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Councils welcome temporary changes to state planning laws

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The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) welcomes the Victorian Government’s decision to provide exemptions in the planning system to facilitate outdoor dining across the state.

The changes announced yesterday by the Government temporarily remove the need to apply for a new or amended planning permit. These applications often required councils to undertake lengthy processes that are normally appropriate but hamper the flexibility needed in these extraordinary circumstances.

MAV President Cr Coral Ross said councils have been working closely with local hospitality businesses for several weeks to progress plans to safely use existing outdoor spaces, as well as nearby parks and public land to accommodate and serve patrons.

“We welcome the Minister’s recognition that temporary adjustments to state planning laws were necessary to enable councils to progress the hundreds of applications they have received from businesses since outdoor dining activation was announced in mid-September.

“Councils’ top priority now is to work with local businesses to create solutions that do not compromise community safety and amenity.

“There are still a range of federal and state government laws that businesses need to comply with, such as liquor licencing, road use permits, Chief Health Officer directions, and access for people with disabilities.

“There also needs to be arrangements for emergency vehicles and public transport if streets are closed.

“Having local community support will be vital to the success of these businesses. Application of council local laws will help balance the needs of business with a range of potential amenity impacts including hours of operation, noise and changes to road use.

“Councils are actively working with local hospitability businesses to resolve the various issues that will be key to a safe and successful reopening.

“Throughout this pandemic, councils have provided significant support and relief to local businesses. Councils recognise the importance and value of thriving local economies and are committed to supporting a strong, safe and sustainable recovery.

“We call on the Victorian Government to work more closely with the MAV and councils to enable councils to put the appropriate processes in place prior to the Minister making announcements to the media.”