New Nature Strip Policy and Guidelines

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Surf Coast Shire residents now have clear direction about what landscaping is permitted on their nature strip following Council’s adoption of its new Nature Strip Policy and Guidelines.

The policy is based on five principles; that nature strips:

· are a public space that contribute to a sense of place and community

· should be safe and accessible spaces

· contribute to a healthy environment for people, flora and fauna

· play an active role in supporting Council’s climate change response, including the management of the risk of fire to community and infrastructure

· are a location of essential services to the community (water mains, gas, power etc.)

The guidelines provide straight-forward information about permitted uses, including approved surface treatments, plant heights, growing of edible plants, installations and maintenance responsibilities.

The policy and guidelines will not be applied retrospectively, however Council may direct a resident to remove any structure or planting deemed to be a safety risk.

Under the policy:

· Well-kept grass and modest plantings are preferred due to their environmental benefits, their ability to reduce radiated heat and to soften streetscapes.

· Hard surfaces such as gravel are no longer permitted as they lead to more stormwater run-off and materials being washed into downstream water bodies.

· Mulch is permitted under and around plantings but should not take up the entire nature strip.

· Residents wishing to undertake works varying from the nature strip guidelines will need to seek a permit so Council officers can individually assess the proposed works against the guidelines and Council’s broader principles and requirements.

· Property owners or occupiers are required to maintain nature strip grass and any plants excluding street trees, which are solely Council’s responsibility.

· The guidelines differ between areas that are inside and outside of the Bushfire Management Overlay.

· Parking on nature strips is illegal under road rules.

Surf Coast Shire Deputy Mayor Cr Mike Bodsworth said the new policy and guidelines gave residents clear directions, while providing flexibility in certain situations.

“With so many different landscapes and town characters, we know that a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t appropriate,” he said.

“So if someone wants to undertake works on their nature strip that vary from the acceptable standard treatments in the guidelines, they can apply for a permit, which will take into account Council’s broader principles.”

“We realise that many nature strips throughout the shire do not comply with these new guidelines, and we have no intention of retrospectively applying them, unless there is a clear safety risk.”

The draft policy and guidelines were placed on public exhibition during July and August last year.

“During this time we received 113 survey submissions and eight written submissions, which have been reviewed and some modifications made. For example, we’ve changed the guidelines to now allow for mulch under and around plantings,” Cr Bodsworth said.

Read the Nature Strip Policy and Guidelines in full.

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