The planning application process is defined by the Planning and Environment Act 1987 and is generally consistent across Victoria.
A simple process chart for applications lodged with the Colac Otway Shire is available to download here(PDF, 193KB) or scroll through the stages for more information on the process as it relates to applications for houses within the bushfire affected areas of Wye River and Separation Creek.
A completed application form, together with the supporting documentation and plans as detailed here, can be lodged with the Colac Otway Shire Council by post or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications are registered as soon as possible after receipt and an acknowledgement letter will be emailed or sent to you with the application reference number and contact information.
Applications will be allocated to a planning officer and referred internally to the building, health, engineering, fire prevention and geotechnical teams. The relevant officers will undertake an initial assessment without delay to check that the correct information has been submitted. Officers will also review the development plans and reports to identify whether there are any concerns.
If additional information is required or there are concerns, officers will contact you to highlight what is required. An application will not proceed until all information requested is received.
Section 55 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 requires the referral of applications to specified agencies as stated in the Colac Otway Planning Scheme.
Most planning applications for rebuilding a destroyed house will not require referral to any external agencies. Whilst applications would normally be referred to the CFA, this is not necessary given the specification of a Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) as part of the streamlined planning provisions.
When referral of an application is required, the authority has 21 days after receipt of the referred application in which to request further information. If no further information is required, the authority has 28 days in which to lodge a submission. If the authority objects to a permit application the application must be refused. Any conditions required by a referral authority must become conditions of any planning permit or notice of decision issued.
Public notification (advertising) to other land owners would usually be required for dwellings being constructed in Wye River and Separation Creek, under Section 52 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987. This involves placing plans on exhibition for interested parties to view them over a minimum period of 14 days, and to lodge an objection if they have concerns with the proposal. These objections are then considered by officers when making a decision on the application. It is important to note that objections can be lodged at any time until a decision is made on the application.
However, the new streamlined planning requirements for the bushfire affected areas has altered the standard notice requirements, limiting direct notification for replacement houses only to adjoining and opposite land owners. The application is available for interested parties to view through Councils website until a decision is made on the application.
At this stage, Council will undertake all public notice requirements on behalf of applicants, free of charge.
Assessment of the application involves a qualified officers evaluating the supporting information and plans against the decision guidelines in the Colac Otway Planning Scheme and preparing a report with a recommendation. If the application required the giving of notice and submissions have been received, then these must also be considered before making a decision. Similarly, the comments of any referral authorities must be taken into account.
Council will liaise with applicants to discuss any submissions received, with the aim of resolving issues raised and will generally encourage applicants to make contact with objectors to facilitate a mutually agreeable outcome.
Once an assessment of the application has been made a decision will be made on the application.
A decision will be either a planning permit, a notice of decision to grant a permit or a refusal to grant a permit.
Referral authorities and persons who have made a submission will be notified of the decision. Conditions placed on any permit issued may require adjustments to the proposal which respond to submissions or the officer assessment of the proposal.
The Planning Minister has introduced provisions that delegate decision making to the Council’s Chief Executive Officer, or her staff, with the aim of streamlining the time frames for decisions. This will mean that decisions will be made by officers instead of Council’s Planning Committee, saving several weeks in the reporting process.
For applications for a dwelling on lots where a house was not destroyed in the fires, and where objections are received, Council would need to issue a Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit instead of a permit, providing a 21 day period for lodgement of an appeal by objectors against the decision. This reflects the normal appeals process.
A permit applicant can lodge an application for review with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) if Council refuses the application or if an applicant is concerned about any of the conditions imposed on a permit granted.
For bushfire affected properties where the house was destroyed, the Minister has removed the normal appeal rights for objectors against Council’s decision. In these circumstances, Council’s decision relating to neighbour’s interests would be final. This does not mean that objections raising concerns about a proposal will be ignored but rather, it will be very important that Council carefully considers objections, and makes a balanced decision that appropriately responds to the planning provisions and amenity considerations.
Details of the procedure for an application for review can be obtained from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, 55 King Street, Melbourne, telephone: 9628 9777.
Planning Application Process(PDF, 193KB)