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Rural Land Use and Settlement Strategy

Have Your Say on the Buloke Shire Rural Land Use and Settlements Strategy 

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Council has appointed PLN Planning Pty Ltd in conjunction with Phillips Agribusiness to prepare a Rural Land Use and Settlements Strategy.

The preparation of a Rural Land Use Strategy is identified in the Council Plan 2017-2021 as being needed to “set out the long term vision for the municipality’s rural areas”.  Such strategies are used to inform decision making about which of the rural zones, including the Rural Living Zone, should be applied to particular areas and what the minimum lot sizes should be for subdivision and dwellings.  Rural land use strategies are also used to address municipality-specific issues such as rural dwelling excisions, opportunities for economic diversification, intensive agriculture and rural dependent enterprises. 

Because the future of the Shire’s townships is dependent on the success of the Shire’s agricultural sector, the scope of the study has been widened to include recommending strategies for the Shire’s towns (Birchip, Charlton, Donald, Sea Lake and Wycheproof) and for rural living.  This part of the study will comprise a review of the recommendations of the ‘Residential Land Use Review’ and ‘Rural Living Development Study’ which were both adopted by Council in 2009.

The rural land use and settlement strategies for the Shire must be consistent with the higher level State and Regional planning policies which are set out in the Planning Policy Framework within the Buloke Planning Scheme.  These higher level policies include protection of the State’s agriculture base by preserving productive farmland including by containing new housing growth into existing settlements and discouraging the development of dwellings on isolated small lots in the rural zones.   

The Loddon Mallee North Regional Growth Plan (RGP) identifies Buloke Shire as forming part of the regional cropping, grazing and/or mixed use farming area in which Mildura is the focus for regional growth.  The RGP sets out the future directions and strategies for regional growth, together with implementation measures to deliver that growth.  The following RPG actions are of relevance to this Rural Land Use and Settlements Strategy:

·         Identifying and protecting areas of strategic significance for agriculture.

·         Encouraging emerging agribusiness and location clusters, including intensive animal industries.

·         Ensuring there is an adequate supply of commercial and industrial land for employment across the region.

·         Recognising and supporting the roles of Donald, Charlton, Wycheproof and Birchip as towns providing services to isolated and dispersed rural settlements and regionally important rural industries.

·         Supporting settlements to adjust to ongoing population decrease.


Work to be undertaken as part of the Rural Land Use & Settlements Strategy

The following work will be undertaken by the consultants in the preparation of this strategy:

For the rural areas

·         Identification and assessment of the State, Regional and Council’s own planning policies relevant to rural land use.

·         Consideration of the Planning Scheme provisions relating to cattle feedlots, poultry farms and pig farms, and of the planning policies and Council investment guidelines relating to these industries

·         Identify the Shire’s rural natural attributes, including climate, landform, soils, water, vegetation, land capability and quality.

·         Identify the rural activity and trends in the Shire’s rural areas.  This will examine land use patterns, cropping and grazing activities, the regional values attributable to the various activities, and the agricultural trends which are occurring in the Shire.

·         The planning implications of the above will be considered, including the appropriateness of the existing Farming Zone and controls, the opportunities for economic diversification, the opportunities for intensive farming and rural dependent enterprises, and the implications of rural dwelling excisions.

·         Recommendations will be made regarding the existing local policies relating to rural land use and sustainable agriculture (clause 22/02 of the Buloke Planning Scheme) and intensive animal industries (clause 22.03 of the Buloke Planning Scheme).

For the Shire’s settlements

·         Identification and assessment of the State and Regional planning policies relevant to the Shire’s settlements

·         Identification of the population trends in the Shire and the implications of these trends on settlement planning.

·         A review of Council’s adopted ‘Residential Land Use Review, 2009’ and its recommendations for Birchip, Charlton, Donald, Sea Lake and Wycheproof.

·         A review of Council’s adopted ‘Rural Living Development Study, 2009’.

·         Recommendations for the Shires’ five townships

·         Consideration of the demand and opportunities for rural living.

Your views are important

Public input to this study is invited to ensure the views of the Shire’s residents, farmers and other stakeholders are taken into consideration in the preparation of the draft report.  To this end, the consultants would be pleased to receive your views on the matters identified above and on any other matters that you consider relevant to the Rural Land Use and Settlements Strategy.

Your comments may be submitted to Council via post to PO Box 1 Wycheproof Victoria 3527 or email to

In addition, there is an opportunity to meet the consultants via appointment on Tuesday 9 July 2019 at the following times and locations:

·         Birchip Council Chamber 9.30-11.00am

·         Wycheproof Supper Room 1.30-3.00pm

Please contact Rodney Hotker to make an appointment on 1300 520 520.

In due course, a draft of the Rural Land Use and Settlements Strategy report will be placed on exhibition and public comment invited. The report will then be finalised and formally submitted to Council. In due course, the recommendations of the report would also need to be implemented by way of a Planning Scheme Amendment which would also be subject to an exhibition process.