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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”.