Councillors have approved changes to planning regulations around the Dowling Forest precinct in Miners Rest, which will ease some restrictions on land use.
At a special planning meeting last week, they considered a council officer proposal to roll back some of the restrictions introduced in 2012 to encourage the use of the land for thoroughbred horse training.
Some parts of the land around the Dowling Forest precinct - which includes and surrounds the Ballarat Turf Club - will now be re-classified as farming zones.
The special use zone known as SUZ13 introduced to support the industry has proved controversial as time has gone on.
The original aim behind the special use zone was to support the growth of the racing industry in the area, and to prevent the land from being fragmented - for example by hobby farms.
However, some landowners have complained that the planning regulations were too strict to allow for reasonable development, even if it was likely to have a positive impact on the horse-training industry.
Some also said the controls discriminate against those who were already in the area and were not horse owners.
A pre-vote report on the controls outlined confusion, with some property owners saying that they had difficulty selling their properties.
"There was a sense of ... frustration in understanding who can occupy a dwelling or purchase property, what can and can't be built and what does and does not require planning permission, particularly within the SUZ13."
There was a sense of confusion and frustration in understanding who can occupy a dwelling or purchase propertyReport on the Dowling Forest planning regulations
"It was evident there is still significant rural living pressure on this area as standard residential development in Miners Rest continues to grow."
The report also said banks and real estate agents were misinterpreting the special use zone as requiring a horse training facility to justify a dwelling.
"Allegedly as a result, saleability and financing for land in the precinct is severely limited," it said.
The changes will mean a contentious regulation only allowing dwellings in the special use zone to be occupied by a licensed horse trainer or an employee of a licensed horse trainer will no longer apply to several properties.
Landowners within and just outside of the precinct were consulted along with the Ballarat Turf Club and a group known as the Special Use Zone 13 Action Group.
Planning controls for land to the south and south-west of the precinct area will also be reviewed once council considers growth area plans.
Council officers will need to seek authorisation from the Minister for Planning to amend the city's planning scheme.
In a press release, the City of Ballarat said the changes would "support the precinct's economic activity and ongoing Ballarat Turf Club operations, recognising the racing industry's importance to the regional and state economy."
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