When figuring out what is possible on your property, it’s often a good idea to see what else has recently been approved in your local area. Has the council recently approved units around the corner, two storey buildings, tree removal, reduced setbacks and so on? You can gain great insight into what council is likely to approve on your own property by looking at what else is currently being considered, particularly if you share the same zoning & overlays.
Let’s say you’ve got a residential site in Mornington and you’re trying to decide on what would be a suitable development. You may be thinking ‘how about a dual occupancy or multi unit development’. While each site is unique and council are supposed to assess each application on its merrits, it’s generally more difficult to be the first in the street, particularly if you’re pushing the boundaries of what is permitted. Some inside knowledge of a current application can really help you in determining your site’s potential. And it’s always worth remembering when it comes to planning, there are no guarantees, even when it appears you have all your ducks in a row. So where exactly can you find this information?
- Your Council’s Website
- Planning Alerts
- Know Your Council
- AustLII VCAT Decisions
A great resource in this regard is the council’s own website. Mornington Peninsula council, for example, publish all their advertised planning applications online and you can search by phrase or keyword. Similarly, I recently became aware of another website called “Planning Alerts”, here you can plug in your address and you are automatically alerted of any applications within a certain distance of your site and best of all it’s free. Another great resource is the ‘know your council’ website. Here you can track your council’s performance compared to other councils.
From a planning perspective, this compares council time frames (the average time it takes them to decide on a planning application). At the time of writing, for example, the Mornington Peninsula shire council took around 92 days to assess an application compared to around 70 days for other councils in the state. It’s also interesting to note that around 65% of their decisions were upheld at VCAT (Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal)—another reason to keep council on side.
And that brings me to another important resource. In many cases, VCAT supports applications which have been refused by council and you can search for VCAT decisions on the AustLII government website. It’s always a good idea to educate yourself or use an experienced professional when embarking on a new project especially if your goal is to push the boundaries and get the most out of your site.