In July, 2012, the Minister of the Department of Planning and Community Development announced a reform of the Victorian planning zones and has posted the details of the DPCD website.  Interested parties (eg Councils, industry groups, community groups and individuals) were requested to review the proposed zones and make submissions by 21st September, 2012.  Late submissions may be lodged up to 5.00 p.m. Friday 28th September, 2012.

The reform proposals have been criticised in the media coverage (The Age – Planning Reform Blocks AppealsThe Age – The Planning Guy) and by many councils, residents groups and prominent citizens.  Many Councils have held extensive community consultations to

  • Inform residents of the proposed changes and their impact
  • To ensure that the Council’s submission to the DPCD accurately reflects the community’s opinions and interests
  • Encourage residents to forward individual submissions if they wished to

Unlike many other Councils, Glen Eira adopted an alternate approach to advising residents of the proposed zoning changes.  The Council Meeting Minutes of 4th September, 2012 – Section 9.6, includes a report prepared by Jeff Akehurst, Director City Development which outlines the proposed changes and provides some comments and discussion on the some of the “possible unintended consequences”.  The Council resolution at this meeting includes the following

  • “Section 5 of this report which includes comments as well as possible unintended consequences will form the basis of Council’s submission to the Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD)”.
  • “that Council publish this submission as a discussion paper on Council’s website including providing and promoting a link to the DPCD contact details for the lodgement of submissions by residents. …. That this be on the alerts and be sent out as an alert as part of our electronic consultation trail”.  The link to the submission  (Glen Eira Submission Outline) is on the website and the alert was sent out on the 7th September, 2012.

GERA has reviewed the proposed reform of planning zones. In general GERA supports the long overdue review of the zones, however, this support is not unqualified as GERA believes the current proposed residential zones (scheduled to be implemented in 12 months) and commercial zones (scheduled for implementation October, 2012) will have far reaching adverse impacts on the residents of Glen Eira.

Full details of GERA’s concerns are provided in the GERA submission to the DPCD (GERA Submission) and the following is a brief summary of some of our concern’s

  • fewer rights of appeal
    • Grounds of appeal restricted by reclassification of previously not permitted or permit required land uses as right of use.  (Places of Worship and Medical Centres in Residential Zones and being declared exempt from the planning controls applicable to the residential zone).
    • Commercial/retail uses permitted in Residential Zones if the Residential Zone abuts an activity centre (within 100m).  No limit on hours of operation and declared exempt from the planning controls applicable to the residential zone.
    • Third party notice, objection and review rights can be exempted by Council in the Mixed Use Zone

While some of our more cynical members have suggested that loss of appeal rights would relieve them of the frustration experienced when their objections are ignored, GERA would argue that every resident has a right to express and have their opinions listened to.  This right should not be able to be restricted because of a zone change.

  • Reduction on lot sizes in zones will result in boundary to boundary double storey dwellings being built and have a negative impact on the character of the area (visual bulk, absence of landscaping) and residential amenity (overshadowing, overlooking).
  • Encourages high density housing in centres without taking into consideration the future demands on aging and currently inadequate infrastructure (roads, public transport, sewers, utilities, police, hospitals and schools) of these centres.
  • The current review relates to the zone proposals and the allowed uses within the zones only.  The implementation process (i.e. how to) has yet to be defined and many details regarding overlays (Heritage, Neighbourhood Character) are yet to be defined.  This restricts meaningful analysis of the new zones.
  • The lack of information on the implementation of the zones also extends to the community participation/involvement in the implementation process.  Height controls vary across the new zones (there are no height controls in the new Commercial Zone 1) and also vary in being mandatory or at the discretion of the local authority (Council).  Therefore, the inclusion of extensive community participation (which zones were, defining the schedules/requirements) is imperative.

GERA encourages residents to review both the Akehurst and GERA submissions, and if considered appropriate, make a submission to the DPCD.

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