The Impact of Local Planning Policy on Your Project

The Impact of Local Planning Policy on Your Project

Every local council in Victoria has local planning policy – and some have more than others! It is important to understand the local policies that apply to your project to make sure that your project won’t become derailed.

Generally policies are formed for the most popular types of developments or in response to significant issues (I guess they could be viewed as a sort of FAQ to planning). For example a council with a significant amount of industrial land will probably have an industrial policy.

Common Local Policies

Some common local policies in many metropolitan councils are a housing policy and a neighbourhood character policy or residential development policy. These policies are designed to guide and control residential development, both in location and form. Local policies can be more subjective than prescriptive. This can make it hard to know exactly what will be supported, so getting advice early from a town planner (Council or private) can be worthwhile.

Once a policy is part of the planning scheme it will generally not be successful to make an application for a planning permit that is the contrary of the policy. For example proposing a high level of development within an area designated for minimal change or vice versa. Therefore, it is important to understand the implications of policy on your project early on.

What To Do

As a Town Planner I will help to provide written justification for a proposal, particularly if there are discretionary policy items. However, involving a town planner does not automatically mean something will be approved. Often the most valuable advice I can give is to say that something won’t be successful, so that modifications can be made early on to mitigate your risk. You can read more about working with town planners here.

I have seen many refusals for both overdevelopments (too many units for the site) and underdevelopments (to few units for the site) and in many of these decisions it has come down to a decision that the proposal is not in line with the neighbourhood character or other local council policies, even if they have met the basic requirements of Clause 55 (State Government guidelines). More and more there have also been decisions handed down at VCAT that have echoed these Council decisions.

So what is my message? Ignore local policy at the possible peril of your project! Rightly or wrongly the council policy has a significant part to play in many planning decisions. To improve the chances of success for your project you should know, understand and align your project with the policies.

Need help understanding the local policies in your area? Email us today and we can help guide you through it.