Archive:  Smart Planning

Last Updated  9/7/17




NEW  Action Required  State Government's "Smart Planning":  First It Was The Horror Expansion of VicSmart, And Now It's The Shrinking Of The Victoria Planning Provisions.  A Survey, Such As It Is, closes 10 July

(9/7/17 - P)  So far it has been an exercise in removing residents' rights and "simplifying" development into lower standards, accountability and transparency.  This isn't on anywhere in Victoria, and we can't see how this "protects" Macedon Ranges at all  


There's a survey about “Smart Planning”, which is what the State government calls the dramatic changes it is making/proposing to all aspects of planning in Victoria.  Sorry for the short notice, but even if you don't get around to the survey, this is something YOU need to know about. 


First, in March 2017, it was expanding “VicSmart”, so that it allows a Council's CEO (including Macedon Ranges’ CEO) to approve planning applications up to $1 million in value, within 10 business days, without having to involve councillors or consult community, or give notice to affected residents, or comply with State and local planning policies (including the Localised Planning Statement proposed to protect Macedon Ranges).   The State government did not consult the community about these changes, only some targeted councils and industry groups.  Here's MRRA's VicSmart overview, which was circulated to all Macedon Ranges councillors.  It confirms VicSmart is completely out of alignment with transparency, accountability, and democratic government - and protecting Macedon Ranges Shire.   There's no point having a Localised Planning Statement if it's prohibited from being used in decision-making.  Major changes are also made to rural zones, which has strong ramifications for sensitive and Green Wedge areas alike.


Now the government is changing the "Victoria Planning Provisions (VPP)".  These are the provisions, zones and overlays that make up a planning scheme.  So far mostly “industry” people have had a say, which has resulted in a focus on “streamlining” permit requirements or removing them.  Which suggests these changes aren’t being proposed to improve the VPPs and planning practices and outcomes per se, but to improve them for development interests.


Please have a look at the survey.  Most of the questions are about whether existing controls and provisions should be unwound and relaxed. This isn’t about getting better planning controls, it’s about reducing existing standards (which aren’t that high anyway).


The survey should only take a few minutes.  Really important to let the government know Victoria consists of more than planners and developers – community counts too.  The survey closes at close of business Monday, 10 July.  


MRRA Says:


Definitely not happy, Jan. 


Overall this is about squeezing more people in, faster, and removing the obstruction of people who might object.  What doesn't seem to be understood is most in the community think planning in Victoria isn't strong enough now to provide the certainty and outcomes the community wants.  All of these changes seem aimed at going in the opposite direction. 


The questions for Macedon Ranges’ residents are, how does VicSmart, and removing permit requirements and making changes to fast-track development, fit with protecting Macedon Ranges?    How does it allow residents to have a say on what happens next door, or to places and things they value?  Remember, if a permit isn’t required, it saves applicants time and money but you aren’t notified and you can’t object.


In addition, as with most planning changes a (any) State government makes, the changes will inevitably relate to what’s happening or what’s wanted in Melbourne, with little thought given to how changes will - or won’t - work outside Melbourne, in places like Macedon Ranges.


We raised our very strong concerns with VicSmart with local MP Mary-Anne Thomas some time ago.  You might want to ask how all this is in alignment with protecting Macedon Ranges.