Hanging Rock.

Hanging Rock. Photo: Tessie Vanderwert

Community groups lobbying for the protection of Hanging Rock against development had their prayers answered on Friday.

Macedon Ranges council has agreed to an unexpected state government deal for a $1 million care package, and has had to scrap its plans to seek investment of a resort-style development.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy announced the $1 million maintenance fund, provided over four years, on Friday.

Speaking to Star Weekly, Mr Guy admitted the fund was created after community pressure.

He said the community had run a prominent campaign.

“Hanging Rock is a very special place, there's no doubt about it.

“There's a strong, deep, local love for the rock. The community has run an important, prominent campaign and this shows that local groups can achieve results.”

The $1 million will be used to upgrade existing facilities and pay for ongoing maintenance costs.

Horse racing, concerts and other arts events could still be held at Hanging Rock.

Mr Guy said the maintenance funding would be a rolling fund and would continue after the initial four-year period.

He said the government would propose the rezoning of the east paddock in line with the rest of the Hanging Rock precinct in order to block any future development proposals.

The land would be rezoned to rural conservation zone as originally intended by the former shire of Newham.

“This isn't my land, it's not state government land, it's the council's land and we didn't have to intervene,” Mr Guy said.

The Hanging Rock Action Group's eight-month campaign gained a groundswell of support to get the council to rethink its decision.

It wanted private investment on 5.8 hectares at Hanging Rock for an events and function centre and 100-room accommodation building with day spa and an outdoor adventure site.

It was proposed that the revenue would help pay for the costs to maintain the Hanging Rock precinct.

Group spokesman Luke Spielvogel said the funding was fantastic news.

“At the end of the day it's a win-win. This addresses the council's issues with maintenance costs and maintains the community expectations and protects the values that are important to Hanging Rock.”

Mayor Roger Jukes said a long-term plan for Hanging Rock was still needed to ensure the icon's ongoing financial and environmental sustainability.

“We're pleased that the Victorian government has recognised the need for immediate funding to address the ageing of state-owned infrastructure, weed and pest problems at the rock.

“But Hanging Rock needs ongoing investment if it is going to continue to thrive as a natural asset and tourist icon.”

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