“This strategy aims to safeguard our agricultural productivity and the biodiversity of rural land from inappropriate development and provide for the future planning of our small rural settlements to 2043,” said Cr Hood.

“We want to know what the community values about living in their rural area so we can guide appropriate development that is consistent with the things we value,” he said.

The strategy will consider and identify ways to protect the environmental features, landscapes and cultural heritage places within and surrounding the Shire’s farming areas. It will also examine small rural settlements and plan for their managed growth.

The findings of the strategy will be used to strengthen the Hepburn Planning Scheme by improving planning provisions and decision-making guidelines for the Shire’s rural areas.

Future Hepburn is one of the most ambitious planning projects undertaken by a rural council, and aims to protect and enhance the existing character of towns and rural settlements through community inclusive strategic planning controls on growth and development. Strategic planning challenges include planning for climate change impacts, managing appropriate growth and development, the protection of biodiversity, cultural heritage, significant agricultural land, landscapes and environmental features, and planning for our future infrastructure needs allowing our communities, businesses and people to thrive into the future.

The Agricultural Land & Rural Settlement Strategy Survey is now open. For more information on the Agricultural Land and Rural Settlement Strategy and to complete the survey, visit https://participate.hepburn.vic.gov.au/future-hepburn.

Copies of the survey are also available at Shire Libraries and Customer Service Hubs. The survey closes 12 May 2023.