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Council adopts growth plan for Harcourt

People gathering around at Harcourt Bowling Club.

Council has adopted a strategic plan to guide the growth of Harcourt and will seek authorisation from the Minister for Planning to prepare an amendment to the local planning scheme to implement the plan.

Monday 27 July 2020

Mount Alexander Shire Council has adopted a strategic plan to guide the growth of Harcourt and will seek authorisation from the Minister for Planning to prepare an amendment to the local planning scheme to implement the plan.

Council adopted Plan Harcourt at the Ordinary Meeting of Council this week. The strategic plan provides a blueprint for land use planning and town centre design. It also includes economic development initiatives guided by the town’s identity, heritage and community aspirations.

The strategic plan includes a Harcourt Framework Plan outlining the proposed planning policy, zones and overlay controls to be incorporated into the Mount Alexander Planning Scheme.

There are also recommendations for town activation projects to guide the look, feel and function of the town centre and improve pedestrian access to build a sense of place and community connection. The ideas will be further explored in a Harcourt town centre urban design plan to be developed as a short-term priority.

The Harcourt Framework Plan was developed alongside an economic development plan called Shine Harcourt Leanganook, which sits as an appendix to the plan. Shire Harcourt Leanganook identifies five big strategic directions and a collection of community driven ideas to be rolled out over time with a focus on the town’s heritage, natural assets and agritourism.

The ambitions focus on themes of story, collaboration, cultural heritage on Country, local food production and growth plans that express the town’s distinct character and personality.

The two interrelated projects are aligned on a map outlining actions in the plan under the areas of planning policy reform, town centre activation and economic enabling initiatives.

Harcourt is identified for residential expansion and population growth in the Mount Alexander Planning Scheme and the Loddon Mallee South Regional Growth Plan. The town is expected to supply a large share of residential land supply in the shire in the coming 15 to 30 years.

While more than 900 residents call Harcourt home, the main township area has a population of around 600. The township could accommodate up to an additional 1,200 people over the next 15 years depending on different development scenarios.

“Plan Harcourt was developed based on extensive consultation with the community over the past two years to understand local needs and aspirations, and get everyone involved in the process,” said Cr Christine Henderson, Mayor of Mount Alexander Shire.

“This strategic plan was needed to ensure there is enough land supply and infrastructure to accommodate growth, create jobs, and attract more services to the town, while protecting important assets such as agricultural land use, the irrigation network and other natural and cultural features,” said Mayor Henderson.

“Council has taken great care to develop a plan to ensure future change builds on the town’s unique character, and that any development occurs in a coordinated way. Council staff will continue to work in partnership with community and stakeholders to bring this plan to life.”

Some of the proposed changes in Plan Harcourt include:

  • Rezoning town expansion areas from farming to township zones to accommodate growth.
  • Applying a Development Plan Overlay to land in future town expansion areas, with a process for collecting developer contributions for critical infrastructure in the area
  • Inserting a schedule to the township zone with objectives to maintain neighbourhood character, vary some residential development standards and mandate maximum building height
  • Rezoning some land within the town centre from township to commercial zone to promote a centre of commercial and community activity
  • Applying a Design and Development Overlay to land in the town centre.

Council will now proceed to seek authorisation from the Minister for Planning to prepare an amendment to the planning scheme to introduce the recommended policy, zoning and overlay changes identified in the plan. This process is expected to take around 18 months and will include a public exhibition and submissions process.

For more information visit www.mountalexander.vic.gov.au/PlanHarcourt

About Harcourt:
Harcourt is just minutes off the Calder freeway with easy access to Melbourne, Bendigo and Castlemaine, and nearby rail services. It has a primary school, civic hall, and a variety of recreation facilities, sports clubs and interest groups.

Harcourt is also home to a proactive community with an active progress association and business network. It is well placed to take advantage of nature-based tourism opportunities like the Goldfields Track and world class mountain bike park La Larr Ba Gauwa Park, as well as a new miniature railway, while drawing on its reputation for apples, wines, cider, juices and local produce, and strong cultural heritage.

Image: Harcourt community members provided significant input to the plan.

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