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New Residential Zones advisory committee announced

The following is an edited version of an article originally published on Ratio Consultant's website.

Many of you will be familiar with the issues surrounding the implementation of the new Residential Zones in Victoria. The new zones, and in particular the proposed widespread use of the Neighbourhood Residential Zone by many Councils, significantly limits the development potential of many sites and has wider ranging planning implications in relation to housing supply, diversity and affordability for the State.

Many Victorian Councils, such as Boroondara, Bayside, Yarra and Port Phillip are proposing in the order of 70-90% of residential land be effectively locked away from medium density residential development. A substantial number of Councils are now well advanced in their proposed implementation of the zones, the majority of whom are seeking exemption from the Minister for Planning from public exhibition.

In order to assess the magnitude of amendment requests, the Minister for Planning has announced several weeks ago the establishment of a Residential Zones Standing Advisory Committee to provide advice on the suitability of the proposed implementation of the new residential zones. At the time of writing, 17 councils Victoria-wide have sought to have their proposed residential zone implementation reviewed in this manner.

Metropolitan Councils forming part of this process include Boroondara, Darebin, Kingston, Moonee Valley, Moreland, Mornington Peninsula, Nillumbik and Whittlesea. Discussions with senior DTPLI staff confirm that several Councils are likely to pull out of this process so I will endeavour to keep readers abreast of this.

The Advisory Committee process has been established to facilitate the introduction of the zones before the 1 July 2014 time frame. This is timely given that only two Councils, Glen Eira and Greater Dandenong, have had their zones approved so far.

The Committee is chaired by Con Tsotsoros with 6 deputy chairs. There are 19 experienced professionals, many of whom are planners on the Committee, including the well respected Gaye McKenzie and Alison Glynn.

Each Council will be required to carry out public notification of their proposed zoning controls for a period of 20 business days. This will be contrary to the intent of many Councils, who were originally seeking to have the zones approved without any additional public input.

This public notification process must commence no later than 20 March 2014. The notification must include a notice in The Age and Herald Sun, notices in local newspapers and notices in the Council offices and Libraries. I would expect to see a flurry of advertisements in the next 2-3 weeks.

A party that prepares a submission will be given the opportunity to be heard at a public hearing and individual submitter’s will be given 30 minutes to present to the Committee. The Committee will also consider any expert evidence, although there will be no cross examination. The hearings will commence in the week of 28 April.

The hearings will last a total period of 3 weeks, with three waves of hearings commencing on the Monday of each week. The timing for each hearing will be dependent on the number of submissions received. Some may only go for two days and others an entire week. There is no doubt that the hearings will be run in an expeditious manner, given the volume of work required to be undertaken in a very short period of time.

The hearings may be convened individually or will consider several Councils concurrently. Stayed tuned for more information on this. I have also been advised that the State Government is currently undertaking housing/population studies for each LGA in Victoria, to ensure that each municipality shares the ‘burden’ of providing housing for a growing Melbourne/Victoria.

Details on the outcomes of these studies will be known approximately one week before the commencement of the Panel Hearings.

Within 20 days of the completion of the hearing(s) the Advisory Committee is required to submit a written report to the Minister for Planning that summaries the appropriateness of the new residential zones within each municipality.

The Advisory Committee process provides an opportunity for the community to have input on the proposed application of the new residential zones. Property owners will have a chance to make submission regarding the impact of the zones on their land as well as the implications for the proper and orderly planning of the city.

I encourage people who are interested in the outcomes of built form to stay involved in the fight against #badplanning and lodge submissions as they are publically exhibited. Public submissions can be made online at the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure website at www.dtpli.vic.gov.au/residential-zones-advisory-committee. A word of warning, the terms of reference for the Committee make it clear that petitions and pro-forma letters will be treated as a single submission only.

Colleen Peterson is a director at Ratio Consultants.

Lead image credit: silince on Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

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