As you've no doubt been hearing in the media for weeks now, the Planning Minister has embarked on a "call-in" spree to give "strategically important projects" a permit without any transparent process or community input. Local councillors as well as residents are becoming increasingly outraged.
A COALITION OF CONCERNED COUNCILLORS WILL JOIN FORCES WITH RESIDENTS IN A PROTEST RALLY ON THE STEPS OF PARLIAMENT ON WEDNESDAY 10TH JUNE AT 1 PM.
This action is being organised by the Planning Backlash Coalition – 9882 2829 or 0401 834 899 Premier Brumby and Planning Minister Madden are by-passing planning laws to fast track the building of hundreds of apartment complexes and school extensions without council planning permits. Most of the haste appears to be to cash in on Federal infrastructure grants which have time limits for completion, which does mean some fast-tracking is necessary.
So why not simply mandate compliance with planning guidelines (including adequate components of affordable housing, etc)? Why should non-compliant proposals be fast-tracked without any community or council input, possibly creating the slums of the future ??
The State Government has already moved to take away resident's rights to object or appeal against such projects. Their proposal for new residential zones will effectively change low-scale suburban areas near activity centres into blocks of three or four or more storeys of apartment complexes. Premier Brumby plans to appoint unelected, unaccountable Development Assessment Committees to take over planning from councils in Activity Centres to give the green light to apartment towers in these centres.
Some of these changes are before Parliament – make sure your local member knows your views NOW! Victoria's Planning Act review could formalize these government plans, including property acquisition.
Here's what the normally conservative Municipal Association of Victoria said about all this in their recent press release:
20/5/09 MAV MEDIA RELEASE
Councils condemn Minister: Victoria the call-in capital
The Municipal Association of Victoria has condemned the State Government's decision to remove planning permit requirements for social housing and school building projects funded by the Rudd Government.
Cr Bill McArthur, MAV President said fast-tracking of infrastructure to stimulate the economy was supported but not at the expense of fair, transparent and inclusive planning processes. "More affordable housing options are important, but with 5,000 development sites expected across Victoria in the next 18 months, the community has every right to provide input.
"This Government has a clear emphasis on jobs and stimulus but is completely disregarding good planning and design outcomes, neighbourhood character, local amenity and the wishes of surrounding communities.
"The MAV does not support the Minister removing community input for Federally- funded housing and school infrastructure projects simply to speed up one part of the development process.
"The State has revealed its contempt for democratic input as a key element of Victoria's planning system. There will be no checks and balances such as public review, notification or third party appeal rights.
"As stressed by the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) to the Prime Minister and state leaders at the February Council of Australian Governments meeting, timely approvals for planning and council involvement in the assessment process are not mutually exclusive.
"In April, the Premier's office advised the ALGA that it would consult with local government on the mechanism to expedite planning processes for school and social housing projects prior to making a decision.
"The agreement with the ALGA has clearly been breached. There has been no discussion with the sector.
"Councils' central role in planning decisions is to balance the views of all interested parties – experts, applicants, objectors and the broader community.
"This is a key step that adds value and delivers decisions that meet state and local policy objectives, yet the Minister has granted himself sole decision-making powers.
"The Minister cannot single-handedly do the work of 79 councils. Corners will be cut and good planning outcomes compromised in order to secure jobs and meet unrealistic Commonwealth timelines.
"Developments last several generations and can't be undone when the economic crisis is over.
"Councils and communities across Victoria have every right to be extremely worried about the erosion of important democratic input rights. It is beyond disappointing," he concluded.
Contact the MAV President, Cr Bill McArthur on 0437 984 793 or MAV Communications (03) 9667 5521. Issued: 20/5/2009 Municipal Association of Victoria Level 12, 60 Collins Street Tel: 9667 5555 Fax: 9667 5550 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org