Opinions sought for Yarra River changes

Warrandyte Diary, August 2014

Photo source: Yarra Riverkeeper Association

The Napthine Government is asking community members for feedback on its new “strict” measures aimed at protecting the Yarra River from overdevelopment.

Until August 22, people can have their say on the proposals included in the Middle Yarra River Recommendations Report, with riverside planning controls including increasing minimum lot sizes, mandatory height limits of between eight and 12 metres, and setbacks of between 30m and 100m from the Yarra.

Planning Minister, Matthew Guy, says the controls will ensure consistency in planning rules along the 70-kilometre stretch of the river, which runs through Manningham, Banyule and Nillumbik.

Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith, says the planning protections are “much needed”.

“The Napthine Coalition Government is protecting the Yarra River once and for all. We’re proposing strict mandatory controls that will prevent development intruding on the natural character of the river corridor, its banks and much valued vegetation and parkland,” he said.

However, not-for-profit community group, the Yarra Riverkeeper Association, welcomes the study but says the new planning controls don’t go far enough in protecting the river from overdevelopment.

Ian Penrose, from the association, is pleased with the government’s decision to not reduce minimum lot sizes, but he says the new plans would allow further degradation of the Yarra’s natural environment.

“Notwithstanding recent amendments, developers may still be able to exploit the lucrative views of the river by erecting taller and more intrusive buildings,” Mr Penrose said.

“These regulations would still allow for bigger and closer buildings to be built than what’s already there. I fully understand the wish by landholders and developers to create water views but every time they do the public is losing out to private benefit.

“If you have a view from your building then what you’re doing is you’re putting a building in the view for everyone else. The environmental, cultural and visual values in this part of the river are all based on the landscape being natural.”

Encroaching development threatens the health and biodiversity of the river and its wetlands, home to hundreds of different plant and animal species.

“In the Lower Yarra the erection of huge apartment buildings is a serious problem, but just as damaging is the cumulative impact of many developments on single home sites.  Further upstream, indigenous vegetation is being cleared to make way for expanding suburbia.  This misplaced development is destroying the visual and recreational amenity of the river corridor and its precious wildlife habitat,” Mr Penrose said.

Read the full report and have your say at www.dtpli.vic.gov.au/middleyarrastudy


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Brianna Piazza

Journalist and travel writer.