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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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It is important for the role of the Minister to be clearly defined to minimise the need for him or her to be involved in the day to day administration of the planning system; and The Ministerial Powers of Intervention in Planning and Heritage Matters Practice Note (November 2004) be reviewed to relieve the Minister of the day to day decision making.

DPCD’s Planning Role (See Part 7.3) The Committee considers that the role of DPCD should be reviewed and appropriate structural and management changes be made to instil a high standard of leadership and advocacy of state strategies and policies.

Local Government’s Planning Role (See Part 7.4) The Committee believes local councils must have a key role in the planning

system and that:

The number of times a council needs to make a decision in a planning scheme amendment process should be reviewed;

The council’s primary role in strategic planning should be given more emphasis. The focus should be the setting of strategic goals and objectives for a municipality;

Encouragement should be given to establishing bodies that enable a council to delegate decision making powers on selected matters; and At the beginning of any four year term, and throughout the term, councillors should undertake training in the planning system.

The Role of VCAT (See Part 7.5)

The Committee considers:

The role of an independent umpire is an essential part of the planning system;

VCAT should be adequately resourced to reduce the current waiting time for all matters in the Planning and Environment List; and Action in response to other findings set out in this report (such as the proposal that seeks to stream permit applications) should result in fewer matters being referred to VCAT for determination.

–  –  –

The Role of Planning Panels Victoria (See Part 7.6) The Committee supports the utilisation of the expertise within PPV for a wider purpose.

Changes to the role and operation of PPV should be considered. They include

the potential for:

PPV to critique amendments at an early stage in the planning scheme amendment process;

PPV being more directive in their consideration of submissions at an early stage; and Converting panel recommendations to determinations.

The Role of Referral Authorities (See Part 7.7) The Committee considers that referral authorities are one of the key leaders in the planning system and have a corresponding responsibility in the way that they participate in the planning process. Their performance should reflect this leadership role.

The Role of other Agencies in the Planning System (See Part 7.8) The Committee considers that appropriate structural and management changes need to be made to foster improved relationships between the various bodies that lead and participate in the planning system.


The Planning and Environment Act 1987 (See Part 8.1) The Committee considers that it is time to replace the current Act with a new Planning Act.

The Victoria Planning Provisions (See Part 8.2)

The Committee considers:

The current state wide standardised structure of planning schemes is strongly supported; and There is a question whether the VPP, in its current form, continues to fulfil its intended purpose in an efficient and effective manner.

The matters that will be considered by the Committee in the next part of its

work will include:

Whether the current structure and composition of the VPP is appropriate?

Are each of the components necessary?

–  –  –

Are other components required?

What are the principles for determining whether a matter belongs in the VPP; and in particular in Clause 52?

Is it possible to avoid or reduce the multi layering of controls?

Can certain elements be presented differently (ie. grouped or compacted) to make them more useable?

The Municipal Strategic Statement (See Part 8.3)

The Committee considers:

It is time to comprehensively re examine the MSS, its role, its function and its place within the planning scheme; and The development of the Metropolitan Strategy and the eight Regional Growth Plans may impact on forthcoming and ongoing MSS reviews.

Local Planning Policy (See Part 8.4) The Committee questions the role of Clause 22 local policy and whether it should remain in its current form. Any reorganisation of Clause 22 has the capacity to affect the structure of the VPP and planning schemes.


Permit Application Fees and Costs (See Part 9.1.1)

The Committee considers:

The adequacy of the current schedule of application fees should be reviewed; and As part of the review of the fee schedule, the extent to which permit application fees can be used as a financial incentive or a penalty in the planning system to improve the processes, reward good practice and discourage poor practice by both responsible authorities, applicants and third party participants should be considered.

Planning Scheme Amendment Fees and Costs (See Part 9.1.3) The Committee recommends a review of all stages in the amendment process to help reduce costs for all parties.

Enforcement Costs (See Part 9.1.4) The Committee recommends consideration be given to resourcing and authorisation of enforcement officers enabling them to work across municipal boundaries.

–  –  –

Infrastructure Charges by Permit Conditions (See Part 9.2) The Committee considers that the practice to secure infrastructure funding via permit condition needs further consideration. Specifically, should there be a return to the ability for a council to seek a contribution from a landowner for the cost of infrastructure where the cost of that infrastructure is to be shared by more than one developer without the need for a development contribution plan.

Restrictive Covenants (See Part 9.3)

The Committee considers that:

As a first step, the legislative block (section 61(4) of the Act) to the grant of a planning permit until a restrictive covenant is varied should be removed;

and It should further examine the recommendations of the Victorian Law Reform Commission in its report on easements and covenants (Final Report 22).

Section 173 Agreements (See Part 9.4)

The Committee considers the role and processes associated with section 173

agreements require further analysis, with the objective being to:

Explain where agreements should and should not be used; and Streamline the processes associated with creating, amending and removing agreements.

Structure of Zones (See Part 9.5.1)

The Committee considers:

The structure of zones warrant further consideration, including the possibility of allowing more local variations; and Given the widespread impact, some early consideration should be given to the review of the Farming Zone.

Operation of Overlays (See Part 9.5.2)

The Committee considers:

The structure of permit triggers within overlays should be reviewed; and Multi purpose overlays should be investigated with a view to reducing the need for layering.

–  –  –

Performance Based Provisions versus Prescriptive Controls (See Part 9.5.3) The Committee considers that the current balance in the system favours flexibility and performance based controls too heavily, to the detriment of certainty. This should be reviewed.

Growth Area Planning (See Part 9.6.1)

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 a mechanism to improve the delivery of infrastructure to match planning aspirations in growth areas.

Interface Councils (See Part 9.6.2)

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.

Planning in Rural and Regional Victoria (See Part 9.8)

The Committee considers:

Adequate resources should be directed to the preparation of the eight Regional Growth Plans; and A code of practice should be developed to exempt temporary events in the rural zones or the temporary event provision in Clause 62.03 should be extended to address private land.


Assessment Streams for Permit Applications (See Part 10.1.1)

The Committee considers:

A system of planning permit application streams be developed for different land use and or development categories. These streams should align with

–  –  –

revised notice provisions, referral authority procedures and adjusted timelines for decision making.

A Code Assess process be developed and piloted in selected municipalities for a variety of buildings and/or works and/or nominated subdivision proposals.

An audit of existing permit triggers in the planning scheme be undertaken to identify where permit triggers could be reduced.

Notice Requirements and Material Detriment (See Part 10.1.2)

The Committee considers that:

Third party involvement in the planning process is an important component of Victoria’s planning system.

Third party rights are not unlimited and should be:

- proportional to the scale and nature of the permission being sought; and

- relevant to the exercise of discretion prescribed in the planning scheme.

The potential to stream permit applications into different classes, namely Code Assess and Merit Assess processing paths, provides a basis to align notification requirements with each processing path.

Notice requirements for different classes of land use and/or development

should be prescribed by:

- enabling the planning scheme to set out notice requirements for different classes of applications; and

- legislative change to section 52 of the Act and to the Regulations.

The current provisions of the Act which potentially expose councils to liability (such as section 94) for decisions relating to notice, or failing to give notice, should be reviewed as a consequence of any change to Section 52 of the Act.

Referral Processes (See Part 10.1.3)

The Committee considers that there is significant room for improvement in the current system of planning referrals, both at the time of a planning permit application and in respect of the subdivision process, including reviewing

current practices and/or legislative requirements regarding:

Timelines for responses to councils;

Whether permit conditions or objections to a permit application by a Section 55 referral authority be considered as advisory or mandatory;

The use of standard agreements for referrals; and Referral authority participation in the VCAT review process.

–  –  –

Request for Further Information (See Part 10.1.4) The Committee concludes that increased efficiencies and reduced timelines for the processing of a permit application can be achieved by a suite of statutory and non statutory measures. These measures will be investigated in the next stage of the Committee’s work.

Amendments to Planning Permits (See Part 10.1.5) The Committee considers that provisions in relation to secondary consent amendments to planning permits are unclear and should be reconsidered.

Planning Scheme Amendment Process (See Part 10.2)

The Committee recommends:

That the planning scheme amendment process be streamed into different types of amendments along the lines of technical amendments, normal amendments and state significant amendments;

A review of all steps in the amendment process with the aim of making the process more efficient;

That the need for authorisation be reviewed or be subjected to strict time limits (not more than 10 business days) and if time limits are not met, the amendment is deemed to be authorised;

That to qualify as a submittor, a person should at least be required to show how the amendment affects them;

That a planning authority should be able to dismiss a submission if it considers it to be irrelevant or vexatious, subject to a right of review;

Where submission issues are limited, the nature of a contested panel hearing should be geared towards that limited issue (this may involve a varied hearing process or a consideration of the matter on the papers);

That the various decision points required of a council acting as a planning authority be reviewed so that once an amendment process commences (by exhibition), it must proceed through to at least a panel; and That further consideration be given to whether a panel’s recommendations should be made to the planning authority or directly to the Minister.

Enforcement (See Part 10.3)

The Committee considers:

All councils should provide a planning enforcement function within their municipality;

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