Controversial zoning reforms one step closer to implementation
 Baw Baw News   By // 16:49, Monday 6 May 2013

VICTORIAN Planning minister Matthew Guy has released details on reforms to Victoria’s business and industrial zones, but the implications for Baw Baw are presently unclear.

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Mr Guy said the reforms, which will see the five existing business zones merged into two new zones, will drive employment, but the Baw Baw Shire Council has previously expressed concerns about the reforms.

“These reforms untangle the complex web of business zones in Victoria, replacing them with a common sense approach to our commercial areas,” Mr Guy said in a media release.

A spokesperson for the Baw Baw Shire Council today told The Warragul Citizen “Baw Baw is currently reviewing the reformed zones.”


The spokesperson could not make further comment at this stage.

In August last year Baw Baw Director of Growth and Development Melissa Harris said the council was concerned that the then-proposed reforms would remove restrictions on what could be built where.

“Council is concerned that this change may undermine established retail strategies and encourage retail uses currently located in CBD areas to relocate to areas where land and lease costs would be lower,” Ms Harris said.

“This could have the effect of fragmenting town centres and threatening the viability of established retail areas.”

But Mr Guy hit back, telling The Warragul Citizen the council’s concerns were “out-dated”.

“The planning fraternity [has] very rigid and out-dated views about what forms a town and about what forms an activities area, that are really linked to the 1970s and 1980s,” Mr Guy said.

“This romantic notion that the only area where a place of employment should be able to open is in a defined area or part of a town [is] just an out-dated point of view.”

“I cannot imagine why a small business would leave the central part of Warragul to open up in a new industrial estate half way to Nilma [when] their market is in the central part of Warragul”.


RMIT University Professor and former Department of Planning and Environment senior manager Michael Buxton said of the then-proposed plans:

“It’s really going to mean the death of many regional town centres,” Prof Buxton told The Warragul Citizen.

“It will make it much easier for larger retailers to set up their big box retail outlets out of town and [for] the associated small businesses [to come with them.]”

“What we’ll tend to get is retail moving out of town, and town centres being used for office and residential.”

Professor Buxton said Mr Guy’s suggestion that planners must progress from the 1970s is irrelevant.

“It has nothing to do with 1970s planning,” Prof Buxton said.

“What he (Guy) is doing is throwing away the rules to advantage big retailers and big developers.”

“This is the worst of American retail planning, or lack of it.”

But Mr Guy said it is unlikely retailers will leave town centres.

“No Coles or Woolies is going to… make a million-dollar or multimillion-dollar investment where there are no people, but that’s what’s kind of being put forward”.

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4 responses to “Controversial zoning reforms one step closer to implementation”

  1. Peter Smith says:

    What does it mean for the farming zone?

  2. Graeme says:

    When Safeway/Woolworths vacates and moves in next to Masters, and Bunnings moves out to Nilma or perhaps Burke St,(depending on which rumour you choose), maybe then the milk factory site will be seen as a good location for a new CBD.
    As it is the Warragul post office is a joke,and as far as being able to park anywhere within resonable walking distance,good luck.Meantime we have residential growth forced upon us without any commensurate development in infrastructure to cope with the larger population.
    I fear we are all being taken for a ride.

  3. Tony says:

    Dear me Graeme.
    Not sure what you would consider a reasonable walking distance! I have never, repeat never, been unable to get a car park either behind the Courthouse, in Mason Street or on the top deck of Coles. All within 200m of the post office. If that’s not reasonable enough maybe the new planning zones should incorporate a drive through in every retail premises. Really I am sick of hearing about no parking in Warragul. Try a bike and it might have the side benefit of reducing our high presence of obesity and diabetes in this community.

  4. Mark says:

    Dear Tony,
    I on many occasion have not been able to find a car park in both those places, you’re a lucky man is all I’m saying.
    Also the council better wise up if they don’t want the town to fragment all over the place. Super high rent and rates are pushing the drive to move away from the area, or altogether close down. Have a drive along queen street in a few months, a lot of places are very close to leaving, it’ll look like a ghost town (Maybe not that bad, but you get my drift).