BENDIGO’S “growing pains” have been blamed for a large number of residential subdivision and dwelling alteration matters ending up in appeals before the state’s planning tribunal.
The “tension” between maintaining neighbourhood character and allowing for infill development has also been identified as a weakness in planning policies.
A draft review into the City of Greater Bendigo’s planning scheme will be put before the council next week, which included an analysis of the council’s defeats in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Between 2010 and 2017, 183 planning matters in Bendigo went before VCAT, including 55 appeals against the granting of permits, and 44 appeals against refusals to grant a permit.
Aside from inevitable defeats relating to extensions of time, the council had 25 of the remaining 152 decisions overturned.
Residential development accounted for 124 of the matters.
The report pointed to out-of-date residential character policies from 2001 as a weakness in the council’s planning.
“The policies are very dated, overly prescriptive, repetitive, unclear, difficult to understand, complicate matters, stifle innovation and don’t provide user friendly guidance about what infill development we wish to see,” the report reads.
“This feedback was also resoundingly echoed in consultation with the development industry as part of this review.
“The current policies are caught in a tangled web of dated and repetitive prescription of our suburbs from 2001.”
The report recommends a review of the Residential Character Study of 2001.
It also calls for an investigation of the full suite of residential zones and schedules.
The majority of the VCAT cases related to subdivisions, multiple dwellings on lots or extensions to dwellings.
Despite concern at the number of residential matters going to VCAT, the City of Greater Bendigo was only involved in nine applications for 2016/17 – down from 45 in 2011/12. The figure was comparable with Ballarat, and significantly lower than Geelong.
Two of the defeats in VCAT related to poker machines at the Foundry Hotel and Bendigo Stadium, the only times the council’s gaming policy was tested.
A strategic review of the policy is currently under way.