The Shire of Yarra Ranges Council previously voted (26 August 2014) to ask the Planning Minister to consider amending the subdivision averaging provisions in the existing Schedules to the Green Wedge A Zone, Green Wedge Zone & Rural Conservation Zone. This was in direct response to decisions at VCAT that had made the existing schedules "impractical". The original recommendation by Council was to adopt the average yield as currently shown in the schedule as the new minimum subdivision lot size. The Rural Living Zone was originally excluded from this proposed amendment, as this zone is under separate review by Council in 2015
The original proposed "quick fix" to the boundary realignment issues created by the Kain v Yarra Ranges and Bonfadini v Yarra Ranges VCAT decisions, was considered to result in other issues associated with the planning scheme, and was therefore considered an unacceptable solution & unable to be implemented.
Council subsequently voted at its Council Meeting on 25th August 2015, to have the Planning Minister to consider an amendment to Clause 53 of its planning scheme (Planning Amendment C155). This would introduce a new Resubdivision provision into Clause 53, that would clarify the requirements for Boundary realignment subdivisions of existing allotments in the Green Wedge Zone, Green Wedge A Zone, Rural Conservation Zone & Rural Living Zone.
I reviewed Council's proposed wording prior to the Council meeting, and I expressed some concern to Council with the wording of the amendment as proposed in the Council Agenda. Council considered the issue I had raised, and there is provision during the process with the Planning Minister to vary the amendment wording to ensure it achieves the required outcome, which is to "clarify the requirements" under which Boundary Realignments can be undertaken in the rural zonings of the Shire. We support this reform.
Council has since written in late 2015 to the various Ministers with potential interest in the Amendment, and it appears no opposition to the proposed amendment has been received from these respective Ministers.
Council has now recently further considered this Planning Amendment at its Council Meeting on 27th January 2016. The proposed planning amendment C155 was unanimously supported by Council. This amendment is currently with the Planning Minister pending a final decision.
A very recent "Red-Dot" decision at VCAT appears to have overturned Council's interpretation of the Bonfadini decision. The Willis v Yarra Ranges decision appears to now allow boundary realignments where the average yield is not being satisfied - Council's previous view from the Kain and Bonfadini decisions was that this prohibited the boundary realignment being considered.
Planning Amendment C155 has now also been approved by the Planning Minister on 13/10/2016 and included within the planning scheme. This adopted amendment now enables 2 lot rural re-subdivision applications under certain criteria to be considered on merit, exempting compliance with minimum / average / maximum lot sizes as stipulated within the applicable zoning of the land.
The amended Policy in Clause 53.01 Item 4.0 is available form the following link
This policy adoption is a positive step forward in the orderly planning of the Yarra Valley rural areas into the future, and Council should be congratulated on the work they have done over recent years to resolve these issues created by a few VCAT decisions.