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Draft Whittlesea Township Strategy FAQs

Read our Frequently Asked Questions about the draft Whittlesea Township Strategy.

The Draft Whittlesea Township Strategy 2020 is a long-term plan (20 years) that will be used to guide and manage future planning and decision making for the township, subject to its adoption by Council.

The Strategy reflects and responds to the feedback provided by the community in relation to Whittlesea township. The Strategy establishes a long-term vision for the Whittlesea township which reflects the community’s key aspirations, to protect the significant attributes of the township that contribute to its distinctive semi-rural character, while building on its opportunities.

The need to prepare a strategy for the Whittlesea township has been primarily driven by the need to provide greater strategic and planning direction in respect to the future development of the Whittlesea township and to respond to the additional development pressure on its fringes

The Whittlesea Township Local Structure Plan which was approved in 1994, is the key strategic document currently guiding development in the area. The Local Structure Plan is now outdated and much of the land identified for future residential housing is now largely developed. It is within this context that the Draft Whittlesea Township Strategy 2020 has been developed to set the direction for future development of the Township over the next 20 years.

While the Strategy provides for some opportunities for new housing within the current township boundaries, the Strategy is not proposing further expansion of the existing residential boundaries.

The Whittlesea township is forecast to experience only moderate growth of about 25 per cent between 2019-2041 compared to 69 per cent for the same period for the entire municipality.

It is expected that the development of vacant lots, together with some infill development within the existing township will meet the identified forecasted needs for the foreseeable future. More importantly, there are other locations within the municipality more broadly, which can support future residential growth over the next 20-25 years without the need to expand the existing residential boundaries of the township.

A key action from the Strategy is to establish a clear township boundary that is consistent with the current extent of development. Further information on the purpose of an Urban Growth Boundary is detailed below.

The delineation between urban and non-urban land is defined by the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), put in place in 2002 by the Victorian Government to better manage Melbourne’s growth. The purpose of a UGB is to direct urban growth to areas best able to be supplied with appropriate infrastructure and services and protect other valuable peri-urban land and significant environmental features from urban development pressures.

The UGB applies around the urban areas of metropolitan Melbourne. Land outside the UGB is referred to as Green Wedge land.

The current UGB is located approximately 6km south and 8km west of the Township, with a significant non-urban break between areas designated for urban growth and the Whittlesea Township.  The Whittlesea Township forms part of the Whittlesea Green Wedge one of twelve designated green wedges around metropolitan Melbourne.

While there is clear delineation between urban and rural zoned land in areas of the township, the lack of a clear boundary has caused uncertainty within the community and potentially threatens long term investment in agricultural activities. The lack of a defined boundary has also resulted in increasing pressure for Council to support new residential development on the fringes of the township.

Introduction of an Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) around the township will protect its rural values and surrounds including significant environmental and landscape values and provide long-term support for agricultural and farming activities. It will also provide greater certainty to the community about Council’s long-term direction for the Whittlesea township.

The current State Government remains committed to protecting green wedge values and maintaining the current extent of the UGB. Council will work closely with the State Government to establish a clear boundary around the township.

Some of the specific actions aims at protecting and enhancing the character of the township are to:

  • develop and implement built form controls in the Whittlesea Planning Scheme to ensure that new development responds to and enhances the existing character of the Town Centre.
  • implement Councils existing Housing Diversity Strategy to ensure that different types of housing are appropriately located within the Township and have regard to the existing and preferred character of the area.
  • undertake a Public Realm Strategy for the commercial area to strengthen the link between Church and Laurel Streets and to identify opportunities for public realm improvements.

As well as supporting the day-to-day needs of the local community, the Whittlesea township provides an important regional service role. Whittlesea’s business role includes its retail, commercial, industrial and tourism related activities. Council recognises that supporting and growing existing businesses and attracting new jobs within the township is critical to ensuring its long-term viability and vibrancy.  Council will continue to investigate and implement initiatives to support new and existing business and to promote the town centre to ensure that the needs of the community continue to be met. Consideration will also be given to investigating more innovative ways of doing business and encouraging opportunities to improve the retail, commercial and tourism offerings within the township.

Agricultural activities also make a significant contribution to the local economy and the Strategy’s overall policy of containing development is expected to provide long-term certainty for existing and new agricultural and farming activities within the Green Wedge on the outskirts of Whittlesea and beyond. The State Government is also currently looking at measures to strengthen protections for green wedges and agricultural land and Council will continue to work with the State Government in this regard.

As part of the community feedback, the main leisure and community facilities identified as requiring improvement were places for teenagers, swimming pools, playgrounds and health facilities. In recent years Council has undertaken significant works to install new/upgraded playground equipment in two playgrounds with further works proposed. A number of other open space improvements have also been undertaken including works at the AF Walker Reserve and Whittlesea Swim Centre and an upgrade of the skate park is also proposed subject to grant funding.

For a regional centre, the Whittlesea township has a good range of services and community infrastructure, however there is opportunity to better use existing community spaces to meet identified community facility gaps such as the shortage of playgroup and meeting spaces. A Community Infrastructure Needs Assessment has also identified the need for a health hub in the township which could provide opportunity for more specialist services and expansion of disability services. It is recognised that ongoing review of Council services will be required to ensure that these continue to meet the changing needs of the community. Council also has a role in working with or advocating to existing service providers within the township to facilitate ancillary services to meet the needs of the local community.

Council recognises the importance of ensuring equitable access to public transport for all. Council will continue to advocate for improved bus services within the township to more effectively align to community needs.

Whilst the extension of the train line to Whittlesea has been identified as an important issue by the Whittlesea community, the current priority for Council is advocating for the extension of the metropolitan rail system to the growth areas of Epping North and Wollert which is expected to service approximately 75,000 people. There is opportunity for advocacy to State Government to improve bus services which connect Whittlesea to the Mernda line.

Council will continue to identify and implement upgrades and improvements to the local road network. Council will also implement initiatives designed to increase active travel options including infrastructure improvements to facilitate walking and cycling and address ‘missing links’ in the local cycling/footpath network.

For any matters identified on those main roads which do not fall under the direct responsibility of Council, we will continue to advocate to the State Government and relevant agencies to address matters as they arise such as the need to upgrade the pedestrian crossing at Beech Street (Church Street intersection) to facilitate safer pedestrian movement.

The significant landscape and topographic features of the township including the Whittlesea Hills, Eastern Hills, Plenty Valley and Plenty River have contributed to the current form of the township and remain significant visual features. Development needs to continue to be appropriately managed and discouraged from locating on significant ridgelines, other visually exposed areas and in identified floodplains to maintain the character of the area and protect identified biodiversity values.

Council is proposing to undertake work to further assess biodiversity values and identify strategic habitat links with a view to ensure that these are appropriately protected and managed into the future.

Any feedback should be provided in writing to:

Manager Strategic Planning & Economic Development

City of Whittlesea

Locked Bag 1

Bundoora MDC  VIC  3083

Or email: strategic.planning@whittlesea.vic.gov.au

by 5pm on 18 December 2020

On-line Drop-in Sessions are scheduled for:

Thursday 19 November 2020 at 1.00pm; and

Thursday 19 November 2020 at 5.00pm

If you are interested in attending one of these sessions, please RSVP with your name, contact email details and preferred session time to Strategic.Planning@whittlesea.vic.gov.au

Please note that on-line sessions will be confirmed closer to the date.

The City of Whittlesea previously consulted with people in the Whittlesea township to better understand what is currently working and what improvements could be made. We also heard the community’s aspirations for the township’s future. Over 640 responses were received through this consultation process.

More recently extensive community consultation was undertaken as part of Whittlesea 2040, with the engagement phase reaching more than 4,000 individuals, including feedback specific to the Whittlesea township community.

The Strategy has also been informed by feedback received as part of the bi-annual Household survey, which was most recently undertaken in 2019.

A range of matters have contributed to the delay since consultation was undertaken in finalising the Strategy. These documents are required to consider a range of issues and take time to prepare. Further, Council was interested to review the outcomes of the consultation undertaken as part of the preparation of the Whittlesea 2040: A place for all document. Whittlesea 2040: A place for all provides the long-term strategic vision for the municipality and is expected to guide all future Council work as we develop strategies for our key centres.

The draft Strategy was subsequently redrafted as a ‘place-based strategy’, to better align with the goals and key directions of the Whittlesea 2040: A place for all document.

Refocussing the document with a place-based approach has enabled officers to broaden the issues addressed by the Strategy with a view to co-ordinate all that we do within one document and address those issues specific to the Whittlesea community.

The City of Whittlesea has adopted the International Association for Public Participation IAP2 Core Values. These values are central to how the City of Whittlesea approaches any community consultation and engagement processes.

It is important to the City of Whittlesea that decisions are made on the best information available. Your views and experiences help us to build this knowledge.

All submissions received will be considered and will inform the development of the final Whittlesea Township Strategy 2020. All comments and feedback will be tabled at a subsequent Council meeting prior to endorsement, but individual names will not be made public.

The Strategy is expected to be considered by Council in early 2021. Confirmation of the Council meeting will made closer to the date.

The Draft Whittlesea Township Strategy is on display, and feedback will be received until 5pm on Friday 18 December 2020.

The priority actions contained within the draft Strategy have been translated into a draft action plan which nominates the responsible Council departments and timeframes associated within implementing the actions ranging from short (1-3 years) to medium (4-7 years) and long (8-10 years). Actions are identified as ongoing generally relate to the implementation of existing strategies/plans or form part of Council’s everyday/business as usual activities.

Further opportunity will be provided to comment on some of the specific actions in the action plan as they are undertaken subject to endorsement by Council e.g. through the normal statutory process undertaken as part of any planning scheme amendment and through more specific consultation on particular actions or projects.