COUNCILLORS should tighten controls over Harcourt's future housing to protect the area's rural character, staff say.
Mount Alexander Shire officers will vote on planning controls for the rapidly growing township on Tuesday.
An independent planning panel would then examine the plans to expand Harcourt 22 hectares into farming land, giving enough room for 15 years worth of projected growth.
A total of 24 members of the public gave their opinion on the proposed changes during public consultations.
A "large number" of them feared future developments would impact Harcourt's rural character, the authors of a new report to councillors said.
"These submissions emphasised concerns with the appearance of recent greenfield development in other cities and towns in Victoria particularly that lots are often uniform in size and built form of housing which results in homogeneity across new residential developments," the shire officers said.
Some members of the public said the best way to address the risk was to compel developers to build a range of housing that reflected Harcourt's rural character.
They also wanted stronger environmental controls reflecting the climate emergency the council declared several years ago.
Shire officers agreed more could be done.
They wanted councillors to sign off on rules stating future developers would need to include two "canopy trees", more consideration for biodiversity and protection of significant trees, and new rules around building designs and sitings.
Shire officers said the reform package also already contained biodiversity protections including rules around vistas that displayed Harcourt's landscape.
They also addressed concerns some members of the public had raised about a push to rezone 3.16 hectares of land in the town centre for 10 specialty shops, a food store and other businesses.
Shire officers said enough protections would be in place to allay any concerns people had about that part of the reforms.
That included work beginning this year on a Harcourt town centre action plan that would consider future car parking, roads and public spaces.
The officers acknowledged the importance of buffer zones between residential and farming land and said proposed reforms would help strengthen existing controls.
Councillors would also consider planning scheme changes for Maldon on Tuesday.
The changes were minor and many were administrative in nature, council officers said.
Maldon's changes are a step ahead of Harcourt's and would be sent to planning minister Richard Wynne for a final sign off, assuming councillors give their assent.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.