It is often said that the City Council should be given back its planning powers? But should it? The Council should not be judge jury and legislator.
The Council should be the administrator and have planning authority to determine the strategic plans for a city but it should not the the decider or interpreter of the planning scheme. May councils do not have the skill or professionalism to determine what is good and what is bad. Any limitation and restrictions should be spelt out in the planning scheme. A scheme which the City Council should have limited control over.
The Council should be an advocate on a planning decision but not the judge. To this extent the idea of decisions being made by professional planning authorities is a good one. But the authority MUST consider and interpret the planning scheme in force correctly. It the scheme is failing to address issues of broad community concern then it should be amended and the deciding body must reflect on those controls.
All too often we see the City Council itself ignore their won rules and guidelines like the time when Steven Mayne, Deputy Chair for the Planning portfolio ties to circumvent and ignore height limits that have been in force in the city for decades. Planning on the run at a whim must be avoided at all costs
More often than not we also see the City Council pt up a pretense to fight an application when in fact they do not oppose it but do so for a variety of reasons one being community political pressure.
Ron Adams and Geoff Lawler are classic examples of administrators that ignore the planning scheme when it suits them. The City Council has failed to incorporate policies designed it protect Melbourne Victorian Verandahs with Rob Adams actively seeking to allow balconies projecting over the foot path destroying the historic street scrapes. his is an area where the City Council has absolute control as the building projects over public space,
Concerned at the loss of heritage and the impact it has on the Victorian Street Scape the City of Melbourne commissioned, be it reluctantly a document on Lygon Street verandahs. A policy that has been forgotten and not included in the latest planning review.
Anther example of slight of hand is the failure of the City Council, Geoff Lawler in particular to act to protect the amenity in Domain Rd. South Yarra. The changes in State planning that have been forced on the City Council means that the Domain Road precinct has now been classified as a Commercial One Zone (C1Z) "Upgraded: from a Business one zone (B1Z). The new C1Z planning zones come with an as of right use for licensed premises where the former planning
The Domain Rd precinct was designed to facilitate the needs to the adjoining residential precinct.but over the years the amenity of this precinct has been allowed to deteriorate, with the Council doing noting to protect its use and development. Under the old planning scheme licensed premises needed a planning permit. Under the new C1Z scheme retail premises no longer need a planning permit ad has a as of right use. Licensed premises falls under the definition of retail premises and such such they too do not need a planning permit. Night clubs tavern and the like where restricted before the amendment now they can be established without the need to even apply for a planning permit
Clem Newton Brown has been called on to act and to have licensed premises removed from the definition of retail premises. Something that Clem has failed to act on, His inability to represent the local residents is an issue that is of considerable concern and one that has not gone unnoticed. Residents in South Yarra have indicated they will campaign against him should he not address this issue
But it is not just Clem's issue, The City of Melbourne also has responsibility for this issue and they have done nothing. Geoff :Lawler was oblivious of the changes which effect not only South Yarra but North Melbourne, Carlton, East Melbourne and a host of other prec9incts that now fall under the provision of the new planning zones.
The City Council has placed in the too hard basket planning South of the Yarra, .South Bank has no provision for servicing residential amenity and South Yarra is in decline. It is just not of any interest to the City Planners who are looking to be engaged in newer more challenging developments such as Docklands and the Fisherman's bend precincts. South Yarra dd not even get a mention in the City Council's five year plan and budget.
I would not hold my breath thinking that the ALP will address these issues either. They have been absent form the community debate for decades and have done nothing.