Statement from the Mayor - Victorian Government Planning Reforms
Published on 22 September 2023
A statement from the Mayor of Maroondah, Cr Rob Steane regarding the Victorian Government Planning Reforms.
Council is currently reviewing the planning reforms recently announced by the Victorian Government. We have had preliminary discussions with the Victorian Government to ensure that we can continue to work efficiently together to achieve a positive outcome for our community.
However, some of the recent comments which generalise the performance of Local Government’s planning processes are divisive and unfair. There are many high performing councils, like Maroondah, who have been consistently processing applications within the required timeframes and to a high level.
For the past 10 years Maroondah City Council has been one of the fastest decision-making metropolitan councils, with processing timeframes that are far superior to the four months (120 days) proposed by the Victorian Government decision making on major projects. In the past four years, 82.4 per cent of our planning applications have been decided in under 60 days - this is well above last year’s state-metropolitan average of 59 per cent. We also currently have a 95.45 per cent success rate of Council decisions that have been upheld at VCAT - one of the highest success rates in the sector. We are proud that our town planners, like many others working in the sector, are subject matter experts, which is why we continue to exceed the state’s averages.
These positive results have ensured that the delivery of development and housing in the city remains efficient and effective. We are proud of this record, as while we recognise the need for additional housing, we maintain a strong focus on working in consultation with our community and construction industry to ensure positive outcomes for all proposed developments. This approach has meant that Council has supported nearly all of the major planning applications in the past 10 years, like those now proposed to be managed by the Victorian Government. We have been able to reach mutually acceptable outcomes between the community and industry, which has resulted in well-designed housing that meets the needs of our future residents.
Council is also aware that the industry is struggling with the delivery of these major projects. There has been an increase in requests to Council from permit holders, for additional time to commence their developments. Some of these delays relate to availability of building materials, finance and workforce to deliver these large scale projects. In these instances, Council works with the applicants to ensure the process achieves a positive outcome for both parties.
In Maroondah, we are also fortunate to have Ringwood as a designated Metropolitan Activity Centre (RMAC). Ringwood has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past decade, with urban renewal on a scale never before seen, cementing its position as the epicentre of the eastern region for commerce and employment.
RMAC is recognised by the Victorian Government as a centre dedicated to stimulating employment, greater housing diversity, community services, and is a priority of the Government’s blueprint for Melbourne’s future growth, Plan Melbourne.
Some of the major developments of the past 10 years include the $665m Eastland retail and hospitality expansion (stage 5) and Town Square redevelopment; $66m Ringwood Station and Bus Interchange upgrade; $52m Aquanation construction; $60m Costco Wholesale development and $24m Realm development. With regards to residential development, in RMAC over the past five years there has been approximately 792 dwellings constructed (including currently under construction), with 1177 more dwellings approved and ready for construction.
Council also acknowledges the importance of Affordable Housing within Maroondah. RMAC and our other key activity centres provide a great opportunity to develop high density housing - which supports the Victorian Government’s blue print, Plan Melbourne and the Maroondah Planning Scheme. Unfortunately Council has been stifled by the lack of Victorian Government mandated requirements for inclusion of affordable housing in any proposed developments.
With Ringwood being a designated Metropolitan Activity Centre, we will be working closely with the Victorian Planning Authority on any future changes to the planning scheme so that we continue to facilitate well designed and affordable housing that meets the needs of future residents of Ringwood.
This will be informed by the community sentiment received during the consultation and revision of the RMAC Masterplan and planning scheme. This will ensure any changes to the planning scheme will remain relevant to the community’s future vision for the precinct.