One of the core responsibilities of local government is planning, through assessing development applications and defining the desired characteristics of an area through planning schemes and local policies.
Local government, being the closest form of government to people and the community, is best placed to make decisions in regard to planning issues, to ensure a balance between development and amenity.
The State Government is currently proposing radical changes to Victoria’s planning system, with legislation currently before Parliament. These changes will erode the ability of local government to make planning on behalf of the local community.
Mayor Alex Makin said the proposed changes would “disenfranchise local communities”.
Particularly worrying is the State Government’s proposal to enable individuals and developers to amend local planning schemes. A planning scheme outlines the preferred character of an area and provides guidelines in terms of amenity and suitable development. Council’s submit amendments to planning schemes after extensive community discussion ensuring a range of views are reflected.
“The significant increase of the involvement of the State Government in local planning matters facilitated by these changes will undermine community and broader industry confidence in the planning system, as the decision-making system becomes potentially more political and uncertain.”
Local government, like all forms of government, has its challenges and while there may be examples of poor planning decisions, Maroondah is a responsible and responsive planning authority. Legislation should not legislate for the lowest common denominator and penalise the community’s ability to provide input.