Project overview

Rural Hepburn: Agricultural Land and Rural Settlement Strategy will provide a comprehensive planning and action framework to manage the use and development of private rural land (land outside our main towns). It will set a vision and direction that safeguards our rural land in the face of identified change drivers and challenges.

Our shared challenge is to develop a land use and management strategy that supports and conserves agricultural industries, rural tourism, valued landscapes, biodiversity and sustainable and safe small rural settlements.

Your feedback and input, together with technical research, has guided the development of this Strategy.

Will my property be affected?

If you own property outside a town, or live outside a town, please review the Rural Strategy. There are proposed planning changes to most rural areas including:

  • Proposal to require a planning permit to establish a dwelling on a Farming Zone lot below 80ha in area; see page 32 of strategy and map on page 41.
  • Proposed new Rural Activity Zone (mixed farming and tourism) in areas south and north of Daylesford with a 40ha minimum subdivision size; see page 33 and map on page 41 of strategy.
  • Proposed Rural Conservation Zone on heavily forested land; see page 47 of strategy.
  • Proposed ability to subdivide down to 2ha in selected existing Rural Residential Zones at Creswick and Clunes; see page 64 of strategy.
  • Potential Rural Activity Zone areas in at Eganstown, Creswick and Clunes with a 40ha minimum subdivision size; see pages 42-44.
  • Potential new Rural Residential Zones at Creswick and Clunes; see p85 of strategy.

Thank you to all the community members who came to the Community Information Sessions across the Shire. Copies of the Introduction Presentations, given by our Strategic Planners, outlining the key planning elements from the draft structure plans and Rural Hepburn strategy are included in the Future Hepburn: Technical Reports and Supporting Documents.

What we have heard so far

Initial Community Engagement

Rural Hepburn began with a Background Report that provided a current understanding of rural industries and natural assets, and the key issues and opportunities. Supported by the information within the Background Report, community members shared their knowledge and thoughts by completing the accompanying survey. The survey results and technical information were the foundation for the development of the draft Strategy.

The key things we heard from the community were:

  • Agricultural land is highly valued and there is strong desire to see it preserved for agriculture into the future.
  • The agriculture sector holds significant value as a contributor to the Shire's economy and rural surroundings.
  • The preservation and enhancement of biodiversity and rural landscapes are highly valued, with strong support for their conservation and improvement.
  • Concerns that continued population growth and subsequent development in rural areas could adversely affect biodiversity, landscapes, and place strain the Council's infrastructure to support increased population.
  • Overall agreement on channeling residential growth towards existing settlements as a balanced way of addressing these challenges, while also getting the most our or the current infrastructure.
  • Acknowledgement that rural tourism is a significant contributor to the local economy however, there is a need to ensure that tourism growth does not negatively affect agricultural activities, landscapes, or the rural ambiance.

You can find out more about the Engagement Findings by reading the Rural Hepburn Community Survey Report in the Document Library.

Deeper Community Engagement

During October and November of 2023, several individual interviews with a variety of landowners and producers in our community were undertaken. These interviews were of great benefit, adding a lived experience lens to the Rural Strategy's development.

Next Steps

Thank you to all the community members who have engaged with us throughout this project. Your feedback on Rural Hepburn will be collated and considered. An Engagement Summary Report will compile the feedback and Council's response. Council will consider the final draft, inclusive of any feedback, before proceeding to adoption later in 2024.

Any planning scheme amendment process as result of Rural Hepburn will involve an additional phase of community engagement and further opportunities for submissions.

We encourage you to register for Council's e-newsletter Hepburn Life to receive updates on these activities.

Rural scene