09 Oct 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. A common local policy in many metropolitan councils is either a medium density development policy or a neighbourhood character policy that seeks to control residential development.
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 opposite of the policy, for example to propose 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.
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.