After roughly seven years of planning for Traralgon’s future expansion, Latrobe City Council officers can breathe a sigh of relief.
On Monday night councillors agreed to implement most of the Traralgon Growth Areas Review framework into the Latrobe Planning Scheme – a decision that now awaits the State Planning Minister’s approval.
The TGAR amendment seeks to introduce strategies and structure plans for the ‘Traralgon West Growth Corridor’ and update those in place for Morwell, Traralgon, Tyers and Glengarry.
But it has endured several debates and delays while council played the balancing act to deal with the concerns of residents, government departments and industry.
“Traralgon is heavily constrained, so to be able to grow it involves some lateral thinking,” Latrobe City general manager of city development Phil Stone said.
“To the north we have a flood plain, to the west we have a heavy industry nearby… and to the south we have a coal mine, a rather big one. In order to grow Traralgon we need some really good, long-term planning. That’s what TGAR does.”
Mr Stone said the amendment involved two controversial issues “in the eyes of the community” – the proposed buffers surrounding the Australian Paper Maryvale Mill and AGL Loy Yang’s coal mine.
Last year a ministerial-appointed panel made 10 recommendations to council after it considered submissions from residents and industry.
Its suggestion to temporarily double an existing coal buffer in Traralgon’s south east – from one kilometre to two – effectively blindsided council officers and landowners alike.
Council has rejected that proposal after seeking expert advice and will instead request the minister to conduct a risk assessment of mining-related impacts on the Traralgon south area.
“Council officers decided to get its own independent expert evidence, which refuted that evidence (provided by AGL’s expert witness in the planning panel) around the risk of subsidence near the mine,” Mr Stone said.
“(The amendment) has been adopted without the extra kilometre buffer.
“We have identified it as an opportunity, but not to do anything until we get information back from State Government – it is a matter for government, not for council.”
Council will also seek a meeting with the relevant ministers to discuss coal-related issues that affect land use planning in the Latrobe Valley.
Most of the TGAR framework, including better protection for Latrobe Regional Airport and potential for retail centres in certain areas, will now go to Planning Minister Richard Wynne for his approval.