As some of our readers might be aware, developing multiple dwellings in Mornington Peninsula Shire is currently a more complex process than for most of Melbourne.
As it is coming up to two years since the landscape changed for unit development approvals on the Peninsula I thought I would provide an overview of what has happened.
Following the adoption of the Mornington Peninsula Housing and Settlement Strategy in 2017 the Council prepared and submitted a Planning Scheme Amendment (C219) to implement this strategy. This amendment was submitted to the Minister for Planning in early 2018 and the Shire is still waiting for authorisation from the Minister so that the amendment can proceed to public exhibition. The authorisation is just the beginning stage of the amendment process, and is no guarantee that the amendment will be approved after the exhibition and panel process that will be required.
While the Shire was waiting to progress their Amendment they made an internal resolution to support only applications that satisfy their housing strategy.
The internal Shire resolution to support applications that adhere to their housing strategy has resulted in a lot of multiple dwelling applications being refused. One of the main reasons for this is because of a significant policies of the housing strategy that requires a minimum lot size of 900sqm for a two dwelling development in most urban areas. Many of the applications going up to the Shire do not fit in within this density limit, and therefore are refused by the Council.
This wholesale refusal of applications has resulted in a influx of applications to Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). The 2018-2019 Annual Report by VCAT has reported that overall the number of cases for Mornington Peninsula Shire has increased 66% to a total of 242 for that financial year, which is the highest number of applications for that year from any Council. Furthermore the suburbs of Capel Sound, Dromana, Mornington and Rosebud were all listed within the top 20 suburbs for applications and saw an increase in applications of between 150% and 500%. This is by far the greatest increases and in applications for any Council or any suburb.
As the Amendment (C219) for Mornington Peninsula Shire has not been authorised yet it is not given significant consideration by the Tribunal in any applications that go up before them. This means that if there are no other significant grounds of refusal the application is approved at VCAT. This is referred to as VCAT setting aside Council’s decision. Statistics from the State Government (Planning Permit Activity Report) show that the majority of decisions from Mornington Shire over 2018-2019 were set aside at VCAT (56%), with a significantly higher percentage of decisions being set aside than the state average of 39%.
So, many of these applications that are going to VCAT are being overturned and approved. This has led to extra time, cost and uncertainty for both applicants and neighbours. A situation that doesn’t appear to have an end in sight yet.
No updated information on the progress of this amendment has been released at this time. This Amendment has been “on hold” for an unusually long length of time. There is still no update on when or if this amendment will be authorised. Hopefully this situation will be progressed early this year to either move the Amendment forward or to abandon it so that there is greater certainty for all Shire residents.
For now, the majority of owners looking to do unit developments in the Peninsula will need to factor in the extra time and money involved with having to appeal the application at VCAT. This may well continue to be the case until either the State Government or the Shire’s constituents force a change in policy of the Council.
If you are looking to do a development and want to discuss the implications of this please get in touch to discuss!