Transparency must stay in planning system

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Statement from MAV President Cr David Clark: Planning should be about building and growing communities, not lining developers’ pockets. Any move by the State Government to sideline councils and communities from important planning decisions – as has been reported this week – would put at risk the transparency and effectiveness of the current system.

Victorians expect to be consulted on significant development within their neighbourhoods and councils are the best place for this consultation to take place. Unlike other levels of government, councils conduct their business with high levels of transparency, which allows significant input from the communities they represent.

The findings from this week’s Operation Daintree report by IBAC have many asking: can communities trust a State Government that has an increasing level of “improper conduct” or “grey corruption” to make planning decisions that are in the best interests of the community?

Existing planning processes have allowed councils to facilitate tens of billions of dollars’ worth of development every year while maintaining a high degree of community input. Despite claims from the developer sector, the system isn’t in complete ruin.

Reports that Melbourne needs one million additional homes by 2050 may sound dramatic, but when that number is split out across our established suburbs, it is highly achievable with our existing system. Removing community voice for perceived efficiency is simply not justified.

Local government recognises the need for planning system reform. As the decision makers for the vast majority of planning permit applications processed in Victoria, councils are open to working with the State Government to improve the system.

In response to this week’s reporting, the MAV has sought an urgent meeting with the Planning Minister where we will reiterate our calls for the State Government to work alongside councils to achieve reforms that deliver the best possible outcomes for communities, including more housing.