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Why prepare a Green Wedge Management Plan?

A Green Wedge Management Plan (GWMP) provides a framework to manage change in green wedges and includes actions to facilitate the framework.

A GWMP provides the opportunity to clearly articulate the kinds of development or activities that are likely to be supported in the green wedge. It provides clarity and certainty for all stakeholders, including landowners.

In addition to GWMPs, planning measures implemented to protect green wedges include:

  • the Urban Growth Boundary around Melbourne and townships within the green wedges
  • various planning scheme tools, including policies at clause 11.01-1 of the Planning Policy Framework, green wedge zoning and the Core Planning Provisions at clause 51.02
  • legislation under Part 3AA of the Planning and Environment Act 1987.

Planning schemes also have provisions that manage residential development, the outward growth of Melbourne and key features and related values of green wedges. GWMPs operate together with the various planning measures to help protect our green wedges.

What is expected for green wedges?

Individual GWMPs require a tailored approach to establish a clear role for the area with specific objectives and related actions. To ensure a metropolitan and regional approach, a GWMP can be prepared or reviewed by an individual council or by a group of councils where appropriate.

A GWMP should include a broad range of implementation tools with regulatory and non-regulatory measures. Regulatory actions may encompass changes to the local planning scheme to facilitate land use and development that protects and enhances the green wedge. A GWMP should also provide non-regulatory actions focusing on education and incentive programs aimed at encouraging landowners to adopt sustainable practices. Achievement of sustainable land use and land management practices are critical to the development of our green wedges.

Purpose of the green wedge management planning process

The purpose of a GWMP is to articulate the type, scale and form of change in the green wedge and how those changes will be managed and facilitated. A GWMP should:

  • Develop a vision. This should be determined through stakeholder engagement (including community consultation) and research.
  • Identify the values and features that are to be protected and enhanced. This should be based on a detailed environmental and land use inventory and stakeholder engagement (including community consultation).
  • Establish a strategic direction for land use and development that will protect and enhance the values and features identified within the green wedge. This should be based on key opportunities and constraints identified through research.
  • Articulate the strategic direction for the green wedge through the relevant planning scheme. This may involve a combination of:
    • identifying the vision, role and purpose of the green wedge in the Municipal Planning Strategy
    • green wedge zoning and the schedules to these zones
    • protecting identified values, environmental assets and resources using planning scheme tools such as overlays
    • local planning policy to guide discretionary use and development within the green wedge.
  • Establish a framework to encourage sustainable use, development and land management practices. This should involve:
    • developing and expanding initiatives aimed at environmental enhancement, including encouraging sustainable land management practices
    • identifying, supporting and setting priorities for sustainable land use and development options including agriculture and complementary uses
    • supporting or incorporating existing plans, strategies and activities that align with green wedge policies, such as; regional catchment strategies, regional management plans and natural resource plans
    • consideration of relevant plans and strategies related to natural resource management including fire management plans, catchment management plans and stream flow management plans
    • assessing the effectiveness of existing incentive and education programs.
  • Identify the needs of green wedge landowners and the wider community. Issues that should be examined include demographic considerations, economic sustainability, employment opportunities, sustainable land use options, community facilities and other infrastructure.
  • Establish a clear monitoring and review process to ensure the plan remains relevant and its performance can be measured. This should involve determining appropriate indicators and a commitment to review the plan every 10 years.

Process for preparing a Green Wedge Management Plan

Each green wedge is different. The nature of land uses and developments are diverse, the quality of the natural resource base and resource levels differ widely and the number of landowners and stakeholders varies. These differences influence the scope and detail of the green wedge management planning process.

Diagram 1 – Process for preparing a GWMP
  • Preparation work
    Determine the key stakeholders, project teams, consultation methods, scope of tasks and resources.
  • Information gathering
    Explore existing information, the policy context, identify gaps, undertake research and identify community views and issues.
  • Green wedge vision and objectives
    Develop a vision that outlines the preferred future direction for the green wedge.
    Determine objectives that will achieve the vision.
    Explore key indicators that can help measure whether the objectives are being achieved.
  • Review existing policies and programs
    Review the existing policies and programs that apply to or influence the green wedge.
    Will they deliver the vision and objectives?
    Do they need to be changed, enhanced and/or better resourced?
  • Developing actions
    Develop a series of actions that are designed to achieve the vision and objectives. Various options may need to be explored and tested with key stakeholders before arriving at the preferred actions.
  • Implementation
    This process will identify responsibilities, priorities, timelines and required resources. It should identify whether additional work is required such as future planning scheme amendments.
  • Monitoring and review
    This involves two steps. Firstly, it should establish a mechanism to measure the progress of implementation which may involve establishing an annual reporting process to council. Secondly, it should establish a process to review the GWMP to ensure the plan remains relevant and to measure the success of the plan in achieving the agreed vision and objectives.

A review of a GWMP would follow a similar process as identified above, but would benefit from the knowledge and understanding gained in the version being reviewed.

Principles of a Green Wedge Management Plan

Four principles were developed to support the preparation or review of a GWMP. These principles aim to ensure that a GWMP is consistent with government policy and has been prepared using a transparent, collaborative and inclusive approach. A GWMP process should be:

  1. consistent with state government policies and strategies
  2. collaborative
  3. well informed
  4. procedurally consistent.

1. Consistent with state government policies and strategies

A GWMP must be consistent with relevant state government policies and strategies.

2. Collaborative

A GWMP should be prepared or reviewed in partnership with:

  • government, relevant agencies and councils, in the context of their governance, leadership, infrastructure delivery and management roles
  • landowners and the community, in their role as the custodians of the area and as those that benefit from the land, who have a duty of care for the resource base

    Engagement should seek to build partnerships and promote community participation and shared ownership

    While there are divergent views on how green wedges are planned and managed, an important part of preparing or updating a successful GWMP is to ensure representatives of all relevant stakeholder groups have been identified and effectively engaged. In addition to increasing the chance of gaining a full picture of the issues affecting the green wedge, this approach assists stakeholder commitment to the long-term implementation of the plan.

3. Well informed

A GWMP should reflect the regional and local circumstances and needs of each green wedge, as well as the circumstances and needs that are shared with other relevant green wedge areas. It should provide a clear purpose that council is able and willing to implement and defend.

Preparation and review of a GWMP should involve a process of active engagement with the full range of stakeholders. The process should take into account the varying knowledge and views of relevant councils, government departments, agencies, community groups, organisations, landowners and the general public.

Previous local strategic work that is consistent with the policy intent of state government policies and strategies may be considered in the process and can provide a useful basis for the preparation or review of the plan.

Information held by government sources is also available to assist the preparation or review of the plan. A range of external information sources, such as Regional Catchment Strategies, Regional Management Plans, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics data can inform development of the plan.

4. Procedurally consistent

While the circumstances of each green wedge area varies, the administrative process for the preparation or review of a GWMP would generally be the same, including the establishment of:

  • A project steering group chaired by the council, with representatives from key stakeholders to oversee the preparation or review of the plan. The group would have the following responsibilities:
    • provide input into the preparation or review of a project plan
    • endorse key milestones of the GWMP
    • oversee project briefs for tasks to be undertaken, to assist in the preparation or review of the GWMP
    • ensure relevant and practicable levels of engagement take place to assist in research and preparation or review of the GWMP
    • oversee a publicised program of public display of draft plans and formal input to the development of the GWMP.
  • A working group to assist the project steering group in preparing or reviewing the GWMP, including:
    • prepare draft material
    • project management
    • organise stakeholder engagement.
  • Once a final GWMP is prepared, council should formally adopt the plan.
Diagram 2 – Roles when preparing a GWMP

Implementing a Green Wedge Management Plan

Each GWMP sets out a series of actions and measures that need to be undertaken to identify resource requirements, roles and responsibilities, timelines, outcomes and evaluation measures. This implementation program would include participation from council, government departments and agencies, relevant organisations, landowners and the community. A range of partnership agreements, memorandum of understanding and other implementation tools may be utilised.

A new or updated GWMP should be adopted by council. Where relevant, it is anticipated that aspects of the plan will be included or referenced in the municipal planning strategy or Local Planning Policy and will provide the strategic basis for reviewing existing planning provisions of the green wedge.

Any proposed changes to a planning scheme will require a planning scheme amendment which involves separate consultation processes and other requirements specified under the Planning and Environment Act 1987. Similarly, any proposed changes to a council’s municipal laws will also be subject to statutory processes specified in the Local Government Act 1989.

Role of the department

Our officers are available to assist councils in the preparation or review of a GWMP. We will provide support and assistance to councils by:

  • participating in the project steering and working groups as needed
  • liaising with the council and groups of councils
  • contributing to partnership arrangements or funding programs where possible.

It is anticipated that we will be involved in the development or review of each GWMP and be provided with an opportunity to comment on any draft GWMP prior to it being adopted by council.

Page last updated: 09/10/23


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