Eco village gets green light

Paddock Eco Village project team members Heather Barrett, project building director Justin Ferguson, Neil  Barrett, architect Geoff Crosby, and project manager Remi Rauline at the Reckleben Street site where work on the 27-lot housing development is soon to start.

Paddock Eco Village project team members Heather Barrett, project building director Justin Ferguson, Neil Barrett, architect Geoff Crosby, and project manager Remi Rauline at the Reckleben Street site where work on the 27-lot housing development is soon to start.

Work on an innovative new eco village residential development in Castlemaine is expected to begin in February after the Mount Alexander Shire last week granted the project planning approval.

The Paddock Eco Village is a 27-lot environmentally aware housing development planned to be built in three stages on a 1.4 hectare site at Reckleben Street.

Already attracting buyer interest from as far as Perth and Sydney, it is believed unique in Australia and is being developed by Castlemaine's Neil and Heather Barrett who own the town's Hub building and were founding members of the Mount Alexander Sustainability Group.

At last week's council meeting councillors unanimously voted in favour of granting a planning permit for the 27-lot staged developed expected to be built over the next three years.

The residences range from one bedroom to four bedroom, all designed to achieve an 8.5 star energy rating and to reuse grey water on site, resulting in reduced greenhouse emissions.

Moving that the project receive planning approval Cr Tony Cordy said it was "a very interesting project".

"They are trying to develop something that's a sustainable model for development," Cr Cordy told the meeting.

Seconding the motion of approval, Cr Christine Henderson described the project as "exciting".

"It's exactly the type of development we want to see in Castlemaine in the inner area," Cr Henderson said.

The proposal raised two objections during its advertising phase but councillors at last week's meeting heard that imposed conditions - relating to waste water, keeping dogs and cats on site, and new fences - are expected to address objector concerns.

"It's the first Living Building Challenge eco village in Australia," Mr Barrett told the Express following the council's decision.

"We've got to produce more energy than we use - 105 per cent - which will be pretty radical.

"And 35 per cent of the area has got to be devoted to food growing which is also pretty radical.

Minimal loss of existing on-site vegetation and its replacement with additional plantings to enhance biodiversity is another feature, as is a requirement that all cats be kept indoors or in enclosed outdoor runs.

Mr Barrett said the first residents should be able to move in from early 2019 with the first stage of the project expected to be completed by the end of next year.

"We're already seeing strong commitments for six of the first seven (dwellings)," he said.

While neither council's engineers nor the CFA had raised concerns regarding the eco village's single entry point, from Reckleben Street, Cr Robin Taylor told the meeting his only concern with the development related to this factor and traffic management - "I certainly will be watching it," Cr Taylor said.

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