Significant Landscape Overlays in Yarra Ranges Planning Scheme – National Trust submission

Last week the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) made a submission regarding the proposed Yarra Ranges Planning Scheme Amendment C148, which among other things, seeks to consolidate, expand and delete new Significant Landscape Overlays (SLO) within the Yarra Ranges municipality. The National Trust takes the view that the cultural, historic and aesthetic landscape values of the Yarra Ranges Shire deserve recognition and protection by the local planning scheme, and the new controls should defend these landscapes as strongly as the existing controls given the exceptional landscape qualities of the municipality. The National Trust submission can be can be read here.

The National Trust was, generally speaking, comfortable with the change from more than 23 individual landscape classifications toward consolidated SLOs that represent the six key landscape character types in the Yarra Ranges. These changes were based on a Planisphere report ‘2020 Vision By Design’ prepared for the municipality in 2008. Planisphere is, in the National Trust’s view, an industry leader in identification and assessment of significant landscapes in Victoria, and we are pleased to see this review of significant landscapes build on the pioneering work undertaken by the National Trust in the early 1980s.  However, the National Trust holds some concerns that in consolidating several landscapes into one, some significant landscape character elements have been overlooked or lost from the summary of the landscape characteristics.

Concerns were raised regarding the inclusion of references to architectural styles, and accounting for scenic and aesthetic values as experienced within the landscapes. Furthermore, the National Trust noted that some references by Planisphere to the threat posed by the dominance of horticultural structures in the landscape have not been addressed by the current amendment. Our submission recommended that these structures continue to be subject to a permit, ensuring impact on the landscape is minimised wherever possible through good siting and screening vegetation. In addition it was recommend that permit requirements continue for fencing and crop protection structures.

Also, given that replacements of existing dwellings within the Yarra Ranges Shire is common, the National Trust recommended that permit exemptions on building and works also be lowered or deleted in the amendment, with some strengthening of the measures to protect views and vegetation.  The Planisphere 2008 report provides detailed design guidelines, and we submitted these (or equivalent) should be adopted in full. On a separate note, while deletion of the Black Spur SLO in the amendment was seen to be appropriate given its inclusion in the Yarra Ranges National Park, the National Trust believes that the Black Spur is a possible candidate for inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register as a cultural landscape.

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