In this issue:                                                                     March, 2015

Meeting with the Minister and planning fees
Plan Melbourne refresh
Wind farm planning policy change
Amended MAV and MPA Partnership Agreement
Next steps for the draft building enforcement MOU
Wind farm noise assessments
Funding for rural council planning flying squad
MAV Managing Built Form project
CFA Standard Referral Agreement Project
Guide to dealing with referral authorities
Summary of 2014 planning and building commitments
Certification scheme for contaminated land assessors and managers
VCAT briefing

Sector conversation on planning and building enforcement forum
Sector conversation on VBA audit results
MAV Rural and Regional Planning Conference: 25-26 June
Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard: free trial period
Proposed Planning and Environment Regulation submission
Panel to consider submissions on Bourke Hill built form controls
Metropolitan Strategic Assessment LG Liaison Group established
Interesting tid bits
Events

What’s happening in planning?

Meeting with the Minister and Planning fees

The MAV had its first meeting with the Minister for Planning in March, who illustrated a willingness to work with the MAV and sector to address unresolved planning issues. With information from several councils, we also used this meeting to advocate for a review of planning fees. Specifically the:

  • Adjustment of planning permit fees by 18 per cent on expiry of the interim regulations (October 2015) to return planning fees to their real value
  • Review of the 2008 draft Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) to adjust fees, release the RIS for consultation and introduce new fees to achieve a greater level of cost recovery.

The Planning and Environment (Fees) Regulations were set in 2000 and were scheduled for review in 2010. Councils invested a significant amount of resources and goodwill to inform the development of a draft regulatory impact statement in 2008, well ahead of 2010 expiry but the review failed to progress. Interim regulations have been made annually since 2010.

Since 2000 there has been eight years in which fees have not been indexed. MAV analysis reveals this has resulted in a significant accumulated shortfall of $17.6 million for councils. The MAV has circulated an excel spread sheet to planning directors to understand the accumulated shortfall for their council.

The Minister acknowledged the need for a review of planning fees and we have written seeking a formal commitment. An advocacy strategy is being developed in the lead up to the expiry of Interim Regulations in October 2015.

Plan Melbourne refresh

The State Government has announced a reboot of Plan Melbourne, which will include reconvening the expert Ministerial Advisory Committee that developed the original plan.

In our meeting with the Minister for Planning, he reiterated there is no intention of ripping up the plan and starting afresh, but will revisit some of its content to address concerns of the Advisory Committee and reflect the government's transport projects. We look forward to engaging with the government and councils during the second half of this year on this important topic.

For further information, contact Gareth Hately on 9667 5596.

Wind farm planning policy change

The State Government has announced a change in policy on wind farms, including a reduction in the buffer zone for the development of wind farms from existing dwellings from 2km to 1km, and the transfer of assessment responsibility back to the Minister for Planning.

The change in government policy will be met with mixed views by councils. Several councils are supportive of retaining decision-making responsibility for wind farms, while still having the flexibility to refer that application to the Minister. Given councils remain responsible for enforcement, we believe that an annual audit statement provided to council at the operators cost by an independent accredited auditor is required. This would reduce the enforcement burden on councils and build confidence in the regulation of the industry.

It is important that local government has input early in the process, as well as at the time of assessment and development of permit conditions so traffic management issues that plagued many of the early wind farms can be addressed.

Amended MAV and MPA Partnership Agreement

Last year we developed and signed a Partnership Agreement with the Metropolitan Planning Authority (MPA) that committed both parties to work in a spirit of cooperation, and recognise the important role each plays in land use planning.

We received feedback from councils about the operation of the agreement in November and entered into negotiations to improve the agreement. An amended version is now available. Additional procedural matters have been included for strategic planning and planning permit assessment.

The MAV is committed to monitoring the effectiveness of the agreement and is keeping a log of matters to be discussed as part of a formal review scheduled in early 2016. We encourage you to report any issues or concerns.

For further information, contact Gareth Hately on 9667 5596.

Next steps for the draft building enforcement MOU

A draft building enforcement MOU was circulated to councils in December for comment.

The feedback has been collated into a summary of issues raised. While feedback acknowledged the need for clarification of roles and responsibilities, specific comment was received in relation to the:

  • Scope of the MOU
  • Role of the council/MBS
  • Role of the Building Control Intervention Filter Criteria
  • Referrals to Victoria Building Authority
  • Structure, language and formatting issues.

It is proposed that the MAV undertake a detailed review of the feedback and convene a working group of councils to identify solutions, or agree on an appropriate way forward.

For further information, email Michelle Croughan or call 9667 5541.

Wind farm noise assessments

We convened councils late last year to understand unresolved matters in relation to wind energy facilities. A lack of community confidence in the assessment of noise compliance was identified as a key concern. It was agreed that the MAV would approach the EPA to understand what assistance they could provide.

We are pleased to report that the MAV, in collaboration with the EPA, and in consultation with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning are working with environmental auditors appointed under the Environment Protection Act 1970 to be able to access their professional services on a fee for service basis.

This arrangement is expected to provide authoritative and independent advice on wind energy facility compliance with the relevant standards and planning permit conditions. Importantly, in addition to the provision of advice to local government, we expect that over time these services will also be accessed directly by the wind energy industry, offering additional certainty to local government and the community that the application complies with the relevant standards as part of the planning permit assessment process.

On behalf of the MAV, we’d like to thank participants from the wind farm working group for their assistance in developing this arrangement.

For further information, contact Gareth Hately on 9667 5596.

Funding for the rural council planning flying squad

The MAV has been informed that the future of the rural council flying squad is uncertain due to funding reprioritisation.

Consistent with the MAV Call to Parties document, we support the flying squad as a mechanism to assist councils with major projects, long term land use issues, strategic plans, and immediate planning support with planning permit and amendment work.

We have written to the Minister for Regional Development, Jaala Pulford and the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne calling for the continuation of this important program over the next four years.

MAV Managing Built Form project

Assisting councils to improve the quality of residential design in rural and regional councils is the primary goal of the Managing Built Form project. Planisphere has been working away at identifying the good (and not so good) examples of residential design in a number of different categories.

A workshop was held on 5 March to interrogate the examples to identify what worked and what didn’t. The next workshop will be held in May to work through a draft guide outlining what characteristics are critical in different circumstances, and the tools and approaches that might be used to protect existing character or create character.

For further information, email Michelle Croughan or call 9667 5541.

CFA Standard Referral Agreement Project

A small working group of council officers has been established with the CFA to develop standard referral agreements for CFA referrals as a way of streamlining the assessment of planning permit applications in the Bushfire Management Overlay (BMO).

Preliminary agreements are being developed for subdivisions that create a road where the requirements of Clause 56.09-3 are not met and lower risk applications within the BMO. Once the agreements are finalised, a series of briefings will be held across the state to encourage uptake.

We’d like to thank participants from the working group for their assistance in the drafting of agreements.

For further information, contact Gareth Hately on 9667 5596.

Guide to dealing with referral authorities

Two types of referral authorities now exist – a recommending referral authority and a determining referral authority.

A determining referral authority has power to require a permit application to be refused or for certain conditions to be included in a permit. A recommending referral authority can only comment on an application. A council (responsible authority) must consider these comments but are not obliged to refuse the application, or to include any conditions required by the recommending referral authority.

Given this new decision-making environment, a guide has been prepared by the MAV to assist councils in considering, determining and enforcing permits where a recommending referral authority is involved. The guide also provides advice on liability and enforcement of planning permit conditions. It has been distributed to councils, along with an invitation to attend a briefing on 31 March.

For further information, or for a copy of our guide, contact Gareth Hately on 9667 5596.

Summary of 2014 planning and building commitments

A summary of planning and building commitments, made by the State Government as part of the 2014 election, has been circulated to planning directors. The commitments are found across the government response to the MAV Call to Parties, the 2014 Election Platform, Plan for Your Community, and Plan for Jobs and Growth.

The document also includes the MAV's preliminary or contextual comments on each of the commitments. We hope the document is useful to understand what some of the emerging priorities may be over the next four years. We look forward to working with the government and discussing these priorities further.

Certification scheme for contaminated land assessors and managers

In response to concerns about variable service levels provided by site contamination practitioners, the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE) in consultation with regulators, industry and consultants, has developed a certification scheme to benchmark, maintain and improve the standard of professional services.

Under the brand of Site Contamination Practitioners Australia, the certification scheme is designed to complement the accredited environmental auditor system currently operating in Victoria. The new certification scheme is relevant to those commissioning or reviewing site contamination reports, or who have involvement in contaminated land issues.

For more information, contact Paul Saeki on (08) 8302 3933.

VCAT briefing

We invited the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to brief councils on the recent procedural and legislative changes at VCAT.

The briefing provided an overview of new application forms, listing improvements, compulsory conferences, and the reimbursement of fees. A copy of the presentation and fact sheets has been distributed to attendees and planning directors and managers.

We’d like to thank Member Carew for her presentation.

Sector conversation on planning and building enforcement forum

The MAV recently hosted a workshop to provide councils with the opportunity to understand the different approaches to planning and building enforcement.

A total of eight councils shared their approach, what’s working well, and what they have learnt. It also provided the council host with an opportunity to ask questions of their peers.

The workshop was attended by 80 delegates from a range of councils. A short report summarising the peer to peer conversation was distributed to councils.

Sector conversation on VBA audit results

The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) has audited building permit files relating to the administrative and technical requirements of the Building Act and Regulations in 2014. To provide the sector with an understanding of the results, we invited the VBA to brief councils and highlight matters of relevance to local government. The session was followed by a workshop to discuss potential improvement ideas to address audit matters. A short report, summarising the workshop conversation, was distributed to councils.

MAV Rural and Regional Planning Conference: 25-26 June

Save the date! The MAV Rural and Regional Planning Conference will be held at the recently opened Vibe Marysville Hotel and Conference Centre from 25-26 June this year.

With the assistance of knowledgeable industry thought leaders, we are in the process of pulling together an inspiring program that will blow your socks off.

Further information will be distributed shortly.

Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard: free trial period

The Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE) is excited to announce an update to the Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS) tool.

BESS is a sustainability assessment tool for buildings, and can be used to prepare sustainable design reports to submit with a planning application.

All Victorian councils are offered free access to the BESS tool until the end of June. From July, subscribing councils will continue to be able to receive BESS reports for developments within their municipality.

Training in the BESS tool will be available from June. For further information, contact the CASBE Coordinator.

Proposed Planning and Environment Regulation submission

We recently made a submission to the proposed Planning and Environment Regulations 2015 (Proposed Regulations). The submission was prepared based on feedback to a Members Brief circulated to planning directors earlier this month. Our submission flagged that the current regulations provide appropriate support to the Planning and Environment Act and that fundamental changes are not required.

We did raise concerns with the reduction in time for further information requests, and the lack of evidence for such a change. Well outside of the scope of the Regulations review, we called for an overhaul of application requirements in the zones and overlays to address information that is routinely requested as part of further information requests.

For further information, email Michelle Croughan or call 9667 5541.

Panel to consider submissions on Bourke Hill built form controls

The Minister for Planning has prepared Amendment C240 to the Melbourne Planning Scheme to change the planning controls within an area of Melbourne's CBD known as 'Bourke Hill'. Bourke Hill, bounded by Lonsdale, Exhibition, Little Collins and Spring Streets, is identified in the Melbourne Planning Scheme as an important heritage precinct which relies on a consistency of scale for its unique character.

Metropolitan Strategic Assessment LG Liaison Group established

The Melbourne Strategic Assessment (MSA) program evaluated the impacts of the government’s urban development program for Melbourne on matters of national environmental significance listed under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), and established measures to mitigate those impacts.

A MSA Local Government Liaison Group is being established by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to facilitate information sharing, provide an opportunity for feedback on implementation issues, identify improvement opportunities and assist in the implementation of the program.

The Group will also provide a vehicle for site and council area specific issues to be resolved through separate targeted discussions between DELWP and group members. An invitation to participate in this group has been sent to CEOs seeking nominations from interested officers.

Interesting tid bits

Upcoming MAV events...

13 April

Evaluation, negotiation, supplier selection and contract establishment workshop

22 April

Social enterprise and economic development in local government workshop

23 April

Company Directors Course

 

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