The Age has written this article, reporting proposed changes to the state’s planning system. Below is the text in full.
Is this a good or bad thing for communities? The devil will be in the detail of course.
Planning reform blocks appeals
March 15, 2012
A DRAMATIC overhaul to the state’s planning system will soon mean residents will not be notified of thousands of new development proposals or be able to object to them.
The government says the new planning system to be introduced in State Parliament by July will cut red tape, reduce waiting times and free up council resources for complex planning issues.
Under the changes – one of the biggest overhauls of the state’s planning laws in a decade – councils and communities will define what development is allowed in their area, including height and density, and then applications matching the definition will be fast-tracked through the planning system.
Opposition planning spokesman Brian Tee said the new system would reduce community consultation in planning decisions.
“Communities will be locked out and watch helplessly as historical buildings and tree-lined streets are attacked by [Planning Minister Matthew Guy’s] wrecking ball and replaced by high-rise skyscrapers,” he said.
The new planning system is expected to apply to more than one in five development applications and will require them to be processed within 10 working days with no notification or appeal rights for neighbours.
The system, called “code assess”, will initially be used by local councils for processing low-level planning issues such as extensions and dual occupancy developments.
But the system is also intended for key development areas across Melbourne – Box Hill, Broadmeadows, Dandenong, Footscray, Frankston, and Ringwood – to process development applications that could include apartment towers of more than 20 storeys.
Mr Guy said the new system would add “certainty and clarity” to planning.
He said guidelines for development set by councils and communities would be mandatory and developers would only be able to appeal a council’s decision if it was inconsistent with the area’s new planning code.
“It will determine what can be built and where,” he said.
Bill McArthur, president of the Municipal Association of Victoria, said the planning system needed improvement but warned, “clear policy and objective criteria must be agreed with the community before removing public notice and third party appeal rights”.
“Until this happens, councils will remain concerned about including some single dwellings, extensions and multi-units in a fast-track process,” he said.
Mary Drost, from community group Planning Backlash, said councils and the community should set the rules for development in their areas and developers should not be able to appeal the decisions under the new accelerated planning process. “If it’s out – it’s out,” she said.
Victoria’s building and development industry has long advocated for an accelerated planning application system. The Property Council’s Victorian executive director, Jennifer Cunich, said changes to planning laws would help economic growth.
Gil King, of the Housing Industry Association, said developments that met existing planning guidelines were chewing up council time and resources in a drawn-out approval process.
“This will actually make it clearer, if it meets the requirements it will be approved much more quickly, it will streamline the whole process.
Note: The above text by The Age – copyright remains that of the respected owners.