In this issue:                                                                     April, 2016

Investment to simplify Victorian planning system
Planning fees review
MAV Rural and Regional Planning Conference Program released

Better Apartments
Need for building reform
VCAT (Fees) Regulation 2016 review
Native vegetation clearing regulation review
Infrastructure Victoria’s consultation report released
New Victorian Floodplain Management Strategy
Interesting tid bits

What’s happening in planning?

With our Rural and Regional Planning Conference coming up in June, the MAV planning team has been very busy putting together an impressive line-up of speakers for the event (further details below). We hope to see many of you there! Please enjoy the latest edition of the planning bulletin.

Investment to simplify Victorian planning system

The Victorian Government announced a $25.5 million investment in the planning system in the State budget. We believe this is one of the biggest one-off investments in the system on record. The Australian first reported this initiative late last week.

The budget also includes $2.1 million for strategic planning in regional councils. We are yet to see the detail of the package, but look forward to working through it with councils and the Department once released.

Planning fees review

The MAV along with Port Phillip, Surf Coast, Shepparton, Wyndham and Glen Eira councils have been working with the Department on the review of planning fees.

The group met with the Department in late April to discuss the draft regulatory impact statement and the preliminary fees. The Stakeholder Reference Group is still trying to figure out if the revised fees capture the complexity and costs of larger scale subdivisions, and satisfaction matters specified as part of a planning permit condition.

We are able to advise that the Regulatory Impact Statement will be released in mid-May for comment. The MAV will notify councils via planning directors of its release and will coordinate a submission on behalf of our members.

For further information, contact Gareth Hately.

MAV Rural and Regional Planning Conference Program released

The MAV planning team and the City of Greater Bendigo have been working on a stellar conference program for the annual Rural and Regional Planning Conference on 23-24 June.

The theme for this year’s conference is Rural and Regional Victoria – realising its potential. Highlights include:

The cities of Warrnambool and Ballarat will also share their CBD renewal plans, and most importantly, unpack how they are delivering the plans through concrete actions across capital works, business facilitation, events, advocacy and public realm improvements.

The top 10 planning decisions that shaped practice this year will also be discussed by Chief Planning Panels Member, Kathy Mitchell; Senior VCAT Member, Iain Potts; and Maddocks Senior Associate, Darren Wong.

Registrations can be made online.

Better Apartments

The MAV is represented on the Stakeholder Reference Group of the Better Apartments working group. The reference group has been tasked with providing advice on the draft design measures and mechanisms.

Consistent with a MAV State Council resolution, a local government working group has been established with senior planning officers from metropolitan, regional and rural Victoria. The feedback will directly inform the MAV position and implementation measures.

The Department is expected to release the measures for public consultation in the third quarter of this year.

Need for building reform

The building system landscape has changed a lot since the Building Act was introduced in 1993, with private building surveyors now approving 90 per cent of the 105,000 building permits. However, the roles and responsibilities of councils remain unchanged.

Consistent with a MAV State Council resolution, the MAV is progressing conversations with government to undertake a broad review of the system to identify ways of improving the legislative base, procedures and practices, enforcement and monitoring of the system.

For further information, contact Gareth Hately

VCAT (Fees) Regulation 2016 review

The MAV has prepared a submission to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (Fees) Regulation Review Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS).

The RIS highlights a further increase in enforcement matters that have gone from $47 in 2013 to $1112.20, plus a daily hearing fee of $458.10. We emphasised that the pursuit of enforcement orders by councils is an essential statutory responsibility to ensure integrity of the planning system and schemes.

Communities also expect that councils will properly enforce the planning scheme and permits issued by it. We also put forward an argument to amend section 115C of the Act to enable councils to have fees reimbursed as part of an enforcement order proceeding. A copy of our submission will be available on our website shortly.

For further information, contact Gareth Hately.

Native vegetation clearing regulation review

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has released its native vegetation regulations discussion paper for consultation.

The paper outlines a number of recommendations to improve the operation of the regulations and strengthen the policy framework. The MAV, and some councils, are members of a working group and have provided input into the discussion paper.

The MAV also hosted a local government briefing and workshop on the discussion paper, and feedback from councils has been incorporated into our draft submission, which was circulated to councils for feedback. While there are differences of opinion across council departments, we have tried our best to put forward a sector position on the reform.

Our submission will be available on our website shortly.

For further information, contact Michelle Croughan

Infrastructure Victoria’s Consultation Report released

Infrastructure Victoria has released We Hear You, a consultation report that summarises and responds to feedback received on their Laying the Foundations discussion paper, and finalises the framework for the 30-year infrastructure strategy which will be released in November.

The MAV’s submission to the discussion paper highlighted potential improvements to Infrastructure Victoria’s draft framework, and improvements to the way the organisation consults with local government. It is positive to see that many of these concerns have been recognised in this consultation report including:

  • Addition of a new principle on integrated land-use and infrastructure planning
  • A new emphasis on the importance of local government’s role in planning, funding and delivering infrastructure
  • Formation of a local government reference group to advise Infrastructure Victoria during the formation of the 30-year infrastructure plan.

Infrastructure Victoria CEO, Michel Masson will speak at our upcoming MAV Rural and Regional Planning Conference on 23-24 June. 

New Victorian Floodplain Management Strategy

The Victorian Government has released its Victorian Floodplain Management Strategy. We commend the Department for the cooperative and consultative process undertaken for its development. We look forward to understanding more about how flood studies can be incorporated into planning schemes in an expedited manner. It’s also pleasing to see that DELWP is accountable for undertaking coastal hazard assessments for priority areas identified through Regional Coastal Plans. Specific to land use planning, we continue to have a number of concerns that we will be seeking to resolve. These include:

  • Reinstatement of Catchment Management Authorities as a determining authority. CMAs provide specialist technical input into the development approval process. Assessment and approvals made without the level of technical expertise may result in an increase in future damage and flooding. They are also impartial authorities that make determinations based on long-term risks associated with development within a catchment.
  • Under a CMA Statement of Obligations it is responsible for preparing flood studies, unless alternative arrangements are brokered with councils. Yet in the Victorian Floodplain Management Strategy, it states that LGAs usually lead the preparation from flood studies, with the CMAs providing technical support. While this is the case for some municipalities, many small rural shires rely on the CMA to manage such projects. We look forward to hearing from councils if this changes how floodplain strategies are managed.

Interesting tid bits

  • The Metropolitan Planning Authority is working with the Cities of Greater Dandenong, Kingston and Monash, State Government agencies and stakeholders to investigate future opportunities and challenges for the cluster.
  • Local government has been recognised as a partner in the Commonwealth’s Smart Cities Plan
  • Contributions for the Coast to Coast Conference close on 13 May. The Program Working Group is inviting contributions of original work for the national coastal management conference. It will be held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 29 August – 1 September.
Upcoming MAV events...

13 May

Get Unstuck workshop

17 - 18 May

Future of Local Government National Summit

8 - 9 June

National Local Government Infrastructure and Asset Management Conference


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