Debate on planning permit application in Gruyere

23 Maddens Lane, Gruyere. (Supplied)

By Dongyun Kwon

A number of members in the Gruyere community are concerned about a proposed winery development at 23 Maddens Lane, Gruyere.

Millar Merrigan has applied for the planning permit on behalf of the property owner for a winery, a small second dwelling and signage at the subject address.

Gruyere residents have raised concerns about the appropriateness of the development given the area is a Green Wedge Zone (GWZ) as well as the notice of the planning permit application.

A resident claimed the development is inappropriate as the size of the land is smaller than 25 hectares, the minimum lot size for a subdivision in GWZ, and the proximity to an adjacent existing dwelling within 100m of a dwelling.

“The proposed development sits on a property that totals approximately four hectares in area, in essence, the current property can best be described as a small rural residential, lifestyle property or hobby farm,” they said.

“It is not of a reasonable size or scale that can support or justify a commercial winery and cellar door in GWZ with the Significant Landscape Overlay.

“There is also an existing dwelling less than 50m [away].”

Another resident claimed the proposal is for a new use but is also trying to leverage a historic use from 1987 when a hobby farm cellar door existed.

“It is understood that there were public tastings of small batch wines made onsite at the residential dwelling in the early 80s,” they said.

“The site has not been used to make wine since 1987. Given the scale of winemaking and the nature of tastings at the time, almost 40 years ago, it is argued that there is no winery or cellar door to re-open.”

Opposing the Gruyere residents’ claim, a Millar Merrigan spokesperson said the proposal wholly meets the requirements of the Yarra Ranges Planning Scheme, the GWZ and the Significant Landscape Overlay.

“The proposal is very small scale and the winery element simply seeks to have a former cellar door reopened to cater for a maximum of 32 patrons,” they said.

“It is contained within the existing building and only minor modifications to the facade and the addition of an outdoor terrace are proposed to enhance the visitor experience.

“The winery would support the existing viticulture activities that are long established on site.”

Yarra Yering, a nearby vineyard, is also concerned about its impact on their property if the application is approved.

Yarra Yering general manager Sarah Crowe said if the application was approved, there would be many possible risks including security issues of people trespassing on their property.

“Having seen the first plan and the revised plan, it’s obvious to me that it’s going to be used for short-term accommodation, which is not allowed for a property of that size,” she said.

“Therefore, if there are a number of guests and pedestrians walking around their property, they can easily walk onto our property, which is a biosecurity hazard for us because of pests and diseases.

“Yarra Yering is an agricultural property and operating vineyards, so we have heavy machinery and tractors on the property at any one time and there’s the risk not only they’ll complain about the noise of the tractors and spraying but also about our spraying, which is for keeping our vineyard from pests and diseases.”

Yarra Ranges Council planning and sustainable future director Kath McClusky said the Council has received a planning application for use and development of a winery and small second dwelling and display of business identification signs.

“In a Green Wedge Zone, in this location, there is no lot size requirement under the zone which would prevent or limit this application being applied for. The application is not for subdivision,” she said.

“Green Wedge Zones do not require a minimum setback of where a new development is to be located in relation to an existing dwelling on the site.”

“However, when building works are within 100m of a neighbouring dwelling, a planning process is triggered which must be followed. Council will then assess the application to consider if the development in this location is appropriate.”

One of the residents also claimed they noticed the removal of native trees and vegetation across the property without an applicable permit over the last two years.

“It is noted that the property sits within GWZ with a Significant Landscape Overlay, which appears to have been substantially disregarded in the illegal removal of vegetation prior to submitting this planning permit application,” they said.

“The property sits at the base of the Warramate Hills and the protected GWZ is home to a large number of local wildlife including kangaroos, wombats, echidnas, blue tongue lizards and birdlife including the Powerful Owl.”

On this claim, Ms McClusky said “The illegal vegetation removal is not part of the planning permit and is being considered separately through Council’s compliance team.”

The notice for this potential development was erected on 21 June and removed on 28 June.

“Given Maddens Lane was closed for roadworks, no passing traffic was exposed to it,” one of the residents said.

Ms McClusky said Yarra Ranges Council made sure to notice the application properly.

“The road was also still open to local and business traffic within the area,” she said.

“Public notification has been carried out in accordance with the Act. More than 90 letters were sent to landowner and occupiers of surrounding property.”

To check out more information about this planning permit application, please visit the following website,