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Housing and Settlement Planning Assessment

Fog over Castlemaine

Council is preparing a Housing and Settlement Planning Assessment to guide development of the Shire's urban areas over the next 15 years. State planning policy within the Planning Scheme (Clause 11.02-1S Supply of Urban Land) identifies Council’s responsibility to ensure that the Shire has a 15 year land supply at all times.


Council’s current strategy - Cluster, Connect and Consolidation - was developed from the Urban Living Study in 2004. The main components of this strategy were:

• Urban consolidation and expansion in Castlemaine (including Campbells Creek);
• Urban containment and limited expansion at Maldon;
• Infill development at Newstead;
• Planned growth of Harcourt, Taradale and Elphinstone;
• Improving transport connections between Castlemaine and other towns;
• Limited growth of other towns.

The Urban Living Study predicted significant population growth for the shire, and household growth. Actual population growth has been below the level predicted by the Urban Living Study. However the growth in the number of dwellings in the Shire is similar to projections in the Urban Living Strategy, but is different at township level.

Download a copy of the 2004 Mount Alexander Urban Living Study.

In 2015 Council’s Strategic Planning team commenced an Urban Growth Strategy, the purpose of which was to review the existing Mount Alexander Urban Living Study (2004) and to bring this together with current data to create a cohesive framework for managing the future urban growth of the Shire.

The Urban Growth Strategy was never completed due to a number of factors including changes to State Planning Policy (e.g. bushfire policy) and State Government planning directions, internal resourcing constraints, and changes to the Strategic Planning team’s preferred methodology for settlement planning.

Why is the Housing and Settlement Planning Assessment being undertaken?

The purpose of the assessment is to:

- Review and analyse technical data and information relating to housing and settlement planning in the context of strategic land use planning in Victoria.

- This is to include an analysis of the planning policy and strategic context, demographic data and forecasts, and land supply and demand.

- Test the assumption that the existing overarching framework for the management of settlement growth (as identified in the Urban Living Study 2004) and development is still relevant.

- This is to ensure that there is a clear direction on locations where growth should occur and that there is a sufficient supply of residential land that can accommodate projected population growth over the next 15 years.

What is the scope of the Housing and Settlement Planning Assessment?

The Housing and Settlement Planning Assessment is a high-level, Shire-wide assessment driven by analysis of key data. It includes an analysis of the planning policy and strategic context, demographic data and forecasts, land supply and demand, housing needs and affordable housing. The Assessment will specifically consider residential development in urban areas but it will also include a high-level analysis of rural residential land. It will not consider industrial, and commercial land or development, other than to the extent they affect residential development. The urban areas are to include:

• Castlemaine (including Campbells Creek, McKenzie’s Hill and Diamond Gully)
• Harcourt
• Chewton
• Maldon
• Newstead
• Taradale
• Elphinstone

The key outputs of the assessment include the collection of data which will inform future work at a township level, identification of further strategic work (including reviewing and updating the town framework plans – similar to the approach to Harcourt through the Plan Harcourt project) a rural living strategy, and, if required, updated local planning policy.

Has work commenced on the Housing and Settlement Planning Assessment?

Yes, the collection and analysis of the Shire’s land supply and demand data has commenced and this has informed preliminary population and housing forecasts for the Shire. This data is publicly available here.

The preliminary data indicates that there is still sufficient, residentially zoned land in the Shire to meet our projected population growth over the next 15 years. It is therefore not expected that this assessment will recommend substantial changes to the existing strategy for settlement directions, nor result directly in the proposed rezoning of land to residential.

Why does Council monitor land supply and demand?

Regular land supply and demand monitoring is one component of the ongoing strategic planning work that needs to be undertaken by Council to provide for housing choice, diversity and affordability, encourage investment, economic resilience and diversity, and for the supply of infrastructure in a co-ordinated, efficient and orderly way.

Council is committed to establishing an ongoing, best-practice program of monitoring and reporting on land supply and demand in collaboration with the State Government, to maintain an understanding of the issues facing the Mount Alexander Shire community.

What is place-based planning?

Place-based planning is Council’s preferred approach to settlement planning, and was the methodology employed for Plan Harcourt. While Council is required to monitor and review land supply and demand at a Shire-wide level, which will be done via the Housing and Settlement Planning Assessment, the place-based approach will be used when it comes to more detailed land use planning for each town within the Shire.

This kind of approach targets the specific circumstances of a place and engages local people as active participants in development and implementation, which means that decision-making is shared and collaborative. This allows us to pay attention to local needs and wants, leverage the passion and expertise of local people, and really understand the character of a place.

Following the completion of the Housing and Settlement Planning Assessment, Council will use the place-based approach when it comes to reviewing and updating town Framework Plans.

More Information

For further information, please contact Council’s Strategic Planning team on (03) 5471 1700 or email

This page will be updated as the Assessment progresses. Contact us if you'd like to speak with a member of our Strategic Planning Team about the Housing and Settlement Planning Assessment.

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