Developers support streamlined process

Developers have welcomed Latrobe City Council’s decision to delegate planning permit consideration to reduce the time it takes to deal with applications.

Under the new method, if a planning application has five objections or less the chief executive can grant it without councillors hearing the matter at a meeting.

Sure Constructions managing director David Sowerby, who had been forced to wait for his company’s applications to be heard at council meetings, supported the changes.

“Anything that’s standardising the process in line with other local government areas is a move in the right direction,” Mr Sowerby said.

“It shows that they’re streamlining policies and looking for efficiencies and ways of reducing unnecessary red tape.”

Acting planning and governance general manager Chris Wightman said the changes were made, along with a number of other measures, to address the “range of factors” which affect the time taken to decide to grant or refuse an application.

“One of the factors being that decisions which can be made at an officer level are being required to be presented to council,” Mr Wightman said.

The report detailed an applicant could wait up to five months to receive a decision, with delays including the time required to prepare a report and the ability to schedule the report for a council meeting.

Applications will now only be heard at a council meetings if there are more than five objectors or if the chief executive decides to, with or without a request from councillors.

Mr Wightman stressed this process did not limit the applicant’s ability to discuss their views with officers or councillors or to appeal the decision at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

“We want to ensure a high quality decision is made in a timely manner… it’s about striking a good balance,” Mr Wightman said.

Council will review the process after six months.