Image for A miscarriage of justice ...

*Pic: Chudleigh landscape picture by Gwenda Sheridan… the higher areas in the middle-ground are where the subdivision is planned ...

The Mayor and All Councillors and
Mr Greg Preece, The General Manager and
Mr Martin Gill, Development Services Director
Meander Valley Council
26 Lyall Street
Westbury 7303
Sent By Email,

CC: Ms Jo Oliver, Senior Planner, MVC.

Regarding DEV 1 Amendment 4/2015
Meander Valley Interim Planning Scheme 2013 – Rural Living Zone
Opposition to Proposed Subdivision Rights – The Chudleigh North Rural Living Zone

Dear Messrs and Mesdames,

We and those listed below for whom I speak oppose the proposed subdivision rights for The Chudleigh North Rural Living Zone of Meander Valley Council’s (MVC) Amendment 4/2015.

Council is making a decision at its 8th December 2015 meeting to introduce subdivision rights over various Rural Living Zones, including allowing for subdivision down to a minimum lot size of 10 Ha for the area now ubiquitously known as Chudleigh North. This step, regarding Chudleigh North RLZ is vehemently opposed. This would be completely absurd and unfair given there is substantial but unresolved objection to this specific RLZ proposal since 2013.

I write further to:

1. Our representation to Council regarding the Meander Valley Council 2013 Interim Planning Scheme, dated 3rd December 2013,

2. Our 10th March 2015 response to the Council’s Section 30J report,

3. Our late representation to the TPC dated the 8th June 2015,

4. The 9th December 2014 Northern Schemes Directions Hearing, which I attended, as well as,

5. Our letter of the 5th January 2015 to MVC’s Ms Oliver,

6. Our 23rd January 2015 letter to Council,

7. Our 5th May 2015 letter to the Tasmanian Planning Commission (TPC), as well as,

8. The TPC hearing/meetings into the Meander Valley Council 2013 Interim Planning Scheme of 10th and 25th of June 2015 and 16th of July 2015, where Mr Andrew Ricketts represented us at the hearing/ meeting and,

9. Our recent letter to the TPC dated 24th November 2015.

I also raise the fact that both Council and the TPC are in receipt of the Chudleigh Community Representation, which I lodged for and on behalf of the community, which also dealt with and opposed the Rural Living Zone at Chudleigh North. It is the wish of by far the majority of the residents of Chudleigh that this matter of the Chudleigh North Rural Living Zone not be progressed.

This representation was signed by J Hawkins, P Reeve, R Hawkins, A Owen Smith, L Window, C Von Pirch, G Bingley, B Daw, M Wells, S Wilson, B Stafford, T Bussey, F Morrison, C Wojcick, C Holmes, L Dare, B Meshman, S Haydon, M Wilson, C Franklin, R Eastley, B Ager, M Oliver, P Oliver, A McGregor, T Badcock, N Ritchie, J Mores, K Bourne, J Wells, R Reeve, W Williams, L Haberle, N Byard, A Stiboy, M Haberle, L McGregor, J McGregor, R Broome, J Jones, S Manners, M Manners, C Gleeson, M Gleeson, A Haberle, S White, K Haberle, N Haberle, J Jeffrey, J Roser, H Roser, K & D Burford, O Rogers, F Rogers, E Webb, J Chilcott, N Cramp, J Palfrey, D Palfrey, K Byard, L Scott, A Kelly, R Barrett, C Riley, and S Rice.

Some 65 people signed it.

Our personal representations were detailed, well-reasoned, sound and in many but not all, instances Council has responded positively and adopted our wise recommendations. The Community representation although more brief was unambiguous, succinct and clear. We cannot understand why Council has not listened over the Chudleigh North Rural Living Zone.

In this letter today, we refer to Chudleigh North and Chudleigh South Rural Living Zones (RLZ). However, in the Meander Valley Interim Planning Scheme Amendment 4/2015 the two areas, although separate physically and despite having significantly different characteristics lot sizes and in fact, in every other way, have inexplicably been lumped together in the MVC planner’s report (see pp 24 and 25 of the report). This consolidation of the two unconnected and disjunct Rural Living Zones, albeit located at Chudleigh, potentially leads to confusion.

One Zone area is deemed acceptable and the other is not. To be clear we oppose Chudleigh North and are in favour of Chudleigh South. Indeed we have been consistently and formally opposing what is now known as Chudleigh North since the matter was first raised.

Chudleigh South lies within the urban growth boundary of the Historic township of Chudleigh but is south of the town. It is supported.

Chudleigh North RLZ is an area on the northern side of the Lobster Rivulet on the Mersey Hill up Mersey Hill Rd and Coopers Rd. The area is highly visible from the town and many public vantage points and has a significant bucolic scenic beauty, which we and those who live in this village those whom you are supposed to represent consider would be marred by the conversion of the rural landscape into what must be considered to be a rural residential one.

We note from our original representation, the inclusion of a small part of the scenic management zone proposal we sought over the whole Chudleigh Valley is being applied to the Chudleigh North RLZ but the rest of our valid cultural heritage landscape proposal seemingly has been discarded by MVC.

The future of our region will be significantly enhanced by the retention of the scenic character of our amazing cultural heritage landscapes. They easily can and are being harmed. Scenic protection is supported.

Our claims against the Chudleigh North RLZ are supported by the Northern Regional Land Use Strategy and the Protection of Agricultural Land Policy.

The simple fact is, Chudleigh North RLZ is good productive agricultural land with excellent soil.

In relation to Chudleigh North Rural Living Zone we believe Council’s amendment fails to adequately demonstrate that the proposal, that is the zone proposal itself and the current proposal for its amended subdivision rights would be in accordance with State Policies and with the Northern Regional Land Use Strategy as well as the Objectives of Schedule 1 of The Act.

Chudleigh North RLZ does contain quality agricultural land, which is needed for production. Council’s planning section is aware of this fact but has overlooked this relevant consideration.

Chudleigh North RLZ indisputably and undeniably fragments productive rural land.

Chudleigh North RLZ with its now proposed subdivision rights is highly likely to constrain agriculture and its development in this area. Council’s planning section is aware of the inevitability of this fact but has overlooked this relevant consideration.

Chudleigh North RLZ currently is not a rural residential area but rather has a few small lots along roadsides. In terms of the predominant land use, on an area basis, the area is dominated by farming and rural resource land use.

The 45 Ha property referred to in the planner’s report is a part of a larger rural dairy property. This dairy is a viable agricultural business. Meander Valley Council’s subdivision proposition is flagging the wrecking of a dairy farm.

The area known currently as Chudleigh North RLZ should revert to the Rural Zone, which it was prior to the MVCIPS.

Our Genuine Process Concerns

As you know we would have preferred a formal hearing, as we were entitled when the hearing process into the Northern Schemes belatedly started, back in November 2014.

However despite our protests, on the 1st January 2015, our rights to a fair and proper hearing into Meander Valley’s Interim Scheme were abolished by way of legislative amendment.

Importantly, I consider that in regards to the substantially diminished 2015 TPC role under its informal meeting process, the Chudleigh North Rural Living Zone, being the matter although raised by us, remains unresolved and undecided as to whether there should even be a Rural Living Zone at this location at all. But under an Interim Planning Scheme an amendment such as Amendment 4/2015 can be unjustly interposed over our objection.

Meander Valley Council’s Amendment 4/2015 has the temerity to progress subdivision rights in the face of either an avoidance or abrogation by the TPC regarding an outcome to its hearing/meeting process held earlier in 2015 where conveniently where no decision has yet been handed down.

We consider that an indisputable denial of procedural fairness is certainly occurring. We will be rightly aggrieved and consider we are being inflicted with a further process when the previous one had not finalised. Clearly this is also against the Schedule 1 objective to: “encourage public involvement in resource management and planning.”. Cognitively, injustice is never a surrogate for encouragement, nor is it at any stage encouraging. Please understand how offensive injustice such as this is.

In the event you decide to support and pass this planning scheme amendment as is, then under great sufferance, we would have no option but to further object to the intractable proposition of Chudleigh North RLZ, especially should it either persist or be enlivened with subdivision rights.

If so required we will take this much reviled injustice to the High Court. The matter has now been fully documented through the good offices of Mr Ricketts and carefully detailed and explained to you all. It is opposed by nearly all the residents of the village and the local Chudleigh community. This is not just an idle threat you are elected to represent the ratepayers resident in this small community you are not doing so you are not listening to us and you seem to underestimate our determined opposition.

I suggest that the Council would most certainly lose at great cost to the ratepayers.

At this stage the TPC’s meeting/hearing process remains unresolved.

I wrote to the TPC’s Mr Alomes on the 24th November 2015 seeking the TPC provides as a matter of urgency: “an indication over the following matters please. Firstly, the time frame or deadline when the TPC will hand down its decision over the Meander Valley Council 2013 Interim Planning Scheme matters over which it has held hearings/meetings during 2015. Secondly, we implore the finalisation and provision of a TPC decision in relation to its MVCIPS hearing/meeting process. Will in fact there even be a decision by the TPC and what form and force will it have? We seek a decision as an urgent priority and believe it is warranted.”

Please Note: Although I urged urgency from the TPC on the 24th November 2015, I have heard nothing from the Tasmanian Planning Commission.

It is not our fault the TPC processes are unacceptably slow. It is not our fault MVC delayed the production of its Section 30J Report. We met our deadlines.

In Conclusion

Chudleigh North subdivision rights remain a highly contentious issue.

Certainly it was our strong and well argued representation regarding the Meander Valley Council 2013 Interim Planning Scheme that there should not be the Chudleigh North Rural Living Zone at all and heaven forbid, in the event of there continuing to be one at this location there should certainly be no subdivision permitted as per the current Amendment 4/2015.

It is an anthema that our objection has been thwarted and remains unresolved whilst this zone has ostensibly existed since December 2013 under the MVCIPS. This is a miscarriage of justice.

Indeed we consider the whole proposition for the Chudleigh North Rural Living Zone should be quashed now.

Yours sincerely,

John Hawkins

• Pete Godfrey in Comments: … It would be a shame to put in a rural subdivision overlooking Chudleigh. In theory in a democratic society if the residents don’t want it, then it should not go ahead. Unless of course a relative of a councillor owns the land then blood overrides all.

• John Hawkins in Comments: … If at the end it can be shown that our decision makers have failed to consider a relevant consideration - or have considered an irrelevant one (such as Council’s or in the upcoming TPC process) - we will have the right to a judicial review in the Supreme Court of Tasmania. This may yet prove to be a most interesting case in the State with no Landscape Legislation and in which our political masters will not legislate for Cultural Landscapes to control the ‘clear fell and burn logging’ industry or any other sort of landscape scarring. I hope that Chudleigh North may eventually be finally canned, leaving the cows in peace, setting a precedent to protect this beautiful place. They know I am right and that they have ignored a serious public interest matter.