The Age has written this article, reporting proposed changes to the state’s planning system. Below is the text in full.
No doubt the thin edge of a wedge allowing larger developments to bypass neighbourhood scrutiny and objections.
State moves to reduce building appeal rights
May 16, 201
AN OVERHAUL of Victoria’s planning laws will begin next week when Planning Minister Matthew Guy introduces legislation that could mean up to 11,000 building permits being assessed annually without the current notification to neighbours or appeal rights. The government said the changes would apply to ”small-scale, low-impact applications such as home extensions and small works such as fences”.
But a detailed ministerial advisory report released last Friday indicates the new system would also be used for new buildings and subdivisions.
Council and community groups say the public is being kept in the dark on the extent of the planning changes, known as ”code assess”, including what rights of appeal will remain and if residents will be notified if next door decides to add a second storey.
Opposition planning spokesman Brian Tee said the changes were code for ”unchecked development in our suburbs”.
”It will strip away a person’s fundamental right to say no to inappropriate development,” he warned.
Mr Guy told a parliamentary committee yesterday the planning changes would be for ”small” building applications.
”Where we have those small-scale low-impact applications, that’s where I see in residential areas a code assessment model brought forward and that may be for a pergola [or] home extension,” he said. ”Home extensions constitute around 20 per cent of the 55,000 permits that go through the planning system every year,” he said.
Mr Guy said most people did not care if they had no say over their neighbour renovating.
”The vast majority of Victorians want to have a say on planning, not around someone’s pergola or home extension. It is whether an eight-storey building can be built next to them, for instance,” he said.
The Property Council’s Victorian executive director, Jennifer Cunich, said the planning changes should include the fast-tracking of multi-unit developments. ”We would ask that the whole system looks at multiple storeys,” she said. ”If we are just going to play around at the sides then we are not going to improve the system.”
But Ian Wood from Save Our Suburbs said there had not been enough community consultation about the planning changes. He said giving the community notification and appeal rights on planning ”leads to better planning outcomes and more accountability”.
Mary Drost, from community group Planning Backlash, said the government should make clear the planning changes before they were introduced to Parliament.
RMIT planning expert Michael Buxton said the government’s planning review was a missed opportunity.
”For example, one way to reduce work loads [of councils] is to introduce mandatory height controls in various areas so developers know that here we can build a 30-storey tower, there we can build a seven and there it is only two, and that would reduce the workload for councils overnight, that kind of certainty,” he said.
Bill McArthur, president of the Municipal Association of Victoria, said while councils welcomed planning changes to reduce red tape, they would not support the fast-tracking of multi-unit developments.
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