Clarkefield Railway Station

The small Victorian country town of Clarkefield is one step closer to becoming carbon neutral.

Clarkefield is in the Macedon Ranges ­– just under an hour away from the city of Melbourne, and even less by train – and it’s fast becoming the little town that could in its vision to create a new style of living.

Under a proposed housing development, Clarkefield will become a model mixed use, walkable village and its proponents are working towards the town meeting the Department of Planning’s 20-minute neighbourhood concept of giving people the ability to meet most of their daily needs within a 20-minute return walk from home.

But it’s not just about the commute, the developers also aim to make any new housing as green as possible. To this end, the town has secured a grant from the Victorian government under its Neighbourhood Battery Initiative for work on a community battery for future Clarkefield housing.

The proposed revitalisation of the Clarkefield township envisages zero carbon living for its residents.

While solar panels and eventually a solar farm are proposed, community batteries will be an important component to achieve this outcome.

Developer APD is working closely with landholders and the Macedon Ranges Shire Council on the revitalisation works and projects director Brad Paddon said the company was delighted to receive the grant.

“Vital feasibility studies on the long-term deployment of a community battery in Clarkefield can now be completed,” Mr Paddon said.

“The grant is a solid endorsement of our zero carbon vision for Clarkefield.

“While our initial investigations showed that a community battery could be a key part of carbon neutral living at Clarkefield, we can now build out the technical specifications for a community battery including scenarios involving electric vehicles and energy use by non-residential elements at the future development.”

The Victorian government’s Neighbourhood Battery Initiative aims to jumpstart the rollout of neighbourhood scale batteries to maximise the benefits of solar for households, businesses and community organisations as the state works to halve emissions by 2030.

APD Projects was one of 16 groups in Victoria to receive a grant.

The feasibility work will be completed in collaboration with Flow Power – a clean energy generator and retailer, and adviser to APD on the Clarkefield revitalisation.

The Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group also received a grant.

MRSG president, David Gormley-O’Brien said: “MRSG is excited to be working in tandem with the APD Clarkefield team in exploring ways of deploying neighbourhood-scale batteries in improving the electricity grid to cope with a much higher proportion of clean, renewable energy and thereby reducing our dependence on coal and gas.”

David Gormley-O’Brien

APD also sees this as a great opportunity to work with other grant recipients and share ideas and insights. “We look forward to reporting on our battery work as we progress development plans for the revitalisation of Clarkefield,” Mr Paddon said.

And while many might struggle to find Clarkefield on a map (population 320) the long-reaching outcomes of developing the township might have national significance. The crew behind the Clarkefield revitalisation has agreed to use the project as a pilot for a national model, not just Victoria.

Strategic advisor to the project – and long-time supporter of affordable housing – Robert Pradolin said he was delighted to support the proposal.

 “I know the developers behind the project and they aligned with my values,” Pradolin said.

“I’m happy to be an advisor, because my passion is to stop homelessness in Australia, I’m tired of waiting for the government, it’s the private sector that’s going to lead us out of this problem of affordable housing.”

Robert Pradolin

Mr Pradolin is founder and director of Housing All Australians (HAA), a private sector group that supports and advocates for affordable housing.

“Under HAA everything we do it must be scaled to a national level to solve this hideous problem of housing, so that’s why Clarkefield is so important.”

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