Low permit figures

The recently released Planning Permit Activity in Victoria 2010-11 report showed Latrobe City received and issued hundreds less planning permits in that period than other Gippsland councils.

Latrobe City attributed its comparatively low planning permit activity to differences in planning provision requirements.

Compared with other large regional municipalities including Ballarat and Bendigo, Latrobe received and issued about 600 less planning permits.

The report showed Latrobe received 466 planning applications in 2010-11 and issued 291. By comparison, East Gippsland received 821 and issued 782, South Gippsland received 651 and issued 556, Bass Coast received 705 and issued 608 and Baw Baw received 652, issuing 522.

When asked why Latrobe’s figures were so low, Latrobe City planning managers referred to the different planing permit requirements, set out in Victorian Planning Provisions, affecting individual municipalities.

Speaking to The Express yesterday Latrobe City general manager built and natural environment Peter Quigley said triggers for permits affected some municipalities more than others.

Latrobe City manager city planning Chris Wightman said stringent vegetation controls in Bass Coast and East Gippsland meant permits were required more frequently in those municipalities while Latrobe, as a major regional centre with areas of large urban consolidation, had many residentially zoned areas where planning permits were not required.

Comparisons between municipalities did not account for a range of different controls in place, Mr Quigley said.

He said the size of East Gippsland’s municipality meant it was likely to receive more planning permit applications while the higher number of heritage listed properties in Ballarat and Bendigo meant more controls were enforced in those municipalities.

The report showed Latrobe issued 1284 building permits in 2010-11, compared with 1330 in Bass Coast, 1524 in Baw Baw, 1136 in East Gippsland and 759 in South Gippsland.

Mr Quigley said those figures reflected there had been “significant building activity related to the stimulus package and bushfire-related construction…so there has been a spike”.

“What we are seeing is pretty consistent with what’s happening across regional Victoria, when you take out those anomalies,” he said.

Building permits are required for anything from a verandah to a shed construction, even where planning permits are not required.

While statewide figures released in past weeks showed dwelling approvals fell sharply across the state in December, Mr Quigley said Latrobe did not have December figures as yet but it was “fair to say that generally across the state there has been a cooling of the property market, with less construction, and the community is very well aware of that”.

Mr Wightman said he believed Latrobe’s permit numbers for December were “fairly consistent with the back half of 2011” which saw a “small decline in commercial and industrial dwellings”.

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