As the new State Government settles in it will be interesting to see whether any significant changes are made to the planning system and what infrastructure projects will commence or be announced.
While it is still early days, there are a number of unanswered questions and we are eager to see how many of the pre-election promises will be implemented. There are also questions in relation to how the Labor Government will address changes that were introduced by the former Government. We discuss a few of these issues and questions below.
1 What will happen to the Metropolitan Planning Authority (MPA) and Places Victoria? Will these authorities be merged or will responsibilities shift?
We understand from recent announcements that a Victorian Planning Authority will be established. The precise details of this authority are unknown at this stage however, it appears that amongst other things it will work with the Victorian Government Architect and Melbourne City Council in assessing planning permit applications above 25,000 square metres. There have been reports that this authority will be given responsibilities in regional areas and will work to promote development and jobs growth.
Will it streamline the planning process or add another level of bureaucracy?
2 Given that the Labor Government has promised to dump the East-West Link project and reintroduce the Metro rail project, will a new metropolitan planning strategy be developed or will Plan Melbourne continue to guide the growth of our City?
3 How will Infrastructure Victoria and Projects Victoria operate?
Labor announced during its pre-election campaign that it would establish two authorities to manage significant infrastructure projects across the State. Infrastructure Victoria will provide independent advice, evaluating and prioritising infrastructure projects that are of State and national significance.
Projects Victoria will be responsible for the delivery of the infrastructure projects that have been prioritised by Infrastructure Victoria. It will be required to publicly report on the performance of each project that it manages.
It is unclear whether these two new authorities will replace Major Projects Victoria.
4 Will the Labor Government implement the Standard Levies for development contributions?
A reform to the development contributions system was undertaken by the previous Government and resulted in the creation of Standard Levies for priority growth locations which were to be introduced on 1 July 2015.
5 Will we see further changes to the residential zones?
Before last year’s election, the Labor Party promised an independent review of the residential zone reforms. How this review will take place and what will happen to councils that have completed the implementation process and those that are going through Stage 2 of the Residential Zones Standing Advisory Committee is unknown.
6 Will we see a major change in the decisions issued by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) if it is required to take into account the weight of community opposition to planning proposals?
Labor has promised to amend the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998 so that VCAT considers the number of objections to a planning application when determining an appeal.
7 Will the State Government introduce minimum apartment standards?
When in opposition, Labor was highly critical of the lack of standards for apartment towers and the extensive number of towers approved by former Planning Minister, Matthew Guy. We will be interested to see what the new Government does to address the issue but Collie for one supports the principle of minimal standards, provided of course they are reasonable.
The coll-e-bulletin will keep you posted on these and other issues as they emerge throughout the year.