Horsham Rural City Council develops plan for Wartook Valley

HORSHAM Rural City has developed a plan for the future of Wartook Valley in a bid to resolve planning conflicts in the area.

The plan was developed because the current Horsham Planning Scheme did not provide clear guidance for what was considered appropriate development within Wartook Valley.

The strategy found that there was an opportunity for additional tourism businesses, including food retailing, farm gate produce and nature-based tourism, along with a demand for rural lifestyle lots.

The strategy also found that the Grampians Peak Trail was a key project that was likely to effect the area.

The plan aims to encourage rural lifestyle development, protect native fauna and flora, promote tourism ventures and activities, and discourage development that is inconsistent with the natural landscape.

Cr David Grimble said there needed to be procedures in place to assist with appropriate planning in Wartook Valley.

He said residents were divided over whether development should be allowed or not.

“If we are to progress, we should encourage development, but it should not detract from the natural environment,” he said.

“This strategy will give us guidance about how we should be setting our policies and procedures. 

“It aims to protect views in the national park, because at the moment there is nothing stopping someone building something inappropriate that will detract from the vista.”

Cr Josh Koenig said supporting appropriate development was the way to go. 

“We need development that will not obstruct views and would not create ‘main streets’,” he said.

“This is an exciting project – people wanted a decision and we are now moving to the next steps.”

Mayor Pam Clarke said the opinions and beliefs of Wartook Valley residents were extremely diverse.

“Whatever we do, it’s not going to be accepted by everyone,” she said.

“This plan gives some sense of security for the people out there.

“It’s not the end of the work though and people now have the opportunity to submit to the planning process.”

Cr Mark Radford said when you have an area that involves both farmland and a national park, there was always going to be a divide.

“There are people who live out there for the conservation side of things and there are people who are there for tourism purposes, so there is always going to be tension,” he said.