Category Archives: Public

Backtrack, Dec.2013 – Critique of Plan Melbourne

First Posted By SOS – Posted on 04 December 2013 – keep this in mind when we publish the latest review over the coming weeks.

Plan Melbourne, VicSmart and New Residential Zones

The focus of Plan Melbourne is to drive delivery and facilitate development in general (Direction 7.1, p.163).  Virtually every aspect of the planning regime is to be modified to facilitate the economic vision of Plan Melbourne and make it “more relevant”.  This includes the entirety of each planning scheme – the new zones, changes to existing Overlays and Particular Provisions and the state and local planning policy frameworks (SPPF and LPPF) which will soon be rolled into one PPF.

Read more…...                                                            MAKE A SUBMISSION HERE

A more detailed version of this SOS analysis of Plan Melbourne can be found here

East West Link & Plan Melbourne undermined by resignation of advisory committee

 The integrity of the new draft planning strategy for Melbourne was thrown into doubt after it was revealed in December that the Minister’s Advisory Panel for Plan Melbourne had resigned over key transport concerns:…
Panel chair Roz Hansen publicly denounced the government’s $8 billion East-West Link in a submission to Melbourne Council’s “Future Melbourne Committee” on Dec.10, and called for Victorians to be given a choice on public transport issues.
Here’s a link to our previous article: Professor Hansen’s comments about the lack of justification for the EW Link and the failure of the State Government to respond to the demand for better public transport…..(12 min audio, Melb. City Council)

VCAT makes Hearing CDs available again after SOS lobby effort

From this update: SOS New Year Planning Update – 31 Jan.2014

VCAT makes Hearing CDs available again after SOS lobby effort
VCAT finally reinstated the availability of audio CD’s of hearings last November, at only slightly greater cost. On 26.11.12, VCAT had decided to terminate access to audio records of hearings, allegedly because some confidential legal comments might be picked up on the continuous recording Continue reading

East West Link – Roz Hansen Melb City Council Advice 2013-12-10

The recording below is an excerpt from the Melbourne City Council Meeting, where Roz Hansen points out that the East West link is not the number one priority for the City of Melbourne. Roz urges the Council to tell the CIS in their submission that in principle they have do not want the East West link.

Follow this link for the specific audio from the Future Melbourne Committee meeting, or go the the Melb City Council website for the entire meeting and minutes.

SOS comment on draft Metro Planning Strategy

Here’s what one veteran planner recently said about the draft MPS and its “20 minute city – living locally” motherhood objective:

“The idea that a key mission of planning in a city of 4-6 million people is to promote “living locally” as the headline objective is to misunderstand what a city is about”.

We agree.  Check out our submission on the draft MPS here. Continue reading

How a Council can undermine community consultation on planning – case study

The following case study reveals how Yarra City Council consistently subverted attempts by residents to persuade the council to address repeated flaws in the assessment of development applications.  Residents who were members of the Community Advisory Committee on Planning were not seeking to revise previous permit decisions but simply to persuade the council to at least learn from past mistakes by initiating procedures to improve future DA assessments.

There are lessons here for anyone dealing with council bureaucracies over contentious issues such as flawed permit application assessments.

This case study was undertaken as part of a Masters course in Planning at RMIT.  Further information is available from the author, who can be contacted at

NB 1:   The case analyses mentioned in the study that were referred to the DN Planning Audit can be found on this website under the Flawed Cases File.  There is also a link below to Council’s legal opinion admitting that there was no legal reason to prevent access to all documents in closed planning files.

NB 2:   On p.16 of the Study, Yarra Council is quoted as saying that all records of the 2003-2004 Community Advisory Committee meetings and all Council meeting records prior to 2003 were removed from the Yarra website in 2005.   However, as of Feb.2016, online records of council meetings are available dating back to 2007, confirming that Council’s real reason for deleting the 2003-2004 records only one year later was to remove information critical of the council, not because (as claimed) there was “not enough space on Council’s computer system”.

Open Case study Report here

Open References for the Report here

Public Access to Planning Files at Yarra – policy

Public Access to Council’s planning files – email letter from Maddocks Lawyers to Yarra CEO, 22.4.04  (note in particular pages 9 – 12 re access to closed files and relevant internal council memos)

Minister not even sure of own planning reforms

Planning Minister Guy has revealed that he or his department don't understand how some of the New Zone changes are actually going to work if they're brought into effect.

The minister has strongly attacked criticism of his recent planning Zone reforms ("Vocal minority peddling porkies on planning zones changes"), in particular by Prof. Michael Buxton, as we have mentioned before ("Planning for Disaster" – see earlier story below).

But, as professional planner Steven Rowley explained in The Age on Oct.6 ("Minister's zone chaos made manifest"), the minister seems to think that as-of-right incursions of shops and medical centres into residential areas would still need permits issued by councils and that residents could object "at that stage".

In fact, under the new zone provisions, these buildings would only need building permits which are issued by private building surveyors, not councils. Being commercial buildings instead of residential, they would not need to meet Rescode standards.  No amenity protection, no third party notice or appeal rights for residents…..

The only likely planning permit trigger would be for parking but if this is the only reason a permit is required, there would again be no notice or appeal rights for objectors.

There also appears to be nothing to prevent the owners of such a commercial building, once built, deciding that they'd prefer to transform the existing building shell into apartments.  With minor internal changes (kitchens, WCs, etc), such a non-conforming building would then have a right to be used as a residential building, even under existing planning controls.

It is significant that not only the majority of community submissions but most councils and even the Planning Institute have concerns about the strategic justification of the new reforms and the problems they're likely to cause.  Even federal Liberal Greg Hunt is worried ("Senior Lib admits Green Wedge fears")

All this just serves to illustrate that the present planning reforms are poorly thought through measures following a simplistic deregulation agenda.  Where is the pre-draft consultation with parties other than industry (behind closed doors)?  The independent expert input and peer review?  The publicly-released strategic research that should underpin any major planning reforms?  And where is the informed community consultation process?

All the new planning reforms will modify the new Metropolitan Planning Strategy, yet they all put the cart before the horse.  The small lot housing code, VicSmart, New Zones, etc have all been made public (some even gazetted) BEFORE the still-awaited release of the Metro Strategy  – in fact, the discussion paper on the MPS was only released on Friday Oct.26.

Our summary of that discussion paper and the comments of speakers at the launch will be uploaded to our website shortly.

You can view the Discussion Paper here and join the discussion through online forums, submissions and on Twitter with the username @planmelbourne and hashtag #talkmelbourne.  Feedback received from the community and industry groups are supposed to help shape the final Metropolitan Planning Strategy, which will act as a blueprint for Melbourne’s future for the next 40 years. Comments will be accepted until Friday March 1 2013.

Over the next few months a series of community and industry forums, information sessions and roundtable discussions will be held regarding the Discussion Paper.  The draft Metropolitan Planning Strategy is expected to be completed by Autumn 2013, with the final completed in Spring 2013.


PS:  For interesting and incisive comment on current planning issues, see the website of professional planner Steven Rowley –