Housing in several forms  have played a pivotal role in economic growth both after the world wars and during the early days of mass migration to Australia.

It created a sense of optimism, hope and  jobs in construction and manufacturing. It created a design style often termed post war.

It was all systems go with no roadblocks.

We must maintain that same spirit now and have planning approvals expedited in the post COVID 19 phase.

We should embrace other types of housing  in Victoria like granny flats and dual key options. While both solve housing affordability problems, they  are  excellent solutions to home isolation, should another pandemic occur.

While I accept good design and safe buildings are important, unnecessary hurdles caused by ideology or subjective interpretation of the Planning Schemes can delay economic growth.

More permits now equate to  more  building activity and lower unemployment in the latter part of 2020.

While most council planning officers understand the importance of speed of approval, some get bogged down  by textbook theory.

Planning  should be streamlined to deliver swift outputs. It can be simplified as follows:

  • Are the building heights and setbacks compliant?
  • Does this Application harm anyone including their amenities?
  • Will this Application damage the environment?
  • Will this Application contribute to our economy?
  • Does the design provide  a safe solution?

Ticking off the appropriate boxes should result in a fast approval.

If it cannot be ticked off, then Council and the Applicant/developer should attend a mandatory meeting  and work out a fast solution rather than it being conveyed through subjective emails and Request for Further Information (RFI’s).

If Council cannot provide a solution;  then it did not have a problem in  the first instance.

In my hundreds of meetings with planning officers across Victoria, I found the planning officers who could contribute a solution were without doubt progressive thinkers.

Lately I have found some young officers are “sketching” a solution rather than wording  ambiguous RFIs. That  attitude should be encouraged by local government.

Both parties  should then  collaborate at these face to face, Zoom or phone meetings to avoid delays through the VCAT process.