Colac Otway Shire Council in partnership with the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) and Regional Development Victoria (RDV) have commenced work on a Precinct Structure Plan for the Deans Creek Growth Area.
The Precinct Structure Plan (PSP) will be a plan for the future development of the area, and will accommodate much of Colac’s residential development for the next 30 years. It will be prepared with a Development Contributions Plan (DCP) to guide infrastructure required as part of development.
The outcome of the PSP process will be rezoned, developable urban land, with the PSP setting out the form that future development will take, and a DCP identifying infrastructure funding.
The PSP project is expected to be delivered over a four year timeframe. The project commenced in 2022 and approval of the PSP Planning Scheme Amendment is expected in 2026.
Deans Creek PSP - Timeline(PDF, 1MB)
The Deans Creek Growth Area
The Colac 2050 Growth Plan(PDF, 31MB) identifies land at the western edge of Colac as suitable for expansion of the township. This area is known as the Deans Creek Growth Area, and has a land area of approximately 570 hectares. Upon completion of development, the area could accommodate from 4,500 to 6,000 dwellings.
Deans Creek Precinct Map(PDF, 12MB)
Deans Creek Community Reference Group – Expression of Interest
Colac Otway Shire Council have undertaken an Expression of Interest process to invite residents to be part of a Community Reference Group (CRG) to help shape the plan.
Council is still assessing membership of the CRG. Although the formal EOI process has concluded, late applications are still being accepted. Younger people, women and Aboriginal people are strongly encouraged to apply.
To apply, please use the form below.
The CRG is being formed to:
- Facilitate feedback and local knowledge from a diverse range of residents of Colac to help inform the preparation of the Deans Creek PSP
- Promote awareness of the project within the broader Colac community
- Report to the Colac Otway Shire Executive at key project milestones on community perspectives about the project.
The CRG is not yet appointed. Council received an insufficient number of expressions of interest to comprise a group with the required diversity of ages and genders. Appointment of the CRG has been placed on hold whilst Council continues to recruit for the remaining positions. It is anticipated that the CRG will be formally appointed by Council early in 2024.
When appointed, the CRG will meet regularly with the Deans Creek project team to discuss planning for the growth area. Growth area planning can involve trade-off discussions to balance often competing or different planning and development objectives. A key aim is to involve the CRG in these discussions. At these meetings, the project team will work with the CRG to help inform them about growth planning in general, and discuss the opportunities and constraints associated with the Deans Creek PSP project. The team will facilitate discussion and feedback with the CRG during meetings and key workshops.
The CRG will be endorsed by the Colac Otway Shire Council and will report to the Colac Otway Shire Executive at key milestones.
Who will form part of the CRG?
The CRG will be made up of around 26 adult members of the Colac community who have their primary place of residence in Colac or surrounds, drawn from different parts of the town, and represent different age groups. It will include representation from the Aboriginal community to provide Indigenous perspectives.
Landowners within the PSP area cannot form part of the CRG to avoid conflicts of interest. A Landowner Forum is being established separately for interested property owners from within the precinct to meet on a regular basis, provide updates, and discuss the project.
What are the CRG's Responsibilities?
Members of the CRG are responsible for:
- Ensuring active participation in meetings by all members through attendance and contributing to discussions.
- Reviewing relevant information or documents.
- Adhering to the Ground Rules for Behaviour as noted in the Terms of Reference.
- Managing and reporting individual member’s conflicts of interest.
- Maintaining confidentiality where required.
- Meeting as requested by the Chair, generally in accordance with the Terms of Reference.
- Confirming previous minutes.
What influence will the CRG have?
The CRG will report to the Colac Otway Shire Executive following key project milestones which are at the:
- Completion of the co-design stakeholder engagement workshops.
- Commencement of public exhibition of the planning scheme amendment to implement the Deans Creek PSP project.
The purpose of the reporting will be to provide direct feedback from the CRG to the Executive about the project in relation to the milestone.
Whilst all feedback from the CRG meetings and reports will be taken into consideration to help shape the project, some feedback may not be implemented into the Deans Creek PSP because of policy, legislative or other regulatory considerations. When this occurs, the CRG will be informed about the reasons why specific feedback or ideas can’t be implemented as part of the PSP.
A key purpose of the meetings between the CRG and project team is to help explain what matters can and can’t be considered at this stage of planning for growth, and to consider the views of the CRG to help develop a robust plan that will generally reflect the aspirations of the Colac community.
How often will the CRG meet?
The Community Reference Group (CRG) will meet every second month for around 12 to 18 months to help inform the preparation of the PSP.
The CRG are likely to meet on a Thursday of the relevant month from 4 – 5:30pm in person at COPACC, or in a hybrid online format as required. On occasion an additional meeting may be required.
It is anticipated meetings will commence in 2024 and be held every alternate month until early 2025. This will depend on how long it takes for the PSP to be ready for public exhibition.
The CRG will also participate in the co-design workshops.
The CRG will participate in the co-design workshops along with a range of landowners, business representatives, community groups, government, council, and agency stakeholders.
The co-design milestone is a key event in the project where stakeholders come together to discuss a preliminary draft plan that shows where different land uses and infrastructure could be located. This process allows participants to hear the views of others including government stakeholders and landowners, provide feedback, and see how feedback is used to inform subsequent versions of the plan.
The plan can change many times in response to various feedback as part of its refinement. The co-design workshops are facilitated by council to help participants understand what the initial ideas are about how the PSP area could develop, and enable stakeholders to discuss different options to inform the next version and refinement of the plan.
The co-design workshop will involve:
- One full day workshop (during normal business hours) where the preliminary draft plan will be presented for discussion.
- One half day workshop (during normal business hours) (2 weeks after the first workshop) where the next version (version 2) of the plan will be presented in response to feedback from the first workshop, and further feedback will be collated.
- One half day workshop (during normal business hours) may be required (4-6 weeks after the first workshop or TBD) to provide additional opportunities for feedback on version 3 of the plan.
How is Council managing potential Conflicts of Interest?
Conflicts of interest can occur where a person directly involved in the Deans Creek PSP project may derive direct benefit such as financial gain from the outcomes of the project.
To manage actual or perceived conflicts of interest, a CRG member may not have any financial or property interest in the PSP area. That is, members or their direct family members (e.g. partner / spouse, children, parents) may not own property or have any financial interest within the PSP project area.
If a member or their direct family member purchase property within the PSP area, they will be required to resign their membership.
Landowners will be engaged separately as part of the planning process and Landowner Forum.
As part of the application process to become a member, applicants must declare any property interests within the PSP area, or any property interests relatives or close associates may have in the PSP area as part of the Expression of Interest process to recruit CRG members.
As an ongoing project governance practice, CRG members will be required to declare any conflicts of interest prior to the discussion of issues or at any time a conflict of interest, or potential conflict of interest arises.
CRG Terms of Reference
The help with the smooth running of the CRG, the group will be governed by a Terms of Reference (TOR) document, which establishes the following things:
- The purpose, roles and responsibilities of the group.
- An overview of the project.
- Information about meetings.
- Conflicts of interest.
- Managing confidentiality and dispute resolution.
In order to be a part of the CRG, members must agree to the Terms of Reference (TOR).
The TOR document can be accessed here(PDF, 612KB).
Through the EOI process for the CRG, a number of landowners expressed interest in being involved in a formal consultative group. Following this, Council is proposing to establish a Landowner Forum, which will be an opportunity for landowners to meet with Council on a regular basis, to receive updates and provide feedback on the project.
If you are a landowner and wish to be involved, please email email@example.com or call 5232 9400.
The Deans Creek PSP is a 4-year project, with funding committed by Colac Otway Shire, Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) and Regional Development Victoria (RDV).
The VPA will have a key advisory role in the preparation of the PSP, being a State Government statutory authority that reports to the Minister for Planning, and tasked with working closely with Councils to implement the directions of planning for growth areas in both metropolitan and regional contexts. Council was successful in a grant application under the VPA Streamlining for Growth program.
RDV will be part of the Project Steering Committee which will monitor the project and ensure that it achieves its prescribed objectives and delivers benefits to the Colac community.
Council has been successful in securing funding from the Victorian Government’s Investment Fast-Track Fund, which provides support to rural and regional projects to strengthen their investment evidence base by funding activities that support planning and preparation in order to fast-track projects to investment ready stage.
Funding for the project is as follows:
- Regional Development Victoria - $425,000
- Colac Otway Shire - $300,000
- Victorian Planning Authority - $270,000
What is a Precinct Structure Plan (PSP)?
A PSP is a land use and infrastructure plan that guides the future development of an area. The Deans Creek PSP will comprise:
- An urban structure plan: This plan is the overall framework that provides direction on the location of future land uses (such as housing, and employment), transport networks, conservation areas, open space and supporting infrastructure.
- A Development Contributions Plan (DCP): The DCP is an infrastructure funding plan that sets out requirements on the developer/s to contribute towards the provision of the infrastructure required to service the new community. The DCP is prepared alongside the urban framework and is a key document in the implementation of the PSP.
Why does the Deans Creek Growth Area need a Precinct Structure Plan?
The Deans Creek Growth Area has been identified in the Colac 2050 Growth Plan as the priority growth area for the Shire, and will accommodate most of the residential growth in the Shire for the next 30 years.
The PSP will ensure that the future use and development of the land occurs in an efficient way, and ensure that the required infrastructure is provided to serve the new community.
The PSP is underpinned by a rigorous assessment process, where the technical investigations that establish the land’s suitability for development are undertaken before the land is rezoned.
This allows for the constraints and opportunities across the entire precinct to be known and planned for in the PSP, therefore reducing the number of potential complexities that may be encountered at the planning permit application stage.
How will the PSP be implemented?
Once the draft Precinct Structure Plan has been prepared, an amendment to the Colac Otway Planning Scheme will be undertaken, to incorporate the PSP and DCP into the scheme.
The amendment will seek to rezone the land to Urban Growth Zone (UGZ). Once rezoned, landowners will be able to apply for the required planning permits to develop their land, in the form guided the PSP.
Developers will also be required, as part of any permits, to contribute towards the provision of the required infrastructure to service the new community.
Contributions could comprise a monetary contribution, provision of land, or provision of works-in-kind (developer constructs the infrastructure).
Details of the contributions, the amounts and the specific items to be funded, will be set out in the DCP. Council will have a lead role in the implementation of the PSP, in partnership with the relevant agencies.
The PSP project will also include a Native Vegetation Precinct Plan (NVPP) to identify any areas of ecologically significant land that must be protected from development.
The PSP process includes opportunities for members of the public, landowners, affected residents, and ratepayers, to have direct input into the preparation of the plan. Council also regularly engages and works with State government agencies and departments. The purpose of the engagement is to:
- Provide opportunities for the public and a range of stakeholders including landowners, government agencies and departments, and other affected parties to participate in the preparation of the PSP
- Facilitate an understanding of what the PSP can achieve, and what is out of scope
- Achieve up front and early resolution of issues.
There are three main stages where council will provide the public and other stakeholders with opportunities to provide input into the PSP project. These stages are consistent with the PSP 2.0 Guidelines as adopted by the Minister for Planning in 2021:
- Pitching sessions and early engagement (completed November 22 to March 23)
- Co-design sessions (mid 2024)
- Public exhibition of the planning scheme amendment (2025).
Council completed early engagement between November 2022 and March 2023 with the following activities:
- Information Session – council held an information session on 7 November 2022 which was open to landowners and residents of the Deans Creek Growth Area)
- Pitching Sessions – between December 22 and March 2023, council officers met with landowners, government agencies and departments to discuss issues and opportunities for the PSP from their different perspectives
- Public Survey – council collected survey responses from the public in December 2022 and early January 2023.
A summary document has been prepared and is available here(PDF, 5MB)
The co-design stage of engagement will involve a series of facilitated workshops with the public and stakeholders to:
- Validate a draft vision for the PSP area
- Consider issues and opportunities for development
- Collaborate on the preparation of a draft place-based plan to identify where development should occur, and what infrastructure is required to support the development.
Council will publish more information about this process in 2024.
To inform the preparation of the PSP and DCP, a range of background technical assessments are required. The assessments provide important technical information to inform the planning for the area, however, are not formally adopted documents by the Colac Otway Shire Council.
The following assessments are currently being prepared:
- Deans Creek PSP Project - Integrated Water Management and Stormwater Assessment
- Deans Creek PSP Project – Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Impact and Values Assessment
- Deans Creek PSP Project - Biodiversity Assessment
- Deans Creek PSP Project – Land Capability and Soils Assessment
- Deans Creek PSP Project – Bushfire Assessment
- Deans Creek Retail and Employment Land Assessment
The assessments will be published here once they have been finalised.
Deans Creek PSP Post Contact Heritage Assessment (FINAL)(PDF, 5MB)
Deans Creek PSP Landscape Visual Assessment Report (FINAL)(PDF, 26MB)
Below are links to current and past newsletters with project updates. These newsletters will be published periodically by the project team.
Deans Creek PSP October 2022 Newsletter(PDF, 6MB)