The Burden of Information is Increasing for Planning Applications

The Burden of Information is Increasing for Planning Applications

 

 

A trend that we have noticed lately is that Councils are expecting more and more information for new planning applications, particularly multi-unit developments. Councils are becoming more stringent in both the quality and quantity of information required.

 

Information that would have only been needed after a permit was issued, or wouldn’t have been requested at all, is now required before the Council will make a decision on the application. This is something that we and many of the designers that we speak to have noticed.

Each Council varies in the information that it requires, but things such as landscaping plans, details of bin collection and location of services on site are some common examples of the sort of extra information being requested. This is likely to be a trend that continues, as Councils look to make more informed decisions.

Generally speaking it is considered the push to improve the quality of information in planning applications is worthwhile and will hopefully lead to higher quality decisions as well as reducing problems later, once the development is built. We have seen projects where insufficient thought was put into site services or landscaping until after the project was built, and by then it was too late to make any significant improvements to the site. The trend to require more information upfront will also hopefully reduce the need to amend planning permits later by reducing the instances of these later issues.

The push to improve the quality of information in planning applications will hopefully reducing problems later, once the development is built!

However, the requests for additional information should be balanced. Councils need to carefully match the information requirements to the type and intensity of development that is proposed. Councils need to acknowledge the burden of cost placed on the owner for additional information requirements and should not request information lightly, without there being any clear benefit to the final decision. Unfortunately, while further information requests can be appealed at VCAT, this is not generally done due to the cost and time delays associated with seeking an appeal at VCAT. Therefore, to some extent we are at the mercy of Council judgement.

The need for increased documentation is also going to be required if some type of pre-approval or certification process is developed in the future. This can be seen in the draft regulations for public and shared housing that the government recently released for comment (see my post on it here). They are proposing to streamline the planning process by reducing the assessment of applications where certain mandatory requirements are met.  This type of decision-making model can provide more certainty for all stakeholders and may be introduced into a greater range of planning application types in the future. What it will require, however, is more robust and thorough information at the preliminary stage of the application.

If you are unsure of what information may be required for your project, or want to discuss a further information request that you have received please contact us on 8595 4337 and we will provide you with some inital advice.