Archive:  State Residential Zones

Last Updated  21/2/09

 

 

State Govt Backs Down On Taking Residents' Rights Away In New State Residential Zones

(21/2/09 - P)  Good.  But the government now plans to force VCAT to "fast-track" development so are we any better off?  Submissions on the latest version of the residential zones close on 6 April.  APOLOGIES - Submissions close 9 April

 

It's a wild world in planning at the moment as more and more of the system is changed to facilitate development. 

 

Bouquets to the government for backing off removing residents rights to know about and object to planning applications in the new Residential zones, and removing mandatory building heights.  Mega bouquets to all those community people and the Victorian Upper House for standing firm in opposition to these horrid elements of the new Residential zones.  See MRRA's earlier story.

 

Now comes the brickbats for the State government, which has also announced it will 'work in partnership with VCAT to fast-track development' which is likely pollie-speak for 'VCAT will do as it is told'.  In a nutshell, it seems the government is attempting to remove what it sees as impediments to rushing development proposals through approval processes, so we suspect it will be 'calling in' a lot more applications to circumvent the existing VCAT system (which in itself ain't all that good) and hey presto, the government will make the decisions itself.  Easy-peasey.  The developers will be pleased.  So if you thought planning decisions were already lotteries...

 

We couldn't find a government press release about VCAT on the changed Parliament media releases site, but you can click here for the Liberal-National opposition's response.

 

Click here to see the Planning Minister Justin Madden's press release on the new Residential zones, and here to see Shadow Minister for Planning Matthew Guy's response.

 

As for the new residential zones, they will be on exhibition until Thursday 9 April 2009.  All submissions will be referred to an independent Advisory Committee, who will provide the Planning Minister with advice on the final form of the new residential zones.

 

More information about the draft new residential zones is available online at www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/planning/residentialzones

 

For further information call 1300 366 356 (local call cost) or TTY 03 9603 8806 (8.30am - 5.00pm Monday to Friday).

 

MRRA Says:

 

It is in everyone's best interests to check out these 'revised' zones, and put in a submission.  MRRA made a submission on the original draft, and will pore over the new zones and make one again this time round. 

 

We previously looked fairly kindly on the new Limited Change zone except it, like the other original zones proposed, quashed the community's rights to be consulted about planning applications.  With that nasty gone, this zone is perhaps the answer to many of the difficulties in getting some proper and orderly and RURAL planning in Macedon Ranges.  We could possibly use it.  Gisborne, for starters, comes to mind.

 

Problem is, we hear the Department of Planning and Community Development has no intention of allowing it to be applied by Councils, other than in very exceptional and limited circumstances.  It was ever thus... beam us up!

 

Shadow Minister For Planning Hands Parliament 900 Signature Petition  New State Residential Zones

(11/9/08 - P)  Petition shows clear community opposition to residents' rights being taken away by these zones.

Here's what the petition said:

 

"The Petition of certain citizens of the State of Victoria draws to the attention of the Legislative Council proposals in the state governmentís New Residential Zones discussion paper;

 

To remove third party appeal rights for Victorian citizens in relation to development including:

 

1. The right to be notified of a development

2. The right of appeal against a development

3. The right to object to a development

 

And further, the New Residential Zones discussion paperís plans to set a minimum height of 3 and 4 storeys in two of the three new zones.

 

Your Petitioners therefore request that the Legislative Council of Victoria immediately reject any proposal to remove third party appeal rights that currently exist for all Victorians and reject any attempt to mandate minimum height levels of 3 or 4 storeys in low density areas which will significantly change town and urban character across Victoria."

 

Click here for a Hansard extract of some of the comments made when the petition was put before parliament.

 

MRRA Submission On New State Residential Zones

(22/4/08 - P)  We didn't see any point in pussy-footing around, so we laid it right on the line.

Well done to all of those who put in submissions.  A few were sent to us, and they were great.  Click here to see MRRA's submission, sent in last Friday.

 

RED ALERT   New Residential Zones Rub Out Residents' Rights - Get Submissions In By Apr 18

(7/4/08 - P)   MRRA RED ALERT TO RESIDENTS:  You might not get another chance so take this opportunity to say "NO" to losing your rights to be notified of, object to and appeal against planning applications.  And don't muck around or put it off - a new executive director position for "Planning Services and Development Facilitation" is already being set up in the Department of Planning, so get your submission in - quick!

Macedon Ranges Residents' Association this week sent a letter to news media alerting Macedon Ranges' residents to the dangers of new residential zones being proposed by the State Labor government.  There are other problems with these zones but the most critical aspect at this stage is the fact that all three will take away community rights to know, object and appeal on planning issues in residential zones.  As MRRA says in its letter, the first residents might know of planning applications is when construction starts on the block next door.

 

Submissions about these zones can be made to the State government until April 18.  Click here to see the letter MRRA sent to media this week.  Click here for information about how to make a submission and to see earlier MRRA items on this issue.

 

MRRA Says:

 

What the community is up against is policy which is being heavily influenced by government support for massive population growth, and developers and their supporters.  The rest of us seem to be regarded as just nuisances who get in the way because we object to having our streets, neighbourhoods and towns raped by development that doesn't belong there, and which wipes out things the rest of us value.  With these zones, that's set to happen more, and faster.

 

Representatives of MRRA and other community groups have attended so-called 'information sessions' recently run by the Department of Planning and Community Development [DPCD].  Feedback we've received suggests there wasn't actually much information to be had, with many responses to community questions going something like "too early to tell".  Community groups certainly weren't impressed, and the overall reaction from all comers at the meetings has been summed up as, (at best) 'lukewarm'.

 

For all that, the Municipal Association of Victoria [MAV] (which has had a key role in developing the zones) seems to be selling the message that these zones are pretty good.  Here's part of what Mr. Rob Spence, CEO, Municipal Association of Victoria [MAV], said in a recent letter to all councillors in Victoria:

 

"MAV representatives have been attending the general information sessions being run by the Department of Planning and Community Development to explain their involvement and perspective, to provide support, and to hear the questions and issues raised. Generally, the new zones and objectives are being well received. " [MRRA emphasis]  

 

By whom?

 

It doesn't stop there either.  The latest organizational chart (released last week) for the Department of Planning [DPCD] shows a new top-level position, yet to be filled, titled "Executive Director, Planning Services and Development Facilitation".  [MRRA emphasis] 

 

These new residential zones are part of that 'development facilitation'.  And we suspect that it's the same type of 'development facilitation' we saw with the Gisborne Call Centre:  developers 1, community 0, environment 0.

 

And now we have a media release issued by the Minister for Planning last Friday (4 April) "Madden Busts Myths on Proposed Residential Zones" where the Minister claims the new zones "would not remove residentsí rights of appeal" and "are not about removing rights" but "are about providing certainty about what levels of development are permitted in certain areas.".  

 

Yeah, right.  Hmm... MRRA can still remember former Planning Minister Hulls issuing a media release stating that Macedon Ranges is protected by Green Wedges.  Er, wrong!

 

With great respect to the present Minister, here's what the Department of Planning and Community Development's own discussion paper (available from www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/planning) says: "Exempt from notice and review at VCAT if the development meets specified ResCode standards."   Sounds fairly clear to us...  or does the Minister's media release perhaps mean this element of the new zones will be reconsidered?  Um... There wouldn't be an outside chance the media release was a belated April Fool's joke, would there? 

 

Residents - YOU - are the ones with everything to lose.  Don't leave it to someone else. Put in a submission.  Do it today!   It need only be a single sentence.  Just make sure you have your say (while you can) because sure as eggs, the developers and others whose interests these zones serve will be having theirs.

 

Draft Residential Zones - Change To Information Sessions

(11/3/08 - P)  You must get involved in this - the State government is trying to take away your rights to know what happens where you live.  If you can, go along to these sessions and make sure you tell them you don't want these totalitarian zones...

Residents are asked to take careful note of dates and locations for information sessions being run about the State government's new residential zones.  Two significant changes have been made:  An additional session has been added, in Melbourne, on March 31; and details for the session in Geelong have now been provided.  Click here for updated details. 

 

The most accessible information sessions for Macedon Ranges' residents are as follows:

 

Melbourne - Metro
Tuesday 11 March
2.00-4.00pm and 6.00-8.00pm
Theatrette
1 Spring Street
Melbourne

 

Bendigo - Regional
Wednesday 19 March
2.00-4.00pm
The Capital - Bendigo's Performing Arts Centre
50 View Street
Bendigo

 

Melbourne - Metro

Monday 31 March
6.00-8.00pm
Theatrette
1 Spring Street
Melbourne

 

 

New Draft Residential Zones Available And Out For Comment Until April 18

(3/3/08 - P)  There is no 'kind' response to these undemocratic, developer-driven, disempowering zones...

The new draft zones are now available for comment, submissions to be in by 18 April.  You can obtain a copy of the zones and a response template and information about 'consultation' sessions by going to http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/DSE/nrenpl.nsf/LinkView/255912AF635DA45ECA2573B00004FCA00550887B8572D81ACA2572CE00101720

 

Click here to see information session dates and locations.

 

MRRA Says:

 

Phew!  What a potential disaster these zones are!  For all that Meatloaf thought 2 out of 3 ain't bad, the State government doesn't even come close and only scores 0.5 out of 3 for this lot.  My oh my, who could possibly guess that the community didn't have any say in coming up with these...  All three zones employ the Abu Ghraib model of natural justice and accountability.

 

The Go-GO-GO-GO (aka zoom, zoom - eat my dust) Substantial Change zone - well, the question is, is it a zone, or a developers' licence to do whatever they want - print money, perhaps?  It comes across as the answer to a speculator's prayer and is also probably intended to shut pesky objectors up by forcing New York/Melbourne 2030-style skyscrapers wherever this zone touches down, which is likely to be in every "activity centre".   Let's see, residents don't have any rights to know what goes on if someone else decides applications comply with ResCode; can't have a building UNDER 4 storeys; lots of non-residential uses; and this zone is deliberately intended to change neighbourhood character.  Give the government a medal for Going Totally Over The Top with this one.  More 'open slather' than 'substantial', it plainly missed the 'spin' cycle and isn't even subtle.  It can't possibly be considered PLANNING, it's just unadulterated, unfettered, as-much-as-you-can-eat development - the Mack truck version of sensitive urban design.  God help anyone who ends up living in this zone - life will be purgatory, it's total disempowerment.  Move now.....

 

The euphemistically named "Go Slow" or Incremental Change zone is basically the replacement for existing residential zones.  It seems to be a shot-gun marriage of Residential 1 with the worst bits of Residential 2 and 3 thrown in - bits like extinguishing residents' rights to be consulted if someone else thinks proposals comply with ResCode, although it's never stated who that someone is.  Even if we accept that ResCode itself is an acceptable standard, objectors will be aware that applications that DON'T comply with ResCode get approved...  It gets worse - in this zone, as in the Go-Go-Go-Go zone, applications will be facilitated and fast-tracked, and there will no longer be an ability to require planning permits for houses on lots under 500 square metres - nup, that slides back to the old standard of 300 square metres.  This zone is intended to be applied to "most of Victoria's towns and suburbs where modest residential development can occur" - which at a minimum means rural towns can kiss 'rural' goodbye, and say 'hello suburb'.  Don't know what the people who came up with this as the 'staple' residential zone for Victoria were on, but it obviously seems to interfere with rational thought and the concepts of proper and orderly planning, not to mention natural justice.  Everyone in Victoria - except those poor souls incarcerated in the Go-Go-Go-Go zone - will be worse off with this zone than they are with Residential 1 today.  Well, that's not quite right - developers will love it.

 

Then there's the vixenish "No-Go" LIMITED Change zone.  Odd, isn't it - up until a few years ago a zone like this would have almost been considered NORMAL (except it doesn't dispense natural justice as normal zones once did).  At first glance it would be easy to say this is the zone you want.  To say stage sit-ins, chain yourself to fences, go on a hunger strike, sell the kids, do anything to get this zone.  It's the only one that allows subdivision sizes and the minimum number of dwellings on a lot to be specified.  Sounds too good to be true?  It is.  This zone too extinguishes residents' rights to be notified of a proposal if someone else says it complies with ResCode, and like the other two zones, even if an application doesn't comply, the best you will get is notice given to adjoining and opposite properties - too bad if you live anywhere else when someone's proposing 3 storey units in your street.  'Slather' rather than 'open slather'.  Damn!  What a heartbreaker - for a moment, there was hope of dinky-di planning but this zone has been through the spin cycle twice and turns out to be just another illusion.  The only thing this zone truly limits is residents' rights.

 

Frankly, you wouldn't give two bob for any of these zones, not even the Limited zone, not when it comes with the sting of no consultation.  Unbelievably, these zones actually make the existing Residential 1 zone look good, and that's saying something!  The question is, now that the developers have their zones, when does the community get its?  MRRA suspects that the starting point for community would be the Limited zone with no restrictions on the community's right to know and object. But that's not what is on offer.

 

Consequently, there is an imperative for the community to say NO to these zones.  NO, NO, NO.  It's a complete disgrace that any government can think they might in any way be acceptable.  They aren't.  So, to the barricades!  Let the revolution begin!  Any person who intends to remain in Victoria must fight against the sheer inequity and injustice of these zones, and the malevolence of their intent.  Planning and outcomes are almost secondary issues here.  This is firstly about the public's basic rights and freedoms, and a government and its hangers-on that seem so far in bed with developers they have completely lost the plot on social justice and even basic planning principles.  As for accountability, it's quashed, extinguished, dead.  Who knows who will make decisions, and what will drive them?  We the people aren't even to be told a decision is to be made.  The vagaries of VCAT will become a non-issue, because not many of us will even get to VCAT - our right to do so is stripped away.  There have been some rotten examples in the past, but what these zones are intended to do should be sufficiently over-ripe to bring the people of Victoria out onto the streets.

 

Get a copy of these 'development' zones today, and make your views known.

 

Make a Submission:

 

Note:  Submissions close on 18 April. 2008

 

To download a copy of the zones' discussion paper and a response form, click on:  http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/DSE/nrenpl.nsf/LinkView/255912AF635DA45ECA2573B00004FCA00550887B8572D81ACA2572CE00101720 or www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/planning/, or call 9637 8610 for more information about making a submission. 

 

Submissions can be lodged in online, by email planning.systems@dpcd.vic.gov.au, or by post to Planning Systems, DPCD, GPO Box 2392, Melbourne, VIC, 3001.