Friday, 19 June 2015

UPDATED: Have you read the forecast? Changes ahead in the Land, Planning and Environment scene

UPDATE: Since this blog was first published on 19 June 2015, the Planning and Environment Amendment (Recognising Objectors) Act 2015 was given royal assent on 11 August 2015.
At this stage the Act has not come into operation. Unless it is proclaimed by 14 April 2016 it will become operative on that date.  The bill and the Act as assented to are in identical terms.
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There are changes afoot in the Land, Planning and Environment scene, including amendments to both the Act and the Regulations and a new levy for metropolitan developments valued over $1 million.

CHANGES TO THE PLANNING AND ENVIRONMENT ACT 1987


A new bill has been introduced into Parliament that will permit VCAT and responsible authorities to consider the number of objectors to a permit application when deciding whether a proposed use or development may have a significant social effect.

Decision-makers must already consider whether a use or development may have a significant social effect, however the number of objectors to a permit application was previously not specifically identified as a relevant consideration.  The proposed amendments clarify that the two key decision-makers in the planning permit process, the responsible authority or VCAT on review, may take the number of objectors into consideration before a decision is made, if the circumstances require.

The Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, stated that the new requirement 'is likely to be particularly relevant in circumstances where a proposal may reduce access to or enjoyment of community facilities or services or adversely affect public health and safety.'  He stated that the number of objectors and the consistency of their views may demonstrate a section of the scale of a social effect on the community.

As is the case now, an objector will need to put their concerns in writing and state how they would be affected by the grant of a permit.

The Minister  also clarified that "social effects" may include matters such as the demand for use of community facilities and services, access to social and community facilities, choice in housing, shopping and recreational leisure services, community safety and amenity and the needs of particular groups in the community.

METROPOLITAN PLANNING LEVY


A new levy on planning permit applications for projects valued at over $1 million within Melbourne metropolitan areas takes effect from 1 July 2015.  Relevantly no exemptions apply for State Government Agencies.

The levy will be payable to a relevant responsible authority or planning authority and will be administered by the State Revenue Office (SRO).  Applicants must first apply for a Metropolitan Planning Levy (MPL) Certificate from the SRO and pay the MPL before making a planning permit application.  The rate for the MPL has been set in essence, at $1.30 per $1000 for affected projects.

The levy is payable where the estimated cost of  the development exceeds the threshold amount, which is currently $1 million for the 2015-2016 financial year.  Moving forward, this threshold amount will be indexed by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The SRO is to publish the CPI adjusted threshold amount annually.

NEW PLANNING AND ENVIRONMENT REGULATIONS


Rounding up a sweep of recent changes and drawing seven months of public consultation to a close, new Planning and Environment Regulations 2015 came into operation on 16 May 2015.

Of relevance to State agencies that own, develop or manage land, three new forms have been inserted for giving notice of a proposal and decision to amend or end a section 173 Agreement.  As such, all users of Victoria's planning system will need to update their systems and review the new forms.  To consider the effect of these changes on your Department or agency, contact:

Eliza Bergin
Principal Solicitor
8684 0267
eliza.bergin@vgso.vic.gov.au

Juliette Halliday
Managing Principal Solicitor
t 8684 0299
juliette.halliday@vgso.vic.gov.au

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