In this issue:                                                                     October, 2014

Proposed Residential Growth Zone amendment
Political parties briefed on planning priorities
Sector conversation on planning and building enforcement
Climate Change Adaption MOU
MAV Planning Improvement Conference – wrap up
VCAT changes
Reports for city centre planning applications released
Councils kicking goals in the PIA Awards for Excellence

Metropolitan Planning Authority Levy
Recommended legislative changes for swimming pools and spas
Environmental Upgrade Agreement Bill: not passed
Building Amendment (Additional New Residential Zones) Regulations
Interesting tid bits

Hi all

We hope you enjoy this edition of the MAV Land Use Planning Bulletin which contains all the latest planning news in under two minutes.

What’s happening in planning?

Proposed Residential Growth Zone amendment

As many of you will be aware, the Residential Zone Standing Advisory Committee released its Overarching Issues Report. The State Government has supported recommendation four, proposing to remove reference to 'up to an including four storey development' from the purpose of the Residential Growth Zone. We have written to the Minister, raising the following matters:

  • Councils consulted with the community and made recommendations to government based on the current Residential Growth Zone
  • Owners and occupiers may not have made a submission based on the purpose of the Residential Growth Zone was to provide for buildings 'up to an including four storeys'
  • Submissions made by councils to the government were based on the Residential Growth Zone in that form, including reference to provide for buildings 'up to an including four storeys'.

We also flagged that amending the purpose reduces clarity on the development outcome expected, may make it more difficult to justify mandatory height controls, and dilutes the intent of the zone that was to act as a transitionary zone between the Commercial, Mixed Use and Residential Zones.

Given the caretaker period has commenced, it is unclear if the amendment will progress prior to the election. Shadow Planning Minister, Brian Tee flagged a review of the application of the Residential Growth Zone if elected. We hope any future review, regardless of the election result, does not undermine the ability to clearly define 'go-go', 'slow-go', and 'no-go' areas in council housing strategies.

Political parties briefed on planning priorities

The MAV has briefed the Coalition Government and the Victorian Labor party on the land use planning component of our Call to Parties document.

Both conversations were productive, and we look forward to a formal response over the coming weeks.

Sector conversation on planning and building enforcement

We are holding a world café style forum about planning and building enforcement on Wednesday 10 December from 10am-12.30pm at the MAV.

The purpose of the event is to give councils the opportunity to understand different approaches being taken including multi-disciplinary responses and specific issue campaigns.

Seven councils have been invited to host and facilitate discussions on their particular theme. The host will give a 10 minute presentation, and then each group will have 20 minutes to talk, ask questions of the host, and each other.

Registrations can be made online.

Climate Change Adaption MOU

The Minister for Environment and Climate Change, the MAV President, and the Chair of the Victorian Adaptation and Sustainability Partnership Ministerial Advisory Committee, have signed Victoria's first Climate Change Adaptation Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The MoU aims to establish a strong, shared foundation for state and local government to continue working together to clarify responsibilities relating to climate change adaptation, and sets out principles to guide work in adaptation.

Importantly, it commits to exploring the issues of clarifying legal liability for climate related risks.

For more information contact Martijn Gough.

MAV Planning Improvement Conference – wrap up

The MAV Planning Improvement Conference took place last month at the Sheraton Melbourne Hotel.

This event was well attended by more than 50 councils. There was a range of excellent speakers who presented on many areas of planning improvement. Stand-out presentations included Dr Kathy Alexander, CEO of the City of Melbourne, who presented on Lean Thinking; and Janet Dore, CEO of the Transport Accident Commission, who presented on Leadership and Style in large organisations.

Following the support for this event from the sector, the sixth MAV Planning Improvement Conference can be expected in late 2015.

Presentations from this event can be found on the MAV website. For more information, contact Kevin Peachey.

VCAT changes

As flagged in our last edition, changes to the provisions relating to failure to determine appeals have now been introduced at VCAT. The MAV has written to the State Government highlighting the following matters:

  • There is no evidence to suggest that council inefficiency is the primary reason for the high number of Failure to Determine applications to VCAT
  • Sixty days is not a statutory timeframe to determine an application and decisions after this time are still valid decisions
  • Improvement initiatives to any part of the planning process should not be considered in isolation.

To enable us to monitor the impact of the change, please report circumstances where you have been required to pay applicant fees. To discuss this matter, contact Gareth Hately.

Reports for city centre planning applications

The Minister for Planning has announced the public release of all departmental officer reports for central city planning applications since December 2010 where the Minister is the responsible authority.

The Minister stated that if re-elected the Coalition would continue to release these reports to give greater weight to transparency.

Councils kicking goals in the PIA Awards of Excellence 2014

We would like to congratulate all successful councils at the annual Victorian PIA Awards of Excellence 2014:

  • Moreland City Council: Best Planning Ideas – Small Project for Jewell of Brunswick
  • Moreland City Council: Workplace Award for Harvest Digital Planning’s new residential zones web tool
  • City of Whittlesea: Public Engagement and Community award for Housing Diversity Strategy
  • Warrnambool City Council: Promotion of Planning award for Liebig Streetscape Plan.

All award winners will progress to the National Awards, to be announced at the 2015 PIA Congress in Melbourne.

Metropolitan Planning Authority Levy

The Metropolitan Planning Authority Levy will take effect from 1 July 2015. It will be payable on planning permit applications where development costs exceed $1 million within metropolitan Melbourne.

The levy will be set at $1.30 for each $1,000 of estimated development costs. It will apply in addition to the permit application fee, which will still be paid to councils as currently occurs.

The MAV can confirm that the State Revenue Office will be the collection agency, not councils. If the levy is payable, the applicant will be required to submit a copy of the receipt obtained from the State Revenue Office to council, as part of the planning permit requirements.

The levy is expected to raise an estimated $17.1 million per year. It is estimated that approximately six per cent of all planning permits will be charged the levy.

Recommended legislative changes for swimming pools and spas

Deputy State Coroner Iain West, has handed down his findings and recommendations following an inquest into the 2008 drowning of a child in a private swimming pool.

The issues relate to pool and spa fencing standards and obligations, the roles and responsibilities of the property owner, the builder, the building surveyor, councils and real estate agents. The Coroner recommended the State Government consider changes to legislation including:

  • Registration of all private pools and spas on a statewide pool register
  • Fencing inspections every three years and prior to sale or rental
  • Uniform fencing standards regardless of the date of pool or spa construction.

The MAV is generally supportive of the recommendations proposed by the Coroner to improve swimming pool and spa regulations, and boost education for pool owners. We hope to work collaboratively with the State Government, Life Saving Victoria, the building industry, the Swimming Pool and Spa Association, and Consumer Affairs Victoria to further work through the Coroner’s recommendations.

The MAV encourages members to support KidSafe Victoria’s current initiative Close the Gate on Backyard Pool Drowning. The campaign forms part of the government's 'Play it Safe by the Water Campaign'.

Environmental Upgrade Agreement Bill: not passed

The Local Government Legislation (Environmental Upgrade Agreements) Bill 2014 was introduced into the Victorian Parliament to enable councils to offer Environmental Upgrade Agreements (EUAs) and is identified as an action in Plan Melbourne. The Bill did not pass through parliament prior to the election caretaker period.

An EUA is an agreement between a council, the owner of a non-residential building and a lending body. Under an EUA, the lending body advances funds to the building owner to finance approved environmental upgrades, and the council levies an environmental upgrade charge, via rates, to recover the funds and repay the lending body. The Bill would have extended the legislative scheme currently applying to the City of Melbourne.

The Minister for Energy and Resources has announced that if re-elected, the government will reintroduce legislation enabling councils to use EUAs.

Building Amendment (Additional New Residential Zones) Regulations

The Building Amendment (Additional New Residential Zones) Regulations 2014 were made, gazetted and commenced on 30 October.

The Amendment continues the implementation of the new residential zones by aligning the building approval system with planning schemes containing varied height, and siting provisions for the construction of single dwellings on an allotment.

Specifically, Schedule 5 to the Building Regulations 2006 has been updated to reflect approved planning scheme amendments: Ararat C33, Ballarat C177, Cardinia C187, Darebin C144, Greater Shepparton C173, Kingston C150, LaTrobe C84, Moorabool C72, Mornington Peninsula C179, Southern Grampians C34 and Whitehorse C160.

To ensure consistency between the planning permit and building approvals systems in relation to height limits, Schedule 5 has also been updated to reference the Residential Growth Zone (RGZ) for all planning schemes in which that zone it has been applied.

Interesting tid bits

Coalition Government Growing Melbourne Package
Growth area councils in Victoria will receive $120 million of funding from the State Government if re-elected, to provide improved infrastructure for communities, while $100 million has been committed for a regional cities infrstructure fund.

Labor reform to consider planning objections
Labor flags reform to state’s planning laws to give locals a greater say in new development at VCAT if elected.

Labor reform to the green wedge
Labor flags intention to maintain the boundaries of the green wedges if elected and will revisit what can be built in the green wedge zones.

Upcoming MAV events...

14 November

Planning & building 101

17 November

Safer road design for older pedestrians

20 November

2015 Electric line clearance regulations


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