The City of Ballarat looks set to change its nature strip rules, allowing residents to grow plants and veggies for the first time.
But anyone wanting to build a planter box on their nature strip will have to fork out an annual fee of $150.
Under current policies alternative nature strips other than grass are restricted, but new guidelines will now allow raised planter boxes, up to 1 x 2 metres in area and 40-50cm high, to be built on the public land.
Ballarat mayor Des Hudson said council worked with the community for some time to develop a response to the growing number of people wanting to utilise their nature strips for growing plants and vegetables.
With some people already utilising their nature stripes despite restrictions, Cr Hudson said discussions were had over how to legitimise the act.
“This will be something new for Ballarat, while it’s not for everyone it will be for others,” he said.
“For people living in small tenancies with no backyward, this gives them the ability to have a garden bed, and to share with others.”
Built on the success and popularity of Ballarat’s eight community gardens, Cr Hudson said the concept would add to the significant work achieved so far through the 40 per cent tree canopy strategy to make the city more sustainable.
“People are generally wanting to do more for the environment,” he said.
“But it’s not just about garden beds, there is that social interaction that comes with it.”
Residents, with exception of those living in areas covered by heritage overlay who cannot build the planter boxes, will need to apply for a permit and the planter boxes will need to meet specified design standards and be maintained accordingly.
Owners will need to pay an annual permit fee, which will cover public liability insurance, inspections and processing of permits.
But Cr Hudson said while council was not looking to make any money, questions whether people will take up the opportunity because of the costs are currently being explored.
“That is a lot of money, we will certainly like to look at it,” he said.
The guidelines will also require consultation with neighbours to be undertaken.
The new nature strip garden policy will be recommended at Wednesday night’s council meeting and if agreed to residents can began applying immediately.
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