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