Whilst a number of statutory instruments have been designed by policy makers to address the problem of unplanned residential development in rural or environmentally sensitive areas, little academic research has been conducted on their performance within the Australian context. One such instrument is the tenement control. Tenement controls were historically used in rural and peri-urban areas of Victoria to minimise development in inappropriately subdivided areas; however, they are now only significantly used within the Shire of Yarra Ranges. Recently, there has been resurgence in interest in the control, as evidenced through its recent inclusion in the South Gippsland Planning Scheme (South Gippsland Shire Council 2010), and as a proposed means of limiting settlement in areas of high bush-fire risk during the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission (Teague 2010, 227-228).
This paper provides an empirical assessment of the performance of the tenement control in the Shire of Yarra Ranges. A major finding is that the design of the control makes administration and implementation extremely difficult and that it is inequitable in its impact upon individual landowners. It is concluded that these flaws make tenement controls ineffective as anything but a short-term 'holding' mechanism, pending the development of more detailed strategies.