The following extracts are taken verbatim from the MAV’s (Municipal Association of Victoria) guide to councillors on planning. (Uploaded HERE). Readers need to keep in mind that in Glen Eira:

  • No councillor is present at Delegated Planning Committee Meetings
  • One councillor chairs a Planning Conference – rarely do other councillors show up to these.
  • No minutes or public reports are published from the DPC meetings and for Planning Conferences the officer’s report is lucky to be more than 50 words and is a bullet point summary of ‘objections’.
  • Councillors have no ratified and hence legal right to application ‘call ins’
  • Residents can’t speak to planning applications at council meetings
  • Councillors continue to delegate away all their powers
  • We strongly suspect that half the time councillors don’t have a clue as to what is going on!

“Planning for the future needs of the community is a challenging and vital councillor responsibility. Planning decisions shape communities and influence the physical environment and quality of life. They have long term consequences and can affect people’s livelihoods and amenity. A councillor needs to understand the important opportunities that the planning system provides to shape the future of the local community.

Councils also have a key role as representatives of the local community to advocate on the community’s behalf, particularly in the assessment of projects of state significance or proposed changes to state policy.

Generally speaking it is the role of councillors to set planning policies and direction, and the role of officers to carry out the administrative functions of the council at the direction of the councillors acting as a collective body.

Councillors have broad and active involvement in the planning system

It’s a good idea to participate in consultation to have a full appreciation of the proposal and the objectors concerns and often councillors can play a useful role in mediating solutions, where all parties are willing.

A councillor has a responsibility to be informed about planning permit applications that are presented to a council meeting for decision. The council planner’s report is essential reading and should be discussed with council colleagues and the council planner well in advance of the meeting so as to have a full understanding of the relevant planning issues and any limits around the decision to be made

A councillor can initiate changes to the existing local policies in the planning scheme and request the development of new policies if required. If you are dissatisfied with the content or operation of an existing policy, discuss the concerns with council colleagues and identify options to improve the effectiveness of the policy with council management. A council resolution may be necessary to give the review or project a priority in the administration’s work program.”

And on the mandatory Planning Scheme Review:

“As the date for the review approaches, councillors should discuss with the planner an appropriate structure and process for the review. It may be appropriate to establish a small working group of councillors to develop a revised draft MSS. The review should involve consultation with stakeholders such as resident groups, government agencies and representatives of professional groups.”