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August 09 Edition Cover

Council is given planning powers

03 Jul 2012

Council is given planning powers Image

Friday, June 29 was a massive news day for Docklands with Planning Minister Matthew Guy announcing that planning powers were being returned to the City of Melbourne.

Mr Guy also announced approval for MAB Corporation’s revised master-plan which includes new towers and a hotel at NewQuay Central (see our story on page 2).

The City of Melbourne has been lobbying for years for planning control of Docklands but has had to be content with being asked for its comments and recommendations only.

It will now be the arbiter of all developments of less than 25,000 sqm – bringing Docklands into line with the planning rules that exist within the CBD.

For the first time, Docklands planning application will be advertised and residents will be able to lodge objections.

Mr Guy pointed out that the transfer of authority to the council was from the Department of Planning and Community Development and that Places Victoria would retain its role as master developer.

“Places Victoria has created the structure plan for Docklands and they’ve done a wonderful job. Well this is the next stage – that of community focus,” Mr Guy said.

“No developer or Places Victoria can get the nuances right like the City Council can.”

He said the developers had to accept the decision as “a bold new way to move it forward”.

“50 per cent is built, so the next 50 per cent will have a different focus of how it integrates,” he said.

“From today, the residents of Docklands will have a direct connection through their council to planning decisions and will have a stronger voice over decisions that impact upon their community.”

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said Mr Guy’s decision was very important for consistency of design in Docklands and for using the “great expertise that exists at the City of Melbourne”.

“This is a decision of great foresight and it will be of benefit to the residents of Docklands, both present and future,” he said.

Docklands News understands that developers will still make their applications directly with Places Victoria, as stipulated by their long-standing and legally-binding developer agreements.

In instances where the development is less than 25,000 sqm, Places Victoria will in the future forward the application directly to the City of Melbourne for determination.  

The change means developers will have recourse to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) should they not agree with the council’s decision.  Docklands developers have not enjoyed this privilege in the past.

Developers were generally resigned to having the council determine their applications.  One was openly hostile, while others said it mattered little in the complex labyrinth of bureaucratic overlay.

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