The Draft Structure Plan for Daylesford and Hepburn Springs includes a proposal to extend the municipal boundary to the east of East Street to incorporate what is currently a Farming Zone into the township.

A parcel of land along East Street between Grenville St and Sullivan St would be rezoned Neighbourhood Residential and another parcel north of settlement Rd would be rezoned Industrial 3 Zone.

The proposal has angered local residents especially those in the vicinity of East Street. An action group, Pastures not Pavements has formed to fight the proposal.

SGS Economics, whose report formed part of the background for the Draft Plan, estimated that there was a need for 1,247 new houses and an additional 15,200 sqm of commercial floorspace between 2025 and 2041. The challenge is to find land within the current boundaries that is not affected by bushfire or environmental overlays. One of the very few areas that meets these requirements is to the east of East Street.

Some of the housing requirements can be accommodated by infill development within the central township areas but the report suggests this would be insufficient to fulfil projected needs.

Council is under pressure to increase housing stock. A recent article in The Age, suggested that the state government would set housing targets for local government areas and that Councils that failed to meet targets might have their planning powers stripped. The state government is pressuring councils in order to deliver on its promise to deliver 80,000 new homes every year for the next decade in order to address the housing crisis.

A lack of affordable housing within the townships generally and within Daylesford in particular is a particular concern for Council. Council has adopted an Affordable housing Policy and has been advocating federal and state governments to increase the supply of affordable housing. The recent Special Meeting of Council to consider the Draft 2023/24 Budget adopted an amendment to include $100,000 to further develop the Affordable Housing Pan and Strategy.

Council has limited power to directly influence affordable housing. One of the few levers that Council can pull to ensure improved housing affordability is by negotiating with developers about greenfield sites. Opening the East Street land for residential development would offer Council an opportunity to negotiate with a developer to include a proportion of the development as affordable housing as defined by the state government.

Pastures not Pavements argues that the East Street site is not suitable for housing because it is not within easy walking distance to the town centre and because it is unsuitable for the identified need of one and two-bedroom houses. They argue that there is sufficient capacity for housing demand within the existing town boundaries. They are concerned about the loss of farmland, the impact on birds and wildlife and the potential impact on Spring Creek and its springs and headwaters.

The Draft Structure Plans are currently available for comment on the Participate Hepburn website.

A final information session on the Draft Structure Plans will be held at the Daylesford Town Hall, 76 Vincent Street, Daylesford on Saturday 1 June, from 2pm to 5pm at the . A formal Introduction Presentation will commence at 4pm.

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