Baillieu to review whole planning regime! Make a submission now!

The Minister for Planning has established an Advisory Committee to review the entire planning system in Victoria.  The Committee is seeking public comment. They want to know:
1. What’s good about the system?
2. What works well and what doesn't?
3. What are the ways to fix the problems and improve the system?
4. How can the planning system be more effective and efficient?
5. How can the planning system be made easier to access and understand?
6. Is the present planning system right for Victoria?
7. Are the respective roles of the State and Local Government in the planning system still appropriate?

You only have a short time to comment!   Submissions are due by 31 August 2011.     

For details click here

We’d like a copy for the SOS website, since the Department has made no commitment to put them up on its website…..

SOS Comment:

The Minister’s new Planning Advisory Committee won't include the hoped-for wide range of experts from industry, academia, planning and environmental bodies and the social sciences.

Instead, it will consist of just half a dozen experts with a strong background in the planning bureaucracy and the development industry to give an "industry perspective" to the government on the biggest overhaul of the planning system in Victoria for almost two decades.

The Committee will be headed by Geoff Underwood, executive director of developer lobby group the Urban Development Institute of Australia (Victoria) for 14 years and a previous director of development facilitation within the Victorian planning bureaucracy. 

Despite its small and biased composition, the Committee is charged with a huge task:  “to provide advice on ways of improving the planning system including the legislative base, the structure of planning schemes including the structure of state and local policy provisions, as well as regulations under the Planning and Environment Act 1987

Yet this small Committee will only have a few months (until the end of November) to make preliminary recommendations on changes to the entire planning regime!

The time allowed for public consultation is also far too short – “the committee must allow submitters at least 28 days to make a submission and provide an opportunity for municipalities to make a presentation to the Committee at least on a regional basis”.

The process also lacks transparency – submissions to the Committee must be available for public inspection only until the Committee’s report is finished when they will be handed over to DPCD.  But there is no requirement for any submissions to be published on the DPCD website, despite the fact that in this electronic age, the Net is the only feasible method of public access to this documentation.

Just window dressing?  It’s certainly an inadequate and biased process, with even less “consultation” than under former Minister Madden.

(Read more:  Public shut out of planning review”, The Age 16.6.11)

Instead, Premier Baillieu should be following the examples of cities that have developed successful City Master Plans with wide community and bipartisan political support – see The Grattan Report, October 2010:  “Cities – Who Decides?”

The report investigated urban planning decision-making in eight of the world’s most successful cities.  In each case, significant and ongoing public consultation was vital.  Cities investigated included Vancouver, Toronto, Chicago and Copenhagen – chosen because they shared important characteristics with Australian cities.

If consultation shortcuts need to be taken due to time constraints, then the government should at least incorporate the community feedback from the Melbourne 2030 public consultation process into the intended new planning regime, and add input from independent academic, environmental and social experts.  

In the interim, until the new planning regime is ready, most planning controls should simply be made mandatory to provide certainty and better planning outcomes.