No grounds for dismissal

Once upon a time, many years ago, the town planning process in Victoria was treated like every other legal proceeding – planning applications were submitted for approval, planning departments had sufficient autonomy to make decisions without referring to elected officials, and objections were only permitted if they could point to areas in which an application transgressed planning guidelines.

Alas, this fair and logical system was eventually corrupted by the villainous political machine. A decision was made that the planning environment should become less legalistic in order to encourage community involvement, and voila! The modern [sic] planning process was born.

Today, architects and owners must suffer through a tortuous system defined by fuzzy regulations, governed by under-experienced and overly-cautious town planners and threatened at all times by neighbours, resident action groups and other “interested” parties possessing not even a rudimentary understanding of the relevant regulations.

There is something terribly wrong with a town planning process, a process that is after all charged with the responsibility of shaping the future of our built environment, that permits neighbours, conservative to the hilt and the originators of the NIMBY paradigm, to hold planning applications to ransom over the smallest of details or nothing at all.

If the Honourable Matthew Guy truly wishes to make a positive mark in his role as Victoria’s Minister for Planning, we suggest he revise the current scheme to eliminate subjective guidelines, entitle trained planning professionals to make fair and a-political decisions and, crucially, strip the great unwashed masses of their power to derail considered and compliant planning applications… Surely, a happily ever after for the planning process and for architecture.

Author: Warwick Mihaly

I am an architect, writer, teacher and father.

1 thought on “No grounds for dismissal”

  1. Case in point:

    Recently, we submitted a low-impact design for a single house on a vacant rural-township lot for planning approval. Despite the proposal being 100% compliant with all relevant regulations, one of the neighbours objected over excessive overshadowing and the loss of his view, the former objection in fact fictitious and the latter totally irrelevant to town planning policy. We were dragged into negotiations with this neighbour for three weeks, determined to reach a compromise with him and avoid the time, energy and money-consuming process of a VCAT hearing. We say compromise but last time we checked, doesn’t this mean both parties agreeing to meet somewhere in the middle?

    We finally achieved an agreement with the neighbour today, along with the hard-earned realisation that he, like many a neighbour before him, may not understand town planning regulations, may not even know how to read an architectural plan, but understands perfectly well that architects and owners will go to great lengths to avoid VCAT.

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