Rework, unnecessary costs and delays within the Planning Scheme Amendment process

Overview


Red tape issue

Several red tape issues in the planning and rezoning processes, especially in regional Victoria, were raised with the Red Tape Commissioner in the seven months to June 2016. The Treasurer asked the Commissioner to consult with stakeholders in regional Victoria during July and August 2016 to identify red tape issues experienced in the Planning Scheme Amendment approval process, their causes and practical means to reduce them. The consultation provided an opportunity to obtain contemporary intelligence on red-tape issues in regional Victoria that could be addressed as part of the Government’s Smart Planning initiative to improve Victoria’s planning system.

The consultation and earlier complaints highlighted numerous instances where current processes or practise by decision makers was leading to rework, unnecessary costs and delays for business. Including the red tape issues raised before the start of the targeted consultations, stakeholders in regional Victoria identified around 20 specific matters.

These matters are summarised by:

  • council and referral authorities not adhering to statutory timelines and reasonable overall elapsed time (9 issues);
  • relevant authorities having little regard to, and appreciation of, the commercial implications of poor process, especially regarding costs, delay and rework imposed on business (4 issues);
  • PSA process often characterised by reluctant decision making and disproportionate information requirements (4 issues);
  • businesses experiencing a one size fits all process – little difference in treatment between simple and complex matters;
  • some PSA processes poorly integrating relevant State and local government policies; and
  • inconsistent treatment in some councils between planning and economic development departments.

The Red Tape Commissioner submitted his report to the Treasurer on 19 August 2016, setting out the red tape issues, their causes and practical solutions that include ‘quick wins’ and some longer term improvements. Addressing these red tape issues through the Government’s Smart Planning initiative will remove significant barriers to jobs and growth in regional Victoria.

Current status

The Planning and Environment Regulations 2015 prescribe information requirements and decision times for Planning authorities, Referral authorities and Responsible authorities in the operation of planning schemes.

Ministerial Direction 15 - The Planning Scheme Amendment Process, also sets times for completing steps in the planning scheme amendment process. The Direction applies to the Minister for Planning, the Secretary to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Panels appointed under Part 8 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (Act), and all planning authorities in Victoria.

Councils must adhere to these requirements and make planning decisions in accordance with the objectives of the Act including ‘to ensure that the effects on the environment are considered and provide for explicit consideration of social and economic effects when decisions are made about the use and development of land.’

The planning assessment and decision making process of relevant authorities in accordance with the Victorian Planning System is independent of commercial implications.

The Smart Planning Program which commenced on 1 July 2016, aims to improve the operation of the Victorian Planning System over the next two years.

It will make planning regulation simpler and more accessible for businesses, local government and the community, as well as improving confidence and trust in planning processes, and provide better and more complete access to planning information. This will significantly reduce approval times for permit applications.

The Smart Planning Program reforms will be focused on meeting the needs of users of the planning system, including the following projects:

  • streamlining the State Planning Policy Framework;
  • extending the threshold limit and classes of existing VicSmart planning permit application types;
  • improving the relationship between Zones and Overlays and Particular Provisions;
  • greater use of code-based frameworks for assessing development applications as appropriate;
  • developing an online Ministerial state permit system;
  • reforming the planning scheme information management system;
  • developing interactive mapping tools; and
  • delivering an online planning portal.

The Smart Planning Program will also scope in the third - transform stage, options for facilitating different planning scheme amendment process pathways, for example based on criteria such as impacts with regards to the objectives of the Act.