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«December 2011 Victorian Planning System Ministerial Advisory Committee Initial Report. Geoff Underwood, Chair. Catherine Heggen, Member. David ...»

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The Committee also received and heard a number of submissions that referred to the Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution and how it may be expended in the future. The Committee notes that there was uncertainty in the submissions as to how funds from the Growth Area Infrastructure Contributions (GAIC) will be allocated. It also notes that the in kind methodology of satisfying GAIC creates some uncertainty in relation to what infrastructure is to be developed in the growth areas.

Casey City Council and Melton Shire Council highlight in their verbal submissions that they remained confused as to the role of the DPCD in planning for the growth areas, and add that the Infrastructure Working Groups that had been facilitated by the GAA to co ordinate the needs and requirements of all government agencies had not come close to achieving a ‘whole of government’ approach. This view is endorsed by representatives from the Mitchell Shire Council and Hume City Council. The Casey City Council

submission makes the following observation:

“It is considered that there is a role to play for the State Government and the GAA to continue to pursue cross government involvement in high order matters relating to growth area planning. It is important to develop a map for growth to understand what State infrastructure will be required. The existing infrastructure gaps need to be addressed before planning for more growth that will compound the problem.

This is essential in relation to transport movement networks, planning for jobs and community and recreation facilities. Unfortunately the whole of government approach to planning for infrastructure and services has not been progressed as one may have expected by a central planning agency. This is still a weakness of the Government and is affecting infrastructure and service delivery to new growth area communities.” Councils and the development sector are not the only two groups of stakeholders to make comments concerning growth area planning. Within the

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submission of Parks and Leisure Australia (Submission No. 495) there are a number of comments that relate to the provision of open space and the issues associated with maintenance.

This request from a peak body for higher order strategic planning to be undertaken in relation to community and recreational infrastructure is important as it represents a desire to seek to install best practice in the growth areas based on sustainability and accessibility.

The submission from Yarra Valley Water (Submission No. 255) seeks greater clarity provided around future development by planning for both potable and recycled water systems. The Yarra Valley Water submission indicates that with a greater horizon for strategic planning outcomes, 50 years rather than 20 years, better outcomes for the communities can be achieved through the use of recycled water. The submission notes that this outcome was not achieved with the recent Greenvale Precinct Structure Plan.

An anonymous submittor suggests the removal of the requirement for a precinct structure plan in the process to bring land to market, rather arguing that land designated for growth should be zoned up front (once identified in a long term growth plan) and that the development of the land should be at the discretion of the responsible authority’s assessment of the developer to supply a minimum level of infrastructure and services to be delivered to the area. The submission suggests that these matters should be dealt with at the permit stage, rather than through a time consuming and often expensive precinct structure plan.

The Committee considers that there has been a benefit in a lead agency co ordinating planning of the growth areas. However, submittors close to the process with firsthand knowledge of its operation have presented varying views about the performance of the GAA in this regard.

Submittors also argue that there should be opportunities for precinct structure plans to be prepared by parties (councils) other than the GAA. The Committee sees merit in opening the preparation of precinct structure plans to councils.

The Committee considers there are two reasons for this approach:

The GAA has a large workload before it with the preparation of precinct structure plans. Even with the best of intentions, it will be years before they are completed. The need for planning certainty and land supply make it more urgent than the ‘delay’ that might otherwise apply.

It is important that expertise continues to reside within councils to avoid the loss of skills in the administration of growth area planning as well as the implementation of Development Contribution Plans. The Committee thinks that councils would be better at implementing the various growth area

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provisions if they were involved in putting them in place in the first instance.

With the existing levels of experience within growth area councils, which varies from council to council, and the need to ensure that there is no drain of those skills away from Local Government, it is essential that those councils that are able to undertake growth area planning be allowed to do so albeit if sought, with the guidance and assistance of the GAA.

The Committee considers that the GAA in a revised form should primarily be

responsible for:

Undertaking growth area planning in those council areas which do not have the resources to do so or are unwilling to enter that area of regulation; and Providing assistance to those growth area councils that do have the resources and are able to undertake growth area planning.

KEY FINDINGS Growth Area Planning

The Committee recommends:

Growth area councils should be allowed to prepare a precinct structure plan in the first instance. The GAA should be the planning authority only where a growth area council requests it to do so or the council does not have the expertise or resources to complete the process;

An evaluation of the precinct structure planning processes that have been finalised be undertaken to determine how effectively the PSP and planning permit process is being undertaken in the Urban Growth Zone; and There is a need for funding and co ordination mechanisms to improve the delivery of infrastructure to match planning aspirations in growth areas.

9.6.2 Interface Councils The Interface Councils comprise the Cardinia, Casey, Hume, Melton, Mitchell, Mornington Peninsula, Nillumbik, Whittlesea, Wyndham and Yarra Ranges municipalities. They usually contain about 30% urban development and about 70% non urban. Due to their proximity to Melbourne, a significant amount of Melbourne’s future growth is planned in these municipalities.

The Interface Councils made a presentation to the Committee in relation to some of the issues faced due to the growth pressures of those municipalities.

The Interface Councils submit that the level of developer contributions was in fact well short of what is anticipated to be required to deliver not only the

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infrastructure for these communities in the future, but also some of the associated services.

The Interface Councils indicate that there was a significant lack of policy direction, especially in relation to employment and investment opportunities within the interface areas.

The Interface Councils’ representatives spoke about issues of creating sustainable development within the green wedges. This included facilitating agribusiness activities and their associated uses such as hospitality venues which are often limited by the provisions of the green wedge.

The Shire of Yarra Ranges (Submission No. 473) comments on the restrictions

that apply to the land zoned Green Wedge:

“There are some principles of rural land use which deserve attention at a State policy level and modification to the Victoria Planning

Provisions, namely:

the degree to which value adding or ‘agri tourism’ activities not currently permitted by planning controls should be reviewed. This includes providing greater opportunity and clarity in the planning scheme for farm gate sales of locally grown and produced products. This would help rural producers achieve greater income diversity and boost tourism opportunities for primary producers beyond the viticultural industry.

provision should be made for accommodation associated with ecological values in addition to existing uses such as agriculture, outdoor recreation facility, rural industry, or winery. This modification to the Green Wedge zones (Green Wedge Zone, Green Wedge A Zone and Rural Conservation Zone) would provide an opportunity for landholders to establish accommodation in conjunction with the natural environment and reduce the potential for pressure on landholders to compromise the ecological values of their properties by introducing agricultural or commercial uses in order to justify an application for tourism development.

the need to establish a planning framework for the opportunity to consider programmed events and festivals which currently fall under ‘Place of assembly’ and are consequently prohibited under the current Green wedge planning provisions.” Representatives of the Interface Councils argued strongly for the establishment of an Interface Infrastructure Fund. It was argued that this should be put into place in a similar manner to the Regional Growth Fund that has been established for other areas.

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KEY FINDINGS – Interface Councils

The Committee considers:

There is a need for funding and co ordination mechanisms to improve the delivery of infrastructure to match planning aspirations in interface areas;

and The scope of green wedge management plans should include a review of permitted land uses to ensure the achievement of strategic objectives.

9.7 Stakeholder Engagement Stakeholder engagement and third party participation in the planning process is a highly valued aspect of the planning system. Carlotta Quinlan (Submission No. 120) makes the following comments in relation to ‘what’s good about the


“Third party rights of objection and appeal. This is crucial to a healthy democratic society. Even if the result is not a complete win for the objector, a compromise is usually reached and the objector at least feels that his concerns have been heard.

Planning schemes for individual areas prepared through a meaningful consultation process between local government and residents. These produce a better outcome for the community and the city as a whole.

The ability to discuss concerns regarding planning proposals with a local planning officer. This is important and far more effective and satisfactory than dealing with a voice on the phone with no idea of the local situation.”

The Environment Defenders Office (Victoria) (Submission No. 369) states:

“Community participation through third party rights is greatly valued and seen as essential for the integrity of the system and the balancing of community views against those of developers.” This part of the report focuses on stakeholder engagement; Part 10.1.2 concentrates on third party rights.

Through both the submissions and presentations made to the Committee, it is clear that there are significant issues relating to stakeholder engagement and the way it is managed and undertaken. Many submittors to the Committee indicate significant failures in the area by State Government, councils, statutory authorities and proponents.

Submittors make different points on this subject, with some stating that invitations to become involved in community consultation were not always

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genuine, that outcomes are often predetermined and that a lack of information deprived individuals the chance to participate in a process. Other submittors argue that the removal of third party rights in the Residential 2 Zone and the diminution of rights to have a say under development plans and other overlay provisions restrict involvement to an undesirable degree.

The Bacchus Marsh Community Land Group (Submission No. 411) states:

“The BMCLG supports a planning system that:...respects the rights of communities to have a say in planning decisions that could affect them...”.

The group goes further in urging what it said this ‘panel’ (meaning this

Committee) should consider. It states that the Committee:

“needs to review the ways in which communities are currently notified and involved in planning scheme amendments including re zoning.

The Panel needs to review the way Councils are currently required to advertise their intentions to rezone land and how communities are currently notified and involved in changes to land zoning.

The Panel needs to identify processes that ensure Councils understand and respect aspirations of the community.

The Panel needs to identify ways to educate the community in planning matters. For example, could the Environmental Defender’s Office run workshops designed to demystify Council planning processes, and help residents understand where to access information about property they plan to buy, plus how to understand and monitor planning decisions that may adversely affect their property.” The Ballarat Residents and Ratepayers Association Incorporated (Submission

No. 105) states:

“Residents are often unaware of planning and development issues because they are not actively looking for these and as such often miss advertisements placed by Councils announcing proposals. In addition, in Ballarat at least, if the issue may be regarded as unpopular, minimal effort is placed by Council to inform people about the proposal, which reduces potential controversy arising until the decision is passed, rendering it too late for action.”

The Bellbrae Residents Association Inc. (Submission No. 411) states:

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