City of Wodonga

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Planning for the Wodonga Hills Strategy FAQs

The exhibition period closes on September 22, 2017. See the full suite of documents on Make Wodonga Yours

Why do we need a hills strategy?

As the population of the city has increased, so too has the demand for access to the hills. A variety of activities currently occur across the hills including walking, running, cycling and mountain bike riding, birdwatching, sightseeing and athletics and fitness training events. There is unfortunately also an element of misuse, with antisocial behaviour and vandalism common across some sites.

The hills strategy aims to develop a planned approach to the management of our hills and will work to find a balance between environmental conservation, recreational opportunities and the tourism benefit they provide.

How has council consulted with the community?

Community consultation for this project commenced in July 2016.

There has been:

  • Three drop-in sessions at Federation, Hunchback and Huon hills;
  • An information session at The Cube Wodonga;
  • A series of eight workshops on each hill was held in March 2017; and,
  • The council website Make Wodonga Yours has been open throughout the process.

There has been changes made to the document as a result of community consultation and the current version is the third iteration of the draft documents.

These draft documents are now available for comment until September 22, 2017.

To this point, the council has received hundreds of pieces of feedback.

These consultation opportunities, and the project in general, have been promoted via the CityLife newsletter (delivered to 19,000 households monthly), via social media and the council website, e-newsletters, regular TV, radio and newspaper coverage, letter box drop and displays in the council offices.

Through this consultation process the community have clearly expressed that they place a very high value on the Wodonga hills for a range of reasons.

The strategy outlines a process for ongoing engagement with key stakeholders, including adjoining residents, prior to the implementation of any built elements or facilities (refer to Section 5 page 77).

I live near the bottom of a hill. Will the strategy mean my neighbourhood will have increased traffic and security fears? Will more people using our hills mean an increase in anti-social behaviour including illegal dumping, vandalism and 4WD activity?

The strategy aims to reduce the occurrence of these sorts of activities by formalising existing informal uses and looking at a co-ordinated approach to management.

The strategy sets out principles to ensure these matters are addressed when individual actions, for example a car parking proposal, are implemented. This includes use of the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED, refer to Section 3.1 at page 37) principles and further consultation with users and adjoining residents (refer to Section 5 page 77).

CPTED refers to an increase in passive or casual surveillance where the presence of more people means more opportunities to prevent crime, intervene or report a crime. They suggest crimes against people and property are less likely to occur if other people are around and people can see what is happening.

Four-wheel-driving is not supported in the planning for the hills and proposed new vehicle access to some hills has been removed in response to community feedback.

Does the strategy mean the community will face an increased fire risk?

The council has been working closely with the CFA throughout the process and will continue to do so. Feedback from the CFA to date has been included in the plans to ensure they are appropriate. Matters relating specifically to the management of fire risk are set out in detail in individual fire management plans, which sit alongside from the Planning for Wodonga’s Hills documents.

The council’s fire management plans are reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis to reflect changes in the community’s usage of the hills. Prevention measures - such as grazing, maintenance of fire trails and asset protection zones - will continue in consultation with the CFA.

Is the council considering the impacts on endangered flora and fauna and cultural heritage?

Yes, the council is considerate of the impacts and as the strategy indicates, this consideration is a priority. Existing information about flora, fauna and cultural heritage is a large part of all future planning.

Priority conservation and landscape protection zones have been identified at each site. These seek to exclude or limit any other uses and improve connections between habitat patches to ensure the long term health of the local environment. This has been strongly reinforced through the feedback so far.

A series of overall strategies (applying to all sites) identify the need for ongoing assessments and monitoring to increase our understanding of the natural values of each site in order to inform management and the design and implementation of other strategies (refer to Section 3.2.2 from page 43).

Feedback from the local Aboriginal community has specifically been sought to ensure appropriate emphasis is given to the identification and protection of places of Aboriginal significance and to recognise the opportunities to promote and share the knowledge of the local Aboriginal culture. The plans identify the need for ongoing consultation with the local Aboriginal community and Traditional Owners in the implementation of the strategy and master plans (refer to Strategy O.5 page 43).

I thought the hills were protected from development? I don't want developers to profit from our hills.

The hills are protected by the planning policy that recognises the natural and visual importance of the hills and protects them from urban development remains unchanged.

There are no proposals for any commercial or residential development in the hills. The strategy reinforces this and any proposed additional features include things like picnic tables and signage.

The hills are a beautiful backdrop for our city. Does this strategy mean there will be visible scars, tracks and facilities across the hills?

Ensuring the natural, peaceful setting of the hills and protecting their value as a visual backdrop to the city is a critical component of the plan (refer to Section 3.1 from page 35).

Continued improvement of vegetated areas and more plantings are a large part of the strategy.

Many of the proposals focus on making use of existing tracks and infrastructure in preference to building new facilities. The plans recognise there is a need for careful design and siting of any features, like picnic tables, to avoid disruptions to views of the hills from the residential area (refer to Section 3.1 from page 34). The type and character of visitor facilities must be appropriate to their setting (refer to Section 3.1 pages 36 and 37).

Is the focus of this strategy about attracting tourism and mountain biking to our hills?

The primary focus of this project is to improve outcomes on the hills for the benefit of the local community and for the protection and management of the environment. There are actions that relate to tourism, such as improving the facilities at the summit of Huon Hill (refer to the Huon Hill master plan) or creating a walking/cycle trail that connects all the hills (refer to Strategy Section 3.3 page 52). However, the majority of actions within the plan relate to providing or improving access for the community and improving environmental management practices. For example the vision for Federation Hill is ‘local leisure and fitness – a natural setting for every day leisure and recreation use’ (refer to the Federation Hill master plan).

Mountain biking is one of many uses that have been accommodated in the planning for the hills.

How much will all this cost the ratepayers?

The feedback process will determine the actions to be costed. The overall plan is very much long-term, with actions and strategies that will be 20 years in the making. Actions would be rolled out according to demonstrated need and the availability of funding. When an action is identified as a priority for implementation it will fully costed and assessed through the council’s annual budget process. Opportunities for external funding will also be explored. Some of the elements are quite simple include minimal track improvements, better signage and the like.

The strategy recognises the need to consider the long-term resources required to implement any proposal and maintain it to a high standard. Without certainty about the availability of resources, proposals should not be implemented and priority should be given to maintaining existing assets to an acceptable standard (refer to Sections 3.1 page 35 and Section 5).

 

 


Last updated: 19-09-2017

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