The purpose of this listing of proposed planning scheme amendments is to alert your environment group to any proposed land use changes in your municipal planning scheme or other area that may be of concern to your organisation. This listing also assists in pointing your organisation to the appropriate sources of information and, most importantly, relevant submission timelines.
The following information on how proposed planning amendments are handled in Victoria may be second nature to some members of environment or conservation groups. But many people have only a rudimentary understanding of the planning system and are often either unaware of the opportunities afforded for community participation or intimidated by its seeming complexity. This listing aims to overcome these difficulties.
Municipal planning schemes are the key instrument for governing land use and development in Victoria. Every municipality is responsible for an individual planning scheme covering its local government area. Any proposed future changes to the individual planning schemes must be the subject of a planning scheme amendment process. This process is standard across all municipalities and incorporates provision for public participation. Such amendments will often propose major changes in land use such as from rural to urban land use. Others may be more about proposed changes to the future nature of development allowed, such as height of buildings or density of sub division.
All proposed planning scheme amendments must first obtain ministerial authorisation for preparation and will involve documentation, the extent of which expands with the scale and potential impact of the propose changes. Proposals may ultimately require to be accompanied by an Environment Effects Statement.
All this documentation is required to put on public exhibition by the appropriate planning authority that is most commonly the municipal council where the proposal is located.
So initially the essential thing to do is find out when the proposed amendment is going on public exhibition and the closing dates for submissions. The minimum period for exhibition and receipt of submissions by the respective planning authority is usually one month. This relatively short period means that community organisations need to be alert to any proposed changes and review their potential environmental impact and, if decided, respond by the due deadline for submissions.
There is a second opportunity for public participation if the planning authority (e.g. municipal council) decides on receipt of the public submissions that a planning panel be requested. The role of a planning panel would be to provide an independent assessment of the proposed amendment.
These panels are organised through Planning Panels Victoria, and the planning panels provide for public participation through consideration of submissions and opportunity to be heard at the panel hearings.
The first step in the panel process is a Directions Hearing and people wishing to make a submission to the Panel Hearing should attend this Directions Hearing to make this formally known and subsequently complete a ‘Request to be Heard’ form. People making submissions are not subject to cross examination at the panel hearing but questions of clarification can be directed through the panel chair.
Expert witnesses can be called by community organisations (e.g. a person with good knowledge of an issue) to present at the panel hearing and these people can be subject to cross examination.
The planning panels offer a very real opportunity for the issues of concern to be heard and thoroughly considered by the panel members.
The planning panel ultimately prepares a report for a planning authority that contains recommendations to accept, modify or reject the proposed amendment. These recommendations (in contrast to VCAT) are not binding and after consideration by the planning authority are forwarded for a final determination to the Minister for Planning.
Comprehensive information on the planning panel process is available at the Planning Panels Victoria website at http://www.dtpli.vic.gov.au/planning/panels-and-committees/planning-panels-victoria
Those proposed amendments identified are those still all active at the date of listing. The ‘Status’ will show the stage to which the proposed amendment has progressed as follows:
Then a decision is made by the respective planning authority as to whether a planning panel is requested.
If a planning panel is requested then the Status will indicate:
Then whether or not there is a planning panel the next steps will be:
If approved by the Department (formally the Minister for Planning) then the amendment will be considered finished and deleted from the listing.
The source of the status information for this listing comes from http://www.dtpli.vic.gov.au/planning/planning-schemes/changing-the-planning-scheme/planning-scheme-amendments-online
Additional status information may come from the respective planning authority (usually a Council) and the Planning Panel website.
For ease of identifying the councils of immediate relevance to particular environmental groups, the councils are listed by geographic regions. These regions are:
This listing of proposed planning scheme amendments by region will be updated on a monthly basis.
If you find an amendment that may be of interest and you want to investigate further go to the Planning Scheme Amendments Information at: http://dsewebapps.dse.vic.gov.au/shared/ats.nsf/webviewdisplay?openform
DH = Directions Hearing
PH = Panel Hearing
PP = Planning Panel
PPV = Planning Panels Victoria
PLP = Planning application
Department = Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
VCAT = Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal
Please provide any feedback to Environment Victoria on the clarity of this listing and suggestions for improvement. Also further discussion on better understanding or how to use the information is available to groups. If your organisation doesn’t have a Group Membership, or needs to renew it, you can do so here.
This is the first listing and with your help the format will evolve over time to improve the user friendliness of the information.
Those already familiar with the planning system will know both the frustrations and opportunities available. But it is important to remind ourselves constantly that it is the planning process by which all future land use and development decisions are made for Victoria, and the opportunity exists to identify how it can work better for the protection and enhancement of our environment.