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Mary Drost Planning Backlash Submission to proposed changes in Planning Laws [VIC, Australia]

Planning Backlash Inc, a coalition of 250 resident groups across city, coast and country, is astonished at the complexity of the proposals for major changes to Melbourne and her Green Wedges and the limited time to understand it and make submissions. Coalition members are disappointed that there has been no thought given by Government to run public sessions to explain the changes. As a result the vast majority of people don’t know what is happening and have been given no opportunity to find out.

SUBMISSION TO PROPOSED CHANGES IN PLANNING LAWS

21st September 2012

INTRODUCTION
I am Mary Drost Convenor of PLANNING BACKLASH INC a coalition of 250 resident groups across city, coast and country.
We are astonished at the complexity of the proposals and the limited time to understand it and make submissions. We are disappointed that there has been no thought given by Government to run public sessions to explain the changes. As a result the vast majority of people don’t know what is happening and have been given no opportunity to find out.

Many people are not in a position to have access to internet and this is such a complex document it takes great skill to understand it all.

These proposed changes are very good for the suburban residential areas but there needs better understanding of Rural and Green Wedge areas and the Commercial Zones should be more clearly thought out.
TO RESPOND TO THE SECTIONS IN THE PROPOSALS
1. SUBURBS - Residential
Commercial
2. GREEN WEDGES
3. RURAL ZONES
4. THE FARMING ZONE
5. INDUSTRIAL
6. TOWNSHIPS

1. SUBURBAN - RESIDENTIAL
We agree with the Zones as finally we can have the protection against inappropriate development that we have been wanting since Melbourne 2030 was brought in and forced onto us in spite of our objections. The Residential Zones are excellent and we thank the Minister of Planning for his courage bringing these in, no doubt against the wishes of the DPCD.
However there are a number of points needing amendment and the Minister has agreed to a number these amendments during our meeting on the 10th September. Our agreement to the whole zone concept is dependent on these amendments, because if these are kept in, they would negate the advantages.

LIST OF AMENDMENTS THAT WE REQUEST

The Minister will scrap the ‘within 100 m’ of a commercial zone to prevent commercial creep into residential zones. This can in effect double the business area and has unwanted implications.

The Activity Centres will be Principal and Major also Central, and must have fixed boundaries, and not extending out 400 m.

Neighbourhood Activity Centres will be just local shopping strips.

There will be no population targets.

There will be no reduction in residents right to object and appeal.

Maximum heights must apply to all buildings in the zone.

The only uses not requiring permits in residential zones will be those not requiring permits now. Everything else requires a permit and residents retain the right to object. Current prohibitions must be retained and no dilution of present conditions. Rather, enhance the zones to provide the tools to enable the protection of neighbourhood character.

The Council working with residents can say where and how big the residential zones will be and the Minister will approve and the DPCD will not interfere.

If the Council wants mandatory heights the Minister will give it and the DPCD will not interfere.

We do not agree with office and shops as of right in the RGZ or the GRZ.

We do not agree with food and drink premises as of right in RGZ.

We do not agree with medical centres as of right in RGZ, GRZ or NRZ.

We do not agree with place of worship as of right in any residential zones

We do not agree with changes in size of land where houses can be built without a permit.

We do not agree with 9 mts building heights in NRZ areas as these areas are predominantly one and two storey houses.

Council must retain the current permit requirements under Res 1 and be retained in all residential zones.

Neighbourhood character must be considered and this could mean in areas of predominantly single story detached housing, rescode is varied to suit neighbourhood character, allowing prohibition of boundary to boundary houses

Height limits must apply to all buildings and not just residential.

We request Peer Review as promised by the Minister

SUBURBAN - COMMERCIAL

WE RECOMMEND THAT THESE COMMERCIAL ZONES ALL BE PUT ON HOLD UNTIL IT IS THOUGHT THROUGH PROPERLY AND PROPER CONSULTATION WITH COUNCILS AND COMMUNITY TAKES PLACE. Commercial is not likes as it is pushing high density housing.

IN BRIEF, however:

There must be permits to locate any offices in commercial zones, so that council can direct offices to suitable areas.

* Essential to have permits to locate gaming venues or taverns in Activity Centres

Must have permits to locate cinemas or shops or small supermarkets in enterprise corridors or any other areas.

Third party rights must be retained.

There must be strict height controls.

RURAL, FARMING, INDUSTRIAL AND GREEN WEDGE ZONES

2. GREEN WEDGES
We do not agree with the Green Wedges being encroached on, unless the Green Wedges Coalition agrees to any parts being taken out. We would suggest that if any part has to come out for some urgent reason that it be replaced somewhere else.
We do not agree with the proposed developments in the Green Wedges, such as new as of right uses especially rural industry and rural store. Nor should previously prohibited uses become discretionary such as abattoir, medical centre, place of assembly, sawmill, service station. These being discretionary will add to VCAT and council work and will significantly change the intended character of the Green Wedges.

There should be much further community consultation before any changes are brought in. Much more time is needed.
We have suggested to the Minister that instead, he do all possible to turn the Wedges into a Green Belt as there is around London and has development further out (providing it is not on good farming land) and that fast trains run out to new areas so that people can commute as they do into London.

In addition we recommend that the Minister takes immediate steps to protect the other Green strips running across Melbourne – the waterways. These are constantly threatened by development along their edges and these waterways should be protected and be Green Ribbons in Melbourne, with no building allowed near their edges so that they have natural growth along their length for future generations to enjoy.

We understand that Ted Baillieu agreed to the plan to create a Capital City Yarra Park and this should be done without delay before any more destruction by developers is allowed by VCAT.

3. RURAL ZONES
The changes in these zones have not been strategically justified.

We object strongly to the changes of prohibited to discretionary use and discretionary to as of right use. This will result in uncontrolled buildings and works and this should not be allowed. These include schools and service stations . Changes to the Section 173 agreements is opposed.

Rural Activities Zone

We oppose change to as of right for bed and breakfast occupation, primary produce sales, rural industry and rural stores – these must be controlled by the responsible authority.

We oppose the change to discretionary use for abattoir, accommodation other than dwelling, retail premises, sawmill and warehouse.

Rural Conservation Zone

We oppose the changes from prohibited into section 2 needing a permit, such as accommodation other than dwelling and dependent persons unit, animal boarding, agriculture freezing and cool storage changes, landscape garden supplies, leisure and recreation and primary and secondary schools, changes to requirements for restaurants

Rural Living Zone

We oppose the reduction in the minimum lot size for a dwelling from 8 hectares to 2 hectares. This zone is for rural residential way of life and this change would spoil that.

4. THE FARMING ZONE

We do not support the change from discretionary to as of right for primary produce sales, rural industry or rural store, increase of bed and breakfast from 6 to 10.

We do not support the change from prohibited to discretionary of abattoir, industry, landscape garden supplies, market, sawmill, trade supplies, warehouse.

This zone should protect natural resources

5. INDUSTRIAL

What is proposed raises serious questions and this should be looked into more carefully before being introduced as it has drastic implications. We suggest independent studies should be undertaken before proceeding.

6. TOWNSHIP ZONE

Basically there are improvements in this zone but we do not agree with Medical Centres or expanded Places of Worship being without permit.

However the Low Density Residential Zone, which is usually unsewered and lacking in services and in water catchment areas, will be worse off - we object to changes re Medical Centres and Takeaway Food Premises. Nor do we agree with the land subdivision to 2,000 sqm because of the effect it would have on Macedon, Kyneton, Gisborne etc. and possibly others in other areas.

ADDITIONAL ZONE SUGGESTED - WORLD HERITAGE ZONE

It would ensure the ongoing protection of this precious part of Melbourne to create its own zone with its own protective measures to both the Exhibition Building and surrounding garden.

CONCLUSION

We believe there is great merit in the proposed Residential Zones providing our amendments are carried through.

The other zones need a lot of more study and consultation.

Much of what has been proposed will permanently damage what makes Melbourne such a desirable city.

The push to keep the economy going by this means is very short sighted and does not work in the long run.

There is a lack of strategic justification and no statement re the economic and social impacts of the reforms.
There is a lack of information concerning transitioning to the new zones, resourcing, current planning applications and VCAT appeals.


At the moment there exists on the outskirts of Melbourne several years of supply of land owned by developers ready for development and in addition several years supply of land inside Melbourne. It is poor judgement to spread even further and destroy so much good farming land when there is no need. Maybe in the near future a Federal Government will put a hold on this excessive immigration that is spoiling our city. It is time to be clever and copy the Dutch who are going in for super high tech to keep the economy high while keeping a stable population.

FINALLY
I request to speak to the Panel when the Review committee runs public hearings.
Mary Drost
Convenor
Planning Backlash Inc
[Name and phone number excised by Candobetter editor]
28 SEPTEMBER 2012

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