I agree that greater involvement in planning applications by Bass Coast Shire councillors, as suggested by Cr Rankine, would help to get more applications through the turgid and frustrating process of town planning, but would it be enough?
The lack of clarity in the current process makes it difficult for developers to commit to projects in this shire.
In fact, as a property investor and small time developer, I have been racking my brains as to how to optimise the development of a block I own in Grantville, without having to go via the planning department.
Currently the only other way I can be assured of a faster outcome is to go via Town Planning with the back-up option of a challenge in VCAT.
The problem is not exclusively with the planners themselves but with the interpretation of the Town Planning Scheme.
If you ask five different planners the same planning question you will more than likely get five different answers.
Some planners are more flexible than others but some are so officious and ploddingly pedantic it makes you wonder if they are sadistically inclined and intentionally make the life of developers miserable just because they can!
Whatever the reason, I know from talking with local real estate agents that too many developers throw their arms up in the air and move away from developments in this shire.
The most misused and miss applied section of the planning scheme is the Neighbourhood Character Overlay.
When planners delay a development because it does not fit into the Neighbourhood Character Overlay in townships such as Grantville for example, one can only scratch one’s head and ask ‘what neighbourhood character can they possibly be referring to?
They have either never noticed the distinct lack of character of the Grantville architectural landscape or they are permanently rooted in La La Land.
Though I support the move to have more planning applications approved by our councillors, I would be more inclined to suggest that it would be much more efficient to get rid of the planning department altogether and outsource the work to private planners.
Only then would we be able to get rid of the backlog of planning applications and get township developments moving at a faster pace.
Helen Zervopoulos, Grantville.