Merrimu Precinct Structure Plan
The Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) is working with Moorabool Shire Council to prepare a Precinct Structure Plan (PSP) and Infrastructure Contributions Plan (ICP) for 7,200 lots and 1,800 jobs at Merrimu (Bacchus Marsh).
Merrimu is a large land ensemble with relatively few constraints. It has potential for self-sufficient residential development, accommodating growth to 2042 and beyond whilst integrating landscape values. Merrimu will provide local job opportunities and will be pivotal in delivering the Eastern Link Road.
The Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) plans for growth in new suburbs in the urban growth boundary and renewal sites in parts of metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. It reports to the Minister for Planning.
The VPA has a substantial role as the state strategic planning authority across Victoria, working closely with councils, government agencies and the planning and development community on integrated land use and infrastructure coordination for strategically important development sites and precincts.
Our major tasks include unlocking the land for new homes and communities, facilitating housing diversity and affordability, job creation and better development of new communities in new and established areas, such as Bacchus Marsh.
The Minister for Planning has appointed the VPA to lead this project from conception to finalisation. Throughout the project, we will work closely with Moorabool Shire Council, State Government agencies and local community members to ensure the plan considers and reflects their input.
A precinct structure plan is a high-level strategic plan prepared by a planning authority that sets out the preferred location of land uses and infrastructure. It also guides the staging of development, subdivision permits, building permits and infrastructure delivery.
- First, the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) (as the planning authority for this work) speaks to landowners and council to develop a vision for the precinct.
- Technical reports such as drainage assessments, traffic modelling and heritage reports are prepared to help planners understand the potential limitations of the land.
- In consultation with Council, the VPA will prepare a draft plan for both the Merrimu and Parwan Station areas, outlining where land uses might be best located.
- The draft plan will form the basis of the PSP and proposed planning scheme amendment. This will be shared with government agencies, key service providers and the broader community for input. Anyone interested in the PSP is invited to make a submission for review by the VPA.
- Unresolved submissions are heard by an independent panel at a Panel Hearing before the plan is finalised and provided to the Minister for Planning for consideration.
- Once the planning scheme amendment has been approved by the Minister for Planning and the PSP is incorporated into the Moorabool Planning Scheme, landholders can apply for permits to allow development to begin. Moorabool Shire Council will be responsible for administering planning permits.
The Bacchus March Urban Growth Framework (UGF) 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. The framework was approved by the Minister for Planning in November 2018.
The framework identifies Parwan Station and Merrimu as key growth areas. The PSP planning process will deliver more specific land-use planning for these areas to develop.
Merrimu is located north-east of the Bacchus Marsh town centre, and east of the Darley neighbourhood. It is physically separated from the centre of Bacchus Marsh by the Bacchus Marsh Irrigation District and the Western Freeway. It features strong links into the centre of Bacchus Marsh via Gisborne Road.
The precinct sits on an elevated plateau. Land within the precinct is relatively flat but is characterised by a dramatic escarpment where the land falls away to the Irrigation District to the south.
The precinct is currently mostly rural in use, with a pocket of rural residential/lifestyle blocks in its south-east. The precinct abuts several significant operational sand quarries on the western side of Gisborne Road.
The Bacchus Marsh Urban Growth Framework identifies the Merrimu precinct to become predominantly residential . There is potential within Merrimu to create a number of smaller villages that provide different and complementary characters to suit a range of housing preferences. The projected population of 15,000 to 20,000 people could support a number of town centres , supporting both future residents of Merrimu and surrounding neighbourhoods.
The Bacchus Marsh area is growing, and there is opportunity for these precincts to accommodate some of the future population. Planning will allow for appropriate development in the Parwan and Merrimu precincts, ensuring that new and existing community members have access to housing, open space, infrastructure and services. The planning process is designed so that existing community members will benefit from the development occurring in their area.
We expect this expansion will occur over a long period of time – potentially in excess of 40 years.
The Bacchus Marsh Urban Growth Framework identified an Eastern Link Road for Bacchus Marsh as a key project to address existing network and congestion issues, as well as to support the development of new growth areas.
Regional Roads Victoria (RRV) is exploring options for preferred routes for the Bacchus Marsh Eastern Link Road. The VPA will continue to work with RRV as it assesses these options to ensure the road can appropriately support the development of these precincts.
For more information, click here to visit the RRV website.
The VPA are currently undertaking a series of background assessments to identify issues and opportunities that will need to inform future plans for these precincts.
Once these background studies have been concluded, the VPA will work with a range of stakeholders to explore different plan options for the future development of these areas. This is expected to occur through mid-2020.
The VPA is anticipating that a draft plan will be released for formal feedback more details on how to provide feedback will be provided at that time.
The VPA will continue to involve you in the planning process as it progresses. Opportunities for informal and formal feedback to the plan will also be provided. You can stay up to date by subscribing to the project newsletter in the right-hand toolbar of this webpage.