Category Archives: Community Consultation

Open Forum on Fishermans Bend

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The Fishermans Bend Network are conducting a forum in the Performance Space at the Dockland Library on the 8th of December. 

The purpose of the forum is to try and find out what we have learnt from Southbank, Docklands and Yarra’s Edge and how can this assist us to do better. This is more of a social exploration to find out the sorts of communities that have evolved and how well they are functioning. How well has the built form, both the private and public, supported the evolving communities.

Further information contact David Rayson 0418 545 172


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)

‘The Triangle Wars’ in cinemas – from Thursday Oct.6

This stunning tribute to successful community action in St Kilda to save iconic land and property from over-development is now on limited public release at the Carlton Nova and 5 other cinemas in VIctoria, as well as Hobart and Narooma (see details below – runs 90min, rated M). 

Please encourage friends and family to come to the first few screenings. It's important to get people there early – otherwise the season will be cut short. With good word of mouth in Melbourne, the film will travel to cinemas around Australia, so please spread the word!

Nova, Carlton –

The Classic, Elsternwick –

The Cameo, Belgrave –

Peninsula Cinema, Rosebud –

Peninsula Cinema, Sorrento –

Theatre Royal, Castlemaine –

State Cinema, Hobart –

Narooma Cinema, Narooma –

Check out this review of the film!

EDO Planning Workshops for permit objectors: 2013

VCAT Planning & Environment Appeals Workshops

– for planning permit objectors involved in VCAT appeals.

The EDO VCAT planning appeals workshop runs for two hours and is designed to assist objectors to participate constructively and effectively in VCAT proceedings.

For more information or to discuss a workshop for your group, contact EDO Victoria (03) 8341 3100 or

Upcoming Workshops – Carlton – 60L Green Building

  • Thursday 31 January 2013
  • Tuesday 26 February 2013
  • Wednesday 27 March 2013

Attendees are given practical, legally-focused information about VCAT proceedings and hearings along with plenty of opportunity and encouragement for questions and discussion.

The program is flexible and topics can be tailored to meet the needs and interests of workshop attendees.

Topics include:

  • an overview of the Victorian Planning and Environment Law System, the Planning and Environment Act 1987, and Victorian Planning Schemes.
  • information about decision makers, third party rights, and appeals in the Victorian planning arena.
  • a detailed look at the review body, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (“VCAT”).

Printable EDO flier (PDF, 118KB)

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.

Real Community Consultation – the WA model

The most successful and productive community consultation in Australia over urban planning was  conducted by the WA Dept of Planning and Infrastructure (2001-2005), involving innovative ways to achieve joint decision-making with the community on controversial major planning issues.

SOS believes that this pioneering of deliberative democracy is the way forward to regenerate trust in the planning regime in VIctoria.  These "deliberative" consultation processes should be used to review planning policies and planning legislation for fair and effective planning in Melbourne.

We would also expect this consultation process to recommend the establishment of an independent statutory authority answerable to Parliament but not subject to interference by the government of the day.

More on WA planning consultation:

SOS flyer on democratic Community Consultation & table of Deliberative Techniques used in WA