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?
STEP planning pilot starts
The MAV, in partnership with DTPLI and 10 pilot councils from metropolitan and regional Victoria, are about to commence the pilot of the new STEP Planning Improvement Program.
The pilot program has been broadened to facilitate a whole-of-council approach to improvements, while focusing on staff development, strategic planning, customer service, and process improvement.
We will keep you updated on the program as it progresses.
For further information, contact Kevin Peachey on 9667 5529.
VicSmart information sessions
The MAV has been working with the DTPLI on a series of joint information sessions across Victoria during July and August.
This week the Department released the final process and provisions for VicSmart, as well as a supporting information kit. The provisions will be formally introduced in September.
The main change of note is the introduction of a further five-day information period. The Planning and Environment Regulations will be amended to achieve this. A number of the categories have also been tightened in response to submissions.
The sessions will be in two parts with the first outlining the new VicSmart process, provisions, and classes of application, and an overview of possible business practices. The second part is a facilitated workshop to assist councils in identifying process issues and redesign processes to implement VicSmart.
We strongly encourage you to attend both sessions. We also encourage you to bring along senior administrative staff and customer service staff who play a critical role business processes.
Please register your attendance via email.
For further informationabout VicSmart, contact Michelle Croughan on 9667 5541.
MAV finalises Partnership Agreement with the MPA
The MAV Board resolved at its June meeting to endorse the MAV and MPA Partnership Agreement subject to some minor changes agreed to by the MPA. The endorsement concludes several months of negotiation.
The objective is to encourage a cooperative relationship between the MPA and local government, while outlining the broad working relationships between the MPA and councils. This agreement does not prevent individual agreements being developed and should be seen as complimentary to any existing arrangements.
Consistent with feedback from the sector, the MAV will pursue several recommendations that fall outside of the scope of the agreement, specifically:
- The establishment of a regular Ministerial forum with mayors and CEOs to discuss metropolitan and regional planning issues and opportunities, and to report back on activities
- The development of criteria with the sector to inform when it is appropriate for the MPA to become the Responsible Authority or Planning Authority for designated sites or precincts
- The notification to a council, in advance, of the MPA becoming the Responsible Authority or Planning Authority for a designated site or precinct.
A copy of the agreement has been circulated to councils and planning directors. It is intended to be reviewed within 12 months of operation.
For further information, contact Gareth Hately on 9667 5596.
In April we wrote to the Federal Minister for Health about the noise and health impacts of wind farms in response to the National Health and Medical Research Council’s draft information paper Evidence on Wind Farms and Human Health.
We are very pleased with Minister Dutton’s response, which advises that the National Health and Medical Research Council will release a targeted call for research into the possible health impacts of wind farms once the submissions to the draft information paper has been considered.
Planning and building training for councillors
With assistance from HW Ebsworth Lawyers, the MAV has developed a program to train councillors in the fundamentals of the planning and building system.
The program will become one of the MAV’s regular councillor development activities and will be rolled out next financial year.
On behalf of the MAV, we’d like to thank the planning directors and managers who directly informed the content of the program.
Planning Policy Framework Review
Thank you for your feedback on the Planning Policy Framework Review.
A copy of the submission is available to download from the MAV Planning and Building webpage.
Save the date – Planning Improvement Program
Hold on to your hat!
The MAV Planning Improvement Conference will be held on 26 September.
Further details will be released soon.
MAV Plan Melbourne and Development Contribution Reform briefing
Thank you for attending the MAV Plan Melbourne and Development Contribution Reform briefing.
All presentations, including a recording, are available to download from the MAV Planning and Building webpage.
Thank you to DTPLI and the MPA for their support in organising the briefing.
MAV Rural and Regional Planning Conference – sold out
A total of 170 delegates from across rural and regional Victoria are attending the two-day conference in the Yarra Valley.
We’d like to thank you for your ongoing support for the conference. We’d also like to acknowledge sponsors Planisphere, and DTPLI, and our presenters and session chairs for taking time out of their busy schedules.
All presentations will be available to download from the MAV rural planning webpage.
In other news...
Implementation of the residential zones
Well done to the councils that have now had their residential zones amendments progress through the Standing Advisory Committee, and approved by the Minister for Planning.
We have written to the Minister seeking confirmation that those councils that have requested approval, but have not yet made it through the process, will not be automatically translated to the General Residential Zone on 1 July. This is particularly important for those that currently use the full suite of existing residential zones.
Plan Melbourne has finally been released and is now available online.
Ministerial Direction 9 - Metropolitan Strategy has also been amended.
Translation into planning schemes has not yet occurred and has been delayed by the consideration of the Advisory Committee for the review of the State Planning Policy Framework.
Office of Planning Performance council survey
The DTPLI Office of Planning Performance is undertaking research via a survey to help understand how the planning permit experience can be improved for both planners and applicants.
They are seeking to examine the experience and issues around planning permit applications ‘from both sides of the counter’. To do this, planning permit applicants and council planners are being surveyed separately.
A survey has been sent to all planning directors from Market Solutions. We encourage directors to send this to all staff that are involved with planning permit applications.
This is the first time that a research approach has been taken to planning system experiences rather than relying on anecdotal stories. We are hopeful that any process reforms will be better targeted.
For further information, contact Peter Allen on 9947 1206.
VCAT Amendment Act 2014
Councils will have greater involvement in the final decision in review cases before VCAT, under new legislation that came into effect on 2 June.
Previously, if VCAT reviewed a decision made by a council, the Member hearing the matter would take over all decision-making power and responsibility.
Under the new Act, VCAT may invite a council to reconsider their decision. A council will be able to reaffirm their original decision, vary it, or make a new decision. VCAT will then take that decision (whether it is unchanged, varied or entirely new) as the decision to review at a hearing.
As far as possible, VCAT will ensure that an invitation to reconsider does not delay a matter in being listed for hearing by the Tribunal, unless parties consent.
We understand that Greater Bendigo CC v Wearne  VCAT 706 (13 June 2014) is the first VCAT fee reimbursement for a planning related matter under the new general reimbursement provisions.
Hold put on coal seam gas exploration approvals
The State Government has announced a hold on work plan approvals for onshore gas exploration along with its current moratorium on fracking.
The hold will be in place until more information is available including evidence from a water study, community views, and industry impacts.
Currently there are 73 licences in place for coal seam, shale, and tight gas exploration, and 23 approved fracking operations.
Community consultations were undertaken throughout June in Gippsland and Western Victoria. The sessions were held as ‘open days’ and included information sessions for communities.
Exemption for caravan annexes
DTPLI is seeking feedback about exempting caravan annexes from needing a planning permit.
The annexe must be attached to a movable caravan located on land used for a camping and caravan park.
The Department has written to all councils seeking feedback by 14 July. If you have any concerns about this proposal, contact Michelle Croughan.
Updated bushfire mapping
A review of bushfire prone area mapping has removed 7,549 properties and included 133.
The purpose of the review is to ensure the mapping is accurate and up-to-date. It enables mapping anomalies to be identified and for areas that are no longer a hazard to be removed.
The amended Bushfire Prone Area maps were approved under the Building Regulations 2006, and gazetted on 3 June.
The fifth review of the Bushfire Prone Area map is currently underway and councils have been asked to identify areas/sites that they would like reviewed.
The BPA mapping criteria is available online to provide greater transparency.
Building Legislation (Amendment) Bill
The Building Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2014 was introduced into the legislative assembly on 7 May 2014.
Unfortunately, while the legislation includes many positives, consultation was not undertaken with local government or other key stakeholders and this has resulted in potential unintended consequences.
Councils are concerned that the Bill creates an expectation that council will be required to intervene in matters currently the responsibility of a private building surveyor and the Victorian Building Authority (VBA).
We ran a briefing for Municipal Building Surveyors to explore the intent and consequences of the Bill. We also met with the Victorian Municipal Building Surveyors Group (VMBSG), and DTPLI to discuss concerns. We subsequently wrote to the Minister for Planning requesting clarification on the changes and requested that guidance material be published to explain the reforms, its intent, and how it changes existing process.
According to the parliamentary documents the Bill is still listed for 24 June.
Key aspects of the Bill include:
- An amendment to section 212 which outlines that ‘a council is responsible for administering Parts 3,4,5,7 and 8 for building work in its municipal district whether or not a private building surveyor is appointed as the relevant building surveyor’
- Notification of council (and the VBA), by private building surveyors, where there is:
- A non-compliance with a direction
- Failure to comply with an emergency order or building order or notice
- Certification by a private building surveyor that all required documentation has been lodged with council
- Establishment of a central reference system, administered by the VBA, for building permit numbers
We will keep you updated as new information becomes available.