SOS Election Eve Planning Update – 28 Nov.2014

1 – SOS candidates’ survey

2 – How to vote for better representation

3 – Summary – planning policies of the 3 main parties

(1)   SOS Candidates’ Survey for Election 2014: 

The results reveal wide spread concern across Victoria and across the political spectrum, with 95% support for reform to improve transparency, accountability and integrity in planning. The major issues of concern included public transport, integrity and affordable housing.

No responses were received from Coalition candidates and only a few from ALP candidates. The great majority of responses were from independents and Greens candidates, with a few from some of the micro-parties.

Media Release and Summary of Survey Responses:

Table of Individual Candidate Responses (latest update): Planning Survey Candidates RO

* And if you’re concerned about how the 3 parties stack up on environmental issues in particular, here’s the Environment Victoria Election Scorecard:

* The real rational behind the East West Link is trucks & ports!  Here’s the latest analysis:,7132


(2)   SOS suggestions on how to vote for better representation on Nov.29:

(A)    Select candidates with a personal track record of integrity and action on planning and community issues 

(B)    Vote below the line in the Upper House to make sure your preferences go in order to the candidates of your choice.   It’s simple to make a valid vote below the line in the Upper House ballot because in Victoria you only have to vote for 5 candidates, not number them ALL in order like the federal Senate  (see:

(C)     Independent & community candidates – see responses in survey results above. Some community-based candidates of note in the metro area include:

  • Rosemary West (Mordialloc) who has spent years fighting for better planning and preservation of our Green Wedges, mostly as a progressive councillor at Kingston Council;
  • Andrew Gunter (Niddrie), a lawyer, independent community activist and former advisor to the legendary Ted Mack MP in Sydney;
  • Phil Cleary (Upper House – Northern Metro Region),a social justice campaigner standing for the Voice of the West party which is challenging the neglect of the western suburbs by both Liberal and Labor govts;
  • Berhan Ahmed (Upper House – Western Metro Region), a social activist also standing for the Voice of the West and 2009 Australian of the Year. Born in Eritrea, immigrated from Egypt and gained a doctorate in Forest Sciences from Melbourne Uni.


(3)   Victorian Election 2014 – Summary of Liberal, Labor and Greens planning policies for Melbourne (SOS comments in bold): 

LIBERALS  – few specific planning policies released:

  • Undertake the biggest modernisation plan in Victoria’s history (relates to infrastructure issues).
  • Continue to improve housing affordability(but affordability is declining) and introduce a Housing Affordability Monitor (to be independent?)
  • Boost the capacity of councils in growth areas to cater for their expanding communities by providing extra funding through the $120 million Growing Melbourne Package (why not adequate value capture & developer infrastructure levies?).

The document is silent on a raft of key controversial urban planning issues like sustainability, VicSmart, VCAT reforms, CBD and activity centre high-rise development, and new state planning rules like Plan Melbourne and the inconsistent implementation of the new planning zones.

For more Coalition planning policy details:    

LABOR – More policies released but too weak or vague:

•  Review Victorian Planning Provisions to promote certainty in council land use planning (How? Mandatory planning rules for developers, or state VPPs over-riding local policy?)

  •  Strengthen Heritage Victoria’s role (How? HV is currently a toothless tiger)
  •  Use established climate change guidelines (but the old ones need updating & strengthening) to inform sustainability policies and strategies
  •  Review VCAT processes in respect to third party appeal rights (what about reducing excessive VCAT fees, pre-eminence of local policy, limitations on amended plans, etc?)
  •  Ensure a better balance of social, environmental and economic outcomes by reviewing VCAT processes and planning and environment laws (is this a commitment to completely re-write the Planning & Environment Act?)
  •  Promote the principles of third party rights in all processes (promote or introduce?)
  •  Accommodating population growth through well planned infill developments (like at present?), ensuring community views matter when determining neighbourhood character (How? Deliberative community consultation where govt is committed to acting on its recommendations?)
  •  Ensuring local planning schemes promote socially cohesive neighbourhoods through good urban design principles that incorporate diverse and affordable housing (How? Legislate for mandatory diversity-in-design limits and value capture/property development fees?)
  •  Ensuring health and well-being issues are considered throughout the planning system’s legislative and policy framework (good, but again that would require re-writing the Planning Act)  
  •  Using objective criteria (don’t they exist already?) to identify strategic locations for development close to transport and other services (what sort of development, and how is that different from Labor and Liberal policy over the last 15 years?)
  •  Implement and maintain urban growth boundaries for the metropolitan area, etc (does that mean the existing UGB or will that be re-set and extended yet again?)
  •  Strengthen and maintain Victoria’s green wedges by adopting a final urban growth boundary incorporating future green field development (does this mean an extension of the existing already-enlarged UGB to include hitherto untouched areas for development?)
  •  Fund councils impacted by urban and rural land use interface issues (by how much and to do what?)
  •  Devise planning laws to protect agricultural land from inappropriate development (How?)
  •  Work collaboratively with communities to formulate plans aimed at attracting and retaining residents Natural Environment and Urban Open Spaces (How? Use part of the state’s huge stamp duty revenue?)
  •  Require council planning strategies to address local environments and conservation (Council strategies already do this to some extent but are limited mostly by state constraints)
  •  Analyse and approve land uses against stringent sustainability criteria, such as water availability (what about adequate green open space, optimized building orientation & social amenity, access to a better Public Transport system, etc?)

For more Labor planning policy details, go to pp.72 – 88 :            

GREENS – many planning policies are closer to the concerns of community planning groups and residents, but some still lack detail:

  •  prioritise public transport, rail freight systems and integrated transport hubs
  •  meet the shortfall in affordable, public and social housing  (How?)
  •  mandatory inclusion of a mix of dwelling sizes in medium and high density general residential re-developments (determine the mix how?)
  •  Land use and transport decisions should be made (by which bodies in consultation with who?) after rigorous and transparent cost-benefit analyses, comparing relevant options
  •  All significant planning decision-making by local councils, within the statewide planning framework, mandated to include Community Engagement Frameworks (What sort of consultation? Only for strategic policy or in planning permit decisions as well?).
  •  Incorporation in the Planning scheme of the obligations of local and designated decision-making authorities regarding climate adaptation
  •  VCAT reverting to being an administrative appeals body only, rather than a de facto planning authority (fails to recognise the need for wider VCAT reform or that administrative appeals tribunals re-visit local and state govt. decisions so they do act as a planning authority.  See SOS VCAT Reform Summary, May 2014:
  •  mandate responsible authorities to enforce planning permits and prosecute breaches of the Planning and Environment Act (already exists but convoluted jurisdiction and inadequate resources for councils)
  •  clustering of medium-density housing, community facilities and commercial developments around neighbourhood shopping centres and other social facilities linked with public transport (a question of degree but similar to Plan Melbourne and Labor’s earlier Melbourne 2030)

For further Greens planning policy details, see: