Welcome to the latest edition of the Land Use Planning e-bulletin; all your planning news in two minutes. We hope you enjoy the read.
What’s happening in planning?
Meeting with Ministers
The MAV met with Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, in April. We updated the Minister on negotiations between the MPA and the MAV on the Partnership Agreement, and provided a summary of our concerns with the Bushfire Management Overlay review process.
We pitched the concept of running a bi-annual planning director and deputy secretary forum. The purpose of the regular forum would be to identify joint planning priorities, monitor outcomes and performance, and for the group to be used as a sounding board for reform. The concept was well received by Minister Guy. A meeting has been arranged with DTPLI’s new Deputy Secretary, Christine Wyatt, to discuss the concept further.
On our standing agenda item, the Minister flagged that the planning fee review would be held off until after the election.
The MAV also met with Minister Northe to discuss council concerns around onshore gas exploration in Victoria, particularly in relation to the impacts on water supplies and underground aquifers. We emphasised that, while these impacts are not fully understood, caution should be taken.
MAV Rural and Regional Planning Conference
This year’s conference theme is Future Proofing Rural and Regional Victoria – the journey of transformation. The finalised program is now available and plenty of time has been left for networking with your peers in councils and industry.
Registrations are going well and places are limited so please register early to avoid disappointment.
The conference will cover a range of matters including strategies for regeneration and revival of rural and regional Victoria, wind power, coal seam gas and how Plan Melbourne, Localised Planning Statements and Regional Growth Plans can be used to future proof Victoria.
The speakers for this year include:
- The Hon, Matthew Guy, Minister for Planning and Multicultural Affairs
- Christine Wyatt, Deputy Secretary, Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure
- Marcus Westbury, CEO of Renew Australia
- Gary Dawson, CEO of the Australian Food and Grocery Council
- Professor Rob Adams, Director of City Design at the City of Melbourne
- Gary White, Chief Planner, MacroPlan Dimasi
- Kathy Mitchell, Chief Panel Member, Planning Panels Victoria
- Megan Carew, VCAT Member.
The conference is on 26-27 June at the Yarra Valley Lodge, Chirnside Park. We hope to see you there.
Integrated planning policy framework
The Advisory Committee for the review of the State Planning Policy Framework has released an integrated planning policy framework for comment, for state, regional and local policy.
The MAV has prepared a draft submission which acknowledges the work of the committee's suggested backend improvements, such as the consistency of language and rules of entry. The integration of the regional plans also appears to have been done in a logical and useful fashion.
We do raise concerns about the integrated framework's legislative constraints, the ability to communicate a cohesive local vision and the potential disaggregation of geographic/precinct based policies that may resolve a number of competing policy objectives.
Our submission has been circulated to councils. We welcome comments and suggested improvements before its finalisation by 23 May.
Metropolitan Planning Authority/MAV Partnership Agreement
The feedback from the sector has been broadly supportive of the MAV’s Position Paper outlining recommended changes to the MPA/MAV Partnership Agreement. A meeting has been arranged to discuss the MAV position on the agreement with the MPA. Stay tuned.
The MAV convenes a regular meeting of CEOs and mayors to discuss priority wind farm-related matters.
The group identified the transfer of responsibility for noise monitoring and compliance to the EPA, and clarification on the noise and health impacts of wind energy facilities as priority issues for the Victorian election.
The MAV is meeting with the Chief Health Officer in May and has requested a meeting with the EPA to discuss these priority matters. We have also written to the National Health Medical Research Council and Minister for Health, Peter Dutton, calling for the Commonwealth Government to fund an expedited authority study.
STEP planning pilot
The MAV, in partnership with DTPLI, is about to commence a new pilot program to evolve the MAV STEP Planning Process Improvement program to position the sector for the next wave of improvements and efficiencies. This project will be based on the highly successful STEP Asset Management and Sustainability program and will include new areas of focus, including a whole-of-organisation approach to planning, and improving customer service.
All Victorian councils are invited to be involved; however criteria of council selection will be based on size, location, and previous participation in process improvement. The initial pilot will be limited to a total of 10 councils. A formal invitation will be sent to all council CEOs and planning directors.
The pilot program is being offered at a subsidised rate of $4,000 + GST. To ensure your council’s participation in this pilot, or for further information, contact Kevin Peachey on 03 9667 5529.
In other STEP news, Kevin Peachey has become the program manager and Michelle Croughan has moved to planning policy advisor role within the MAV. Given Michelle’s passion for planning improvement, she will still be involved in program development and conference planning.
What the State Budget means for planning
Looking at this week's State Budget papers, the following are directly relevant to land use planning:
Metropolitan Planning Levy introduced on planning permit applications
A new levy will be introduced on planning permit applications in metropolitan Melbourne over $1 million in construction costs from 1 July 2015. While it is positive that the MPA has been resourced, it is disappointing that planning fees have remained fixed since 2009, without indexation or review.
Implementation of Plan Melbourne and Regional Growth Plans
A total of $11.2 million has been allocated to support councils in the delivery of major urban renewal sites, and establish a local pocket park fund and a 20 minute neighbourhood fund consistent with Plan Melbourne. A further $3.2 million has been allocated to deliver the first regional growth plan projects and establish a project team to assist councils assess infrastructure demand, develop business cases and manage projects.
Rural Planning Flying Squad
A total of $9.2 million will renew the Rural Council Planning Flying Squad that has been of great assistance to rural councils. Its continuation for another four years will support smaller councils with expert advice and assistance in updating planning schemes.
Victorian Design Review Panel
The Victorian Design Review Panel will continue to be supported. The panel provides expert and independent advice on significant state and local government and private sector projects to improve design quality, achieve best value, and maximise the benefit for the Victorian public.
Standard Development Contributions Review
The State Government has released its response to the Advisory Committee’s report on the Standard Development Contributions Review. Implementation will occur July 2015.
The main elements of the new system are:
- New standard levies will be different for each land use category, and for metropolitan and non-metropolitan locations
- The standard levies will be applied in growth areas and large strategic development areas
- The standard levy will provide for local, basic and essential infrastructure (defined allowable items). They have been set at levels so that infrastructure can be provided, and unfunded liabilities minimised. However, they are not based on full cost apportionment. Public open space is not an allowable item in strategic development areas but will continue to be charged under the Subdivision Act
- A supplementary levy will be available in growth and strategic development areas, but is expected to be used rarely and will be subject to a strict criteria and independent review process
- The new system removes the ability to fund regional level infrastructure through development contributions. This reinforces the principal that it should be a contribution to infrastructure required to support the local community.
Further work is required over the next 12 months, and this will include consideration of indexation and valuing public land. The Minister announced an Implementation Reference Group and the MAV will be part of this group. A review of the reforms is proposed at 18 months after operation. Reporting arrangements have been flagged in the Local Government Reporting Framework review, and this will include the annual amount collected and spent.
There will be transitional arrangements in place that enable existing Development Contribution Plans to continue.
The MAV has arranged a local government briefing, it will include presentations from Minister Guy, Christine Wyatt, MPA CEO, Peter Seamer, and Chief Planning Panel member and Development Contribution Advisory committee member, Kathy Mitchell. An invitation will be sent to CEOs, mayors planning directors and managers shortly.
Environmental Sustainable Design (ESD) panel
The Advisory Committee and Panel considering six local policy amendments and the broader legislative and policy context for environmentally sustainable design has made its recommendations.
The report outlines 26 findings in relation to the legislative and policy context for environmentally sustainable design:
- There is a strong legislative and policy framework that supports the need for sustainable development and recognises that planning and building have a significant role to play in achieving it
- The involvement of planning at the initial site planning stage enables the orientation, internal layouts and site development to be dealt with in a manner that may assist at the building approval stage in achieving the best design outcome for the minimum (or even a higher) thermal energy rating of the building
- The role of planning delivering sustainability is limited by the fact that it can only influence development that requires a planning permit
- Whilst the existing State Planning Policy Framework and Victoria Planning Provisions provide a good starting point for the inclusion of sustainability, there are clear areas for improvement
- A statewide approach to sustainability in planning would be effective to achieve the greatest sustainability outcomes, however, there is still a potential role for local policies to play in achieving greater local outcomes. Any local approach should include a sunset clause that would enable the review of these policies upon the introduction of any statewide approach
- There are positive economic, social and environmental benefits to be gained through improved sustainable development outcomes in planning
- The proposed local policies are unlikely to impose an unreasonable regulatory cost burden on applicants. The consideration of ‘affordability’ should extend beyond construction and consider ongoing servicing costs
- The range of tools available are appropriate in assessing the environmental impact of residential and commercial development.
Review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act: update
We’ve heard on the grapevine that changes to the Act are currently being prepared with the intention to release an exposure draft for comment shortly. Stay tuned.
In the news...