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Shire-wide Settlement Planning Assessment

Fog over Castlemaine

We’re reviewing the shire’s highest level planning directions for population and housing growth.

State Planning Policy requires Councils to plan to accommodate projected population growth over at least a 15 year period and provide clear direction on locations where growth should occur. Policy also requires that:

• Housing growth is directed into existing settlements.
• Population growth and development is directed to low bushfire risk locations.

What is the scope of the Settlement Planning Assessment?

The Assessment provides a high-level analysis of:

• The policy context including state, regional and local planning policy directions and strategic influences, and relevant Ministerial Directions and planning practice notes.
• Population, household and housing trends in the Shire.
• Population and housing forecasts for the Shire.
• Municipal land supply and demand.
• Issues and opportunities relating to housing and settlement planning for the towns in the Shire.
• The current strategic directions for settlement (townships, settlement and growth) at Clause 02.03-1 of the Mount Alexander Planning Scheme.

What are the key findings of the Settlement Planning Assessment?

The Assessment finds that the current strategic directions for settlement planning in the Shire remain relevant, having regard to the planning policy context, population, household and housing data and forecasts and the municipal land supply and demand assessment.

These are:

Castlemaine and Campbells Creek will continue to be the main population centre in the Shire into the future. This is supported by the Loddon Mallee South Regional Growth Plan (2014) that identifies Castlemaine as having regional significance in terms of growth.

Maldon will continue to be a key retail centre in the Shire to support residents in the town and surrounding rural areas, and will also continue to serve an important tourism role. Urban expansion will continue to be limited in Maldon due to bushfire hazards surrounding the town and to protect significant landscapes.

Newstead will continue to be a local community centre providing services to residents in the town and surrounding rural areas. Growth in Newstead is to continue to be encouraged, however this needs to be carefully managed through further strategic work.

Harcourt will continue to be a local community centre and place for growth. This is to be guided and managed through Plan Harcourt (2020) and its implementation via Planning Scheme Amendment C94malx. Tourism and agricultural opportunities will also continue be encouraged in and around Harcourt.

Taradale and Elphinstone will continue to be small villages where growth is to be encouraged subject to reticulated sewerage.

What are the key state planning policy considerations?

Since the last Shire-wide settlement strategy was prepared several substantial changes have been made to state planning policy relevant to planning for settlement growth and development. Most significantly, Bushfire Planning policy (at Clause 12.02-1S) requires greater consideration of bushfire hazards in settlement planning and the need to direct growth and development to low risk locations.

State planning policy for settlement also clearly requires that a municipality plan to accommodate projected population growth over at least a 15-year period and provide clear direction on locations where growth should occur, and that this residential land supply will be considered on a municipal basis, rather than a town-by-town basis. The State Government’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) Planning Practice Note 90 (PPN90), published in December 2019, also provides direction for planning for housing. This includes the process for creating a municipal-wide residential development framework and how to use the residential zones to implement strategic work.

What is a land supply and demand assessment? Why does Council monitor land supply and demand?

The municipal land supply and demand assessment assesses the development potential of all residential land within the municipality and the current levels and key drivers of residential land demand across the Shire. The land supply includes existing vacant lots that measure below a set subdivision threshold (depending on where it is located), lots in the process of being subdivided, larger lots that are deemed to have subdivision potential and greenfield areas with subdivision potential.

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 are the key findings of the land supply and demand assessment?

The assessment has found that there is at least 15 years of land supply in the Shire to meet forecast demand for residential development. This is made up of 4,342 lots to meet the forecast demand of 2,750 lots through to 2041.

The majority of residential land supply is provided within Castlemaine followed by Campbells Creek, both accounting for around 55 per cent of residential land in the Shire. Other supply is mainly provided through smaller isolated parcels spread throughout various townships.

While the land supply and demand assessment has been prepared at a particular point in time, the Assessment recommends that a review of municipal land supply and demand is conducted in four years’ time following the preparation of other settlement planning work. In particular, the housing and neighbourhood character strategies could influence land supply data should there be a mismatch between recommendations for change and the land supply estimated as part of this assessment.

More Information

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

How does the Assessment fit into Council's approach to settlement planning?

Council’s approach to settlement planning in the Shire has been informed by State planning policy and guidance, including planning practice notes. The framework consists of the preparation of an overarching, municipal assessment that addresses state planning policy regarding land supply and demand. Importantly, the framework considers the advantages of place-based planning and the resourcing levels of a small rural council. As a result, the framework also includes the preparation of town-based plans and studies, including Housing and Neighbourhood Character Strategies. Public consultation is to play a key role in the preparation of these town-based plans and strategies.

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