Planning permit process streamlined

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Council has abolished the Development Hearings Panel (DHP) special committee and endorsed the revised Terms of Reference for the Planning Committee.

Removing the DHP will streamline the application process and improve timeframes, as the panel adds an average of four weeks to the decision-making. The removal of the DHP and amendments to the Planning Committee Terms of Reference will give more certainty to applicants and objectors because there is one less forum where a permit may be decided.

The DHP, which was made up of four senior council officers and could include a councillor, considered and determined planning permit applications which were referred by either a councillor or planning officers, had six or more objections lodged or were recommended for refusal.

Applicants have consistently asked for improved efficiency of permit decision-making. Benchmarking against similar large and regional councils shows the City is the only council using the DHP to decide planning applications.

The Planning Committee considers and determines planning permit applications which have been called in by a councillor. Since May 2018, 16 applications have been called in and 13 meetings have been held on an as required basis.

The Planning Committee Terms of Reference will now include the trigger for councillors to “call in” planning permit applications with six or more objections or applications for refusal. The amendment also includes a requirement of a minimum two ward councillors and one other councillor agreeing to a “call in”. Having multiple ward councillors involved aims to encourage councillors to work together and be across significant planning matters for their ward.


Greater Geelong Mayor Bruce Harwood

The changes made tonight will streamline the planning permit application process and save time for all involved. We’ve heard the concerns of applicants loud and clear.

The abolition of the Development Hearings Panel also puts the City in-line with similar large and regional councils.

Councillor Stephanie Asher, Chair, Planning portfolio

One of the key pieces of feedback we’ve had about our planning processes is that they’re a little too slow. By removing the Development Hearings Panel we can help to address this by offering a more efficient and streamlined process for applicants and objectors.

It’s been generally agreed that having multiple councillors involved in a call-in to the Planning Committee encourages councillors to work together and stay across important planning matters within their ward.

We’ll review these changes in 12 months’ time and see if they’ve had the desired effect.

Page last updated: Thursday, 11 July 2019