What a wonderful resource is the Woodend and District Heritage Society. Trawling through their well-indexed records has turned up some revealing items relevant to the ongoing saga of MRSC's proposed development plans for Hanging Rock.
On December 18, 1987, the Shire of Newham and Woodend refused a permit application by W and A Barker for a dwelling on 'Crown Allotment 7B, 7C, 7D and 7E, Section 7, Parish of Newham', i.e. the current East Paddock. This was on the grounds that:
1. The erection of a house on the application site would detrimentally affect the visual amenity of the Hanging Rock Reserve, both from within the Reserve and when viewed from the east of the Reserve.
2. The development proposal would be contrary to Statement of Planning Policy No. 8, in particular the policy requiring that any development to be permitted in 'rural areas shall be planned to achieve harmony with the natural environment and to maintain both the generally rural character and high landscape values'.
I could not have put it better.
The council later bought the same land in 1990 with a loan of $220,000 as a buffer zone for the Hanging Rock Reserve, and on May 6, 1995, received a federal grant of $22,000 from the Sites of National Tourism Significance Program to protect Hanging Rock from being 'loved to death' by its annual 18,000 visitors.
Among the heritage centre's collection of press clippings is a photo in the Sun on August 11, 1989, of locals at Hanging Rock protesting at development proposals by Kris Pickering for the infamous zoo at Hanging Rock Farm. The council budgeted $6,000 in legal fees to fight the proposals and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal threw out the developer's appeal in July, 1990. Guess what - one of many reasons was the visual impact from the Rock. It seems residents must be forever vigilant, and make sure consultation occurs before events happen - how sad that our council is now proposing the very sort of development it once resisted.