Planning right

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 24-Nov-2017

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By Margaret O’Rourke
City of Greater Bendigo Mayor

Did you know that very few planning applications submitted to the City of Greater Bendigo receive objections or need approval at a formal council meeting?

The perception in the community is that staff are overwhelmed by objections, but it’s only the challenging applications that end up on the council meeting agenda and receive the subsequent media attention. 

Councillors take seriously their responsibility of planning for the future, but we don’t want to shy away from making hard decisions and at last week’s council meeting we made three of our biggest yet. 

We adopted Planning Scheme Amendments to implement the Bendigo Urban Flood Study and the White Hills and East Bendigo Heritage Study, and develop land in Lansell Crest, East Bendigo. 

The flood study, which was undertaken in 2013, is one of the largest and most comprehensive urban flood studies done in Victoria. 

It will be a living document that is updated with new information after rain events. 

The heritage study recognises our commitment to preserving our valued heritage assets and delivers on goals outlined in the Community Plan.

Lansell Crest was identified as a key development site in the Planning Scheme as part of the Greater Bendigo Residential Strategy 2014. 

It’s the first of 16 sites that were identified to receive council approval for development, and it went through a number of rigorous and independent stages in the planning process prior to councillors making their final decision.

Unless you have a planning application before council, are affected by one or have an interest in one, you might not realise the Statutory Planning unit is one of the busiest units at the City of Greater Bendigo.

In the past financial year, 1185 planning applications were received and 1117 planning permits were issued to a value of $311.2 million.  

A permit is likely to be required if you want to change the use of your land (eg: from a retail shop to an office), display signage, remove native vegetation, extend a dwelling in an area with a heritage overlay, construct a dwelling in a bushfire management overlay area, obtain a liquor licence or subdivide land. 

Following a recommendation of the Independent Review Committee, in 2014 council streamlined its planning approval process and began approving planning permit applications under delegation when the application received three or less objections. 

It’s a system that has proven to be very effective, as only 1.34 per cent of planning decisions were made by council in the 2016/2017 financial year. This is a great outcome for our customers to streamline the process for them. 

It’s also worth noting that of the 1117 planning permits issued, only 10 or 0.7 per cent were taken to VCAT. 

At times, members of the public can be critical of council’s planning decisions and we understand this, but these figures indicate that, overall, the wheels of progress are being steered in the right direction. 

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