Expert squad appointed

LOCAL developers hope a new “expert” planning squad appointed to work with Latrobe City Council will expedite the approval of key development proposals in the region.

With numerous residential developments stalled across the region, despite widespread land releases by council since last year, past months have seen tensions between council’s planning department and local developers reach boiling point.

In more recent weeks a number of prominent building industry sources claimed their progress on projects had been more positive, but others remained mired in complex and lengthy negotiations with council over development plan overlays.

On Friday State Member for Morwell Russell Northe said a regional and rural planning “flying squad” had commenced project work in the Latrobe Valley.

He said council was advised in late July it had “been successful in securing ‘flying squad’ assistance”.

“The aim of the ‘flying squad’ is to provide specialist expert and technical assistance on issues such as major projects and developments, long-term land use issues, strategic plans as well as immediate planning support with planning permit and planning scheme amendment work,” Mr Northe said

“The type of assistance provided varies for each council depending on local needs, with most services provided by consultants managed by Department of Planning and Community Development and supplemented with senior DPCD planners.”

Mr Northe said council had asked for the flying squad’s support to streamline the assessment of Valley development plans and “ensure optimal community outcomes were achieved in relation to urban design and liveability”.

“Mesh Planning have been selected to undertake the project and have demonstrated the necessary experience in such projects and have provided a sound understanding of the tasks involved,” he said.