Bacchus Marsh Urban Growth Framework

Amendment C081 to the Moorabool Shire Planning Scheme

The Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) and Moorabool Shire Council jointly prepared the Bacchus Marsh Urban Growth Framework, which was approved by the Minister for Planning and gazetted on the 6 December 2018 under Amendment C081 to the Moorabool Shire Planning Scheme.

To view a final copy of the amendment and associated documents, refer to:

The framework identifies new areas for jobs, housing and infrastructure, while protecting valuable cultural and environmental assets. With Bacchus Marsh’s population anticipated to more than double to 50,000 residents by 2041, this plan will ensure growth is logical, sequenced and holistic.

Key features of the plan include the Parwan employment precinct, to the south of the town, which is anticipated to create 1,500 new agribusiness jobs. Important infrastructure upgrades, including the proposed future Parwan Train Station and the Eastern Link arterial road, will play a crucial role in facilitating travel to and from Bacchus Marsh.

The plan also includes a district boundary for Bacchus Marsh, to contain development to suitable areas.

The Urban Growth Framework (UGF) identifies the following growth areas:

  • Merrimu Residential Growth Precinct
  • Parwan Employment Growth Precinct
  • Parwan Station Residential & Commercial Precinct
  • Hopetoun Park North Residential Expansion Area

The VPA and Moorabool Shire Council will now undertake more detailed planning for the precincts identified in the plan.

Background information

The UGF is a strategic document jointly prepared by the VPA and Council. It will guide growth to 2041 and beyond. The document will earmark land for growth and coordinate and sequence required infrastructure. Additionally, it will seek to enhance the character that makes Bacchus Marsh an attractive place to live.

The population of Bacchus Marsh is estimated to double over the next two decades towards 40,000 residents. A UGF is needed to guide this growth appropriately and maximise Bacchus Marshs exceptional mix of locational, economic and aesthetic appeal.

Bacchus Marsh is a vibrant community, rich in resources and set in a very unique landscape. The Western Freeway provides an easy commute to Melbourne, as does the train line; Bacchus Marsh is no longer a quiet country town far from the City. The unique combination of green landscapes and urban amenities distinguishes Bacchus Marsh from other regional areas and is why new members are choosing to live in the community.

Growth is happening now and will continue to happen. The current population of some 20,000 people is predicted to more than double by 2041. Growth is an opportunity to encourage investment and local prosperity, provided it is well planned. This is the purpose of the UGF.

Project information

The UGF applies to approximately 140 square kilometres of land in the Bacchus Marsh district as depicted on the map overleaf, including the urban and rural areas of Bacchus Marsh, Darley and Maddingley, together with the rural fringe areas of Merrimu, Parwan, Hopetoun Park, Coimadai (part), Long Forest (part), Pentland Hills (part) and Rowsley (part).

Please refer to Map 1 within the brochure and draft UGF for details.

To be effective, the UGF needs to address all the issues relevant to Bacchus Marsh’s management of growth over the next 20-25 years.  This means addressing new urban growth opportunities to meet the wider goals of accommodating future housing growth and local jobs. It also means addressing a number of associated strategic planning issues within Bacchus Marsh including road networks, pedestrian and cycle routes and community infrastructure.

The PEP is a major initiative. The PEP holds significant economic and employment growth potential for Bacchus Marsh, with the ability to attract high levels of new industrial investment. To achieve this, it must be serviced, protected against residential encroachment, and properly marketed. The PEP is beneficially located within the Bacchus Marsh food bowl, close to markets and away from residential land. It has the capacity to accommodate value-add and high amenity impact businesses, particularly those seeking to relocate to more affordable and unencumbered land close to Melbourne. Sufficient supply of serviced and zoned land will attract these investment opportunities. This land is most suited to agriculture and related uses due to its soil quality, proximity to the BMID and ability to be serviced with potable or non-potable water depending on industry needs and availability of supply.

The importance and potential of the PEP is recognised at the state level and government will undertake planning work to develop this precinct in the short term.

A neighbourhood activity centre has been nominated for this precinct.

Additionally, the western and southern portions of this precinct are encumbered by amenity buffers that seek to protect existing commercial land uses.  These areas may have potential for new commercial land uses (i.e. not sensitive uses) which support either the Parwan Employment Precinct or the residential community within the Parwan Station Precinct.  Any new commercial land uses within these amenity buffer areas must not generate any additional need for buffers from sensitive uses.

Next steps

Amendment C81 does not rezone any land.  It aims to provide a strategic framework for determining where future urban growth precincts and employment growth precincts will occur.

Future planning scheme amendments will be required to rezone land to facilitate master-planned urban development.  The preparation and implementation of either a precinct structure plan (PSP) or a development plan will be integral to any rezoning.  Prior to commencement of any urban development a significant amount of detailed technical assessments are required to inform the future structure and vision for an area. These matters include environmental values/risks, stormwater and drainage management, cultural heritage (i.e. indigenous and European), infrastructure provision, integrated transport and community facilities.

Any future planning scheme amendment will be exhibited and notices will be sent to all affected landowners and occupiers. Any planning scheme amendment proposal will need to address the Strategic Assessment Guidelines for Preparing and Evaluating Planning Scheme Amendments (Planning Practice Note 46).

How will the community and local businesses be affected?

No, land will not be rezoned under Planning Scheme Amendment C81.

The draft UGF identifies future urban growth precincts such as Merrimu, Parwan Station and Hopetoun Park North. Any rezoning of these areas will be subject to a separate amendment process and will require considerable on-ground detailed planning and further analysis to identify environmental constraints and finalise exact boundaries, transport networks, utilities such as gas, open space, densities of development and community infrastructure. The draft UGF aims to provide strategic underpinning to support the rezoning of land in future, subject to detailed justification.

Rates are linked to the value of a property as assessed by an independent valuer every two years. For properties within an identified growth precinct, it is possible that property values could change before the land is rezoned.

To determine property values throughout the municipality, a qualified valuer is engaged by Council.  The valuation assesses the amount a property would sell for at a specific date. The latest property sales, rental data, land type, buildings and their condition as well as other property improvements are also analysed as part of the valuation process.

The valuation determined by a valuer reflects the highest and best use of the land.  If there is speculative buying of land in the area, then Council valuations and rates may increase before any rezoning occurs.

Rates are calculated in accordance with the Moorabool Municipal Rates Strategy.  For more information on how rates are calculated please click here.

Please note that the planning scheme amendment process is unable to consider any potential impact on property values and rates.

Community engagement

Council and the VPA will ensure that all affected landowners and occupiers are consulted at appropriate stages of the planning process.


Future changes

The UGF identifies two areas for further investigation and potential transition to other uses in the long term.  These areas will be investigated for new land uses compatible with existing buffers and site locational attributes.

Darley Sand Quarries Investigation Area:

Protection of this resource in the short–medium term is critical for Melbourne.  However, as the resource is exhausted (and following rehabilitation), there may be opportunities for this area to transition towards other land uses. Following an investigation into the quarry and future land use (see project reference 24) a range of potential land use outcomes may be considered, including non-urban uses such as open space subject to a range of considerations.

Maddingley Employment Investigation Area:

This investigation area is located between the Maddingley Brown Coalmine and the existing urban area and also extends to the south and west of the existing Maddingley industrial area. The future of this area is guided by existing residential interfaces and future development of PEP. This area is mostly comprised of farming and lifestyle properties.

This area should be investigated for non-sensitive land uses compatible with existing sensitive use interfaces.

The Victorian Government has invested $3 million to undertake a planning study for an Eastern Link Road to address future urban growth and congestion through the heart of Bacchus Marsh. The planning study will investigate potential impacts a north-south link will have in the area, identify a route and seek approvals so land can eventually be integrated into the Moorabool Planning Scheme.

This project is being led by VicRoads and there will be an opportunity to comment separately as part of that process. Further information is available on the VicRoads website.

Supporting Documentation