By David Gill*
NEW planning provisions have been introduced state wide by the Planning Minister, Richard Wynne, without meaningful consultation.
This may lead to further degrading of town and rural character on the Mornington Peninsula.
The changes seek to avoid excessive site coverage of buildings and sealed surfaces but there is a stinging trade-off that allows new height “limits” of 11 metres in a general residential zone (GRZ). This could mean three-storey houses.
The GRZ applies to all of our residential areas including coastal villages.
Our planning scheme protective overlays may still apply, limiting houses to two storeys, but in areas like Rosebud, Hastings and Mornington local character is not protected by overlays and three storeys could become the norm.
Mr Wynne has also broadened state-wide planning provisions for permit applications called Vicsmart that deny rights of appeal and locally elected councillors the right to intervene on ratepayers’ behalf.
The first you will know about a Vicsmart development, even next door, will be when work starts. There will not even be the normal permit pending yellow sign on the subject property.
Vicsmart was meant to allow for quick, 10-day processing of minor permit applications like front fences, carports and small sheds but now will apply to much larger and costly proposals, this includes a range of developments in our precious agricultural and rural areas.
In our green wedge zones this means up to $250,000, $500,000 in commercial areas and $1 million in industrial areas.
Council officers make all Vicsmart planning decisions. Councillors, your elected representatives, have no say on these permit applications.
We often complain about the fairness of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) that hears planning appeals but now an increasing number of planning matters will be beyond any appeal at all.
*David Gill is the councillor for Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Red Hill ward.