In this issue:                                                                     December, 2015

Plan Melbourne refresh submission
Animal Industries Advisory Committee
Managing Residential Development Advisory Committee
Environment Protection Regulations review
Infrastructure Contribution Reform
Briefing on amendments to the Planning and Environment Act
Planning fees review
Interesting tid bits

What’s happening in planning?

We would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year. We look forward to working alongside you in 2016.

Plan Melbourne refresh submission

Thank you for your feedback on our Plan Melbourne submission, which was recently approved by the MAV Board. The focus of our submission, consistent with our previous two submissions to Plan Melbourne, is on getting the governance, funding and implementation arrangements right to give Plan Melbourne 2016 the greatest chance of success.

With the establishment of Infrastructure Victoria there is now an opportunity to link the infrastructure funding priorities identified by the sub-regional groups to the development of the 30-year infrastructure plan (and five-year interim plans).

For the Plan to succeed, a strong relationship with local government is also required, and a number of suggestions were made about improvements to the sub-regional groups, developing agreements with councils, exploring infrastructure needs in peri-urban areas, and funding for the strategic and statutory implementation of the Plan.

Our submission, along with a video of our Plan Melbourne briefing, is available to download from our website. We look forward to seeing the final metropolitan strategy early next year.

Animal Industries Advisory Committee

We recently met with the Animal Industries Advisory Committee and several councils to share our thoughts on how the planning system can support the establishment and expansion of productive animal industries in Victoria, while balancing environmental outcomes and community expectations. The Advisory Committee is expected to release a discussion paper for feedback in late December. The MAV will circulate a submission in late January for feedback.

Recent VCAT and media commentary have highlighted the need to increase community confidence that environmental, odour, and noise impacts associated with intensive animal husbandry are appropriately regulated. The technical assessment of these matters is often beyond the expertise of councils and relies on engaging a private consultant to verify compliance with the relevant codes and standards.

Based on feedback from members, we see benefit in investigating the potential for the broader use of accredited auditors under the Environmental Protection Act to verify compliance with the relevant codes and standards as part of the planning permit process, and for enforcement cases. Similar arrangements exist for Cattle Feedlots, where operators are required to submit the following information to the responsible authority:

  • A pre-operation compliance statement detailing that the requirements of the Code and other standards have been met as part of the planning permit
  • An annual audit statement demonstrating compliance with the design and operational requirements of the Code and other standards
  • Additional compliance statements where, in the view of the responsible authority, there is reasonable evidence to believe that a feedlot is not complying with the Code.

Beyond building community confidence that these activities are appropriately managed, this arrangement would ensure regulatory consistency across the state, and provide councils and applicants with authoritative advice. Please contact us if you have any feedback on this topic.

Managing Residential Development Advisory Committee

The Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne has appointed an Advisory Committee to report on the application of zones that provide for residential development in metropolitan Melbourne, and the four regional cities of Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong and Latrobe.

The Advisory Committee has eight committee members, and is chaired by Chief Planning Panels Member, Kathy Mitchell. A Department taskforce has also been established to assist the Advisory Committee, and to help prepare a Residential Zones State of Play report for each of the metropolitan sub-regions.

We, along with several councils, met with the Advisory Committee to get an overview of the review process. The MAV shared the feedback collected through our MAV Victoria Planning Provision Survey, and our sessions on the residential zones over the past 12 months.

The Terms of Reference for the Advisory Committee are now available. The Committee is tasked with an issues and options report looking at:

  • The approach to monitoring residential development over time including consideration of Ministerial Direction No.16, and the role of councils and the Department
  • A model methodology for preparing planning scheme amendments
  • Improvement to the residential zones
  • Whether there are any further opportunities to improve the residential zones and/or associated planning tools.

The Committee will be seeking feedback during January and February on these items. The MAV intends to prepare a submission to this review. For further information, contact Gareth Hately.

Environment Protection Regulations review

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) are reviewing the Environment Protection (Scheduled Premises and Exemptions) Regulations 2007 before they sunset in mid-2017.

These Regulations apply requirements to a range of industrial and commercial activities with the potential for significant environmental impacts. They prescribe premises in Victoria that are required to obtain an EPA works approval and/or licence, and/or provide a financial assurance.

Consistent with our submission to the EPA Inquiry, we called for wind farms to become a scheduled activity under the regulations and be required to undergo annual testing to verify ongoing noise compliance. Compliance testing would be funded through an annual licence fee similar to other electricity generators and industries.

We are of the view that such an arrangement is critical in the context of a forecasted increase in wind energy, detailed in Victoria’s Renewable Energy Road map, and the need to rebuild community confidence that the industry is appropriately regulated.

We are pleased to report that this arrangement is supported by the Clean Energy Council in its recent submission to the EPA Inquiry, the Federal Government Select Committee on wind turbines, and the local government sector.

Infrastructure Contribution Reform

The MAV and five councils continue to represent the sector on the DELWP Infrastructure Contribution Implementation Reference Group (IRG). The group is tasked with considering and providing feedback on implementation of the new infrastructure contribution system.

The fourth meeting was held in December and focused on allowable items lists for different infrastructure types. A meeting of the MAV working group was held last week to seek feedback on the documents. Consolidated feedback along with a MAV position paper on the reform package has been circulated to the working group for feedback.

On behalf of the MAV, we’d like to thank the working group for their assistance throughout the year on this important project.

Briefing on amendments to the Planning and Environment Act

The MAV arranged a briefing from DELWP on the Planning and Environment (Recognising Objectors) Act 2015 and the metropolitan planning levy. A copy of the presentations can be viewed on our website. What constitutes a significant social effect was discussed at VCAT.

Based on member feedback, an overview of the Metropolitan Planning Levy provided clarification on when the levy should be charged. Whether the levy should be charged for subdivision still remains an issue. The Department flagged that the levy will collect $17.1 million annually and will be used to partly fund the Department and Metropolitan Planning Authority (MPA) activities. Councils emphasised the need for some of this funding to be used to fund the sub-regional planning activities of the MPA, and for the expenditure of the levy to be reported on in both agencies’ annual reports.

Planning fees review

The MAV, along with councils, continues to participate in the DELWP review of planning fees. The second meeting of the Stakeholder Reference Group occurred in November. The group was briefed on preliminary activity based costing for planning permit fees, and principles that will inform the regulatory impact statement. The consultant is still waiting for costing information on the planning scheme amendment process. A draft regulatory impact statement will be released in 2016 for feedback.

Interesting tid bits

Upcoming MAV events...

February - March

MAV Strategic Planning Meetings

22 - 23 March

Smart Urban Futures Conference

30 March

Company Directors Course


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