May 17, 2012

New Planning Laws A Threat To Home Values And Amenity

The Baillieu Government is pushing through new laws to give developers free reign in suburban streets, the Shadow Minister for Planning, Brian Tee, said today.

Mr Tee said the Baillieu Government would introduce new laws into Parliament next week to set up “Code Assess”, a new planning permit system that would rob people of their right to protect the value of their home and lifestyles.

“Code Assess is a frightening attack on the rights of home owners to stop inappropriate development in Victorian suburbs,” he said.

“It will strip away your right to be notified about a property development in your street – and abolish your right to appeal against it.

“It is an outrageous attack on open and accountable planning decision-making and the public’s right to have a say about what happens in their backyard.”

Mr Tee said Victorians valued the amenity of their suburbs.

“Nothing is more important to the long-term financial security of families than the value of their home. People have spent years saving to buy a dream home.  Your home is not only the place you and your family live. It is also your most important financial asset.

“At a time when Victorian property values are already being hit because of the Baillieu Government’s lazy economic management, opening the gates to open slather development in suburbs will drive house prices down further.”

Mr Tee said Code Assess was a one-size-fits all mandatory planning code that would determine standards like height and density limits. Any development application that meets the “standards” will get the green light.

“It will be as simple as ‘tick and flick’,” he said.

Mr Tee said Planning Minister Matthew Guy yesterday confirmed his plans at a parliamentary committee hearing.

“Mr Guy told the committee most people do not care if they had no say over a neighbour’s plan to extend their home or renovate,” Mr Tee said.

“The Property Council was reported in today’s Age newspaper saying they have an expectation that the changes should include the fast-tracking of multi-unit developments.”

Mr Tee said the Baillieu Government was pushing these laws through parliament as quickly as possible without consulting the community because it knows the public won’t support them.

“Labor is determined to inform the community about the new laws and let them have their say,” Mr Tee said.

“To sign an online petition calling on the Baillieu Government to abandon Code Assess visit www.springst.com.au.”

BACKGROUND

WHAT IS ‘CODE ASSESS’?

The Minister for Planning has announced he will dramatically overhaul Victoria’s planning system by introducing “Code Assess” legislation by July this year.

Code Assess is essentially a one-size-fits-all mandatory planning code that will determine standards like height and density limits. Any development application that meets the “standards” will get the green light.

The Age reported on 15 March that in so called “key development areas” these height limits could be 20 storeys.

WHAT MIGHT IT MEAN FOR ME?

You could come home from work to find your neighbour’s house knocked down to be replaced by a high rise development.

If Code Assess standards are met, local residents have no right to be given any notice, so you cannot object to Council and you have no right to appeal to VCAT.

The character of a community can play a large part in deciding where you want to live but under Code Assess, you’ll have no say.

A multi-storey development going up next door could have a dramatic impact on the value of your home but under Code Assess, you’ll have no say.

WHAT HAS THE MINISTER SAID?

At business lunch in March, Minister for Planning Matthew Guy, told developers that legislation would be introduced this financial year, meaning no public consultation before the legislation is introduced.

WHAT THE MINISTER HAS NOT SAID

We are told the legislation will be introduced next week. We have not been told who will determine what these new mandatory standards look like. Will it be councils? The Planning Minister?

How can they be amended? And how will they be en­forced? Will unelected council bureaucrats be asked to “tick and flick” each development application to ensure it meets the Code Assess standards? Or will councils have to make the decision on each occasion?

The legislation is being drafted without any reference to the community. The Baillieu Government’s control of both houses of Parliament means there will be limited opportu­nity to scrutinise and consult on the legislation prior to it being rammed through.