Council reviewing planning scheme

MITCHELL Shire Council has completed the first stage of reviewing the Mitchell Planning Scheme, with councillors unanimously adopting the review report at last Monday night’s council meeting.

The meeting was the last before council entered the caretaker period in the lead-up to the October 24 local council elections on Tuesday.

The two-stage project sees the preparation of the report, followed by a subsequent planning scheme amendment to implement key findings from the report. The report will also be sent to Minister for Planning Richard Wynne.

The amendment will introduce changes to the Mitchell Planning Scheme including a new Municipal Planning Strategy and Planning Policy Framework.

The Mitchell Planning Scheme is council’s overarching document which informs planning decisions within the shire and can only be amended with the approval of the Minister for Planning.

A review of the Mitchell Planning Scheme was last completed in 2012 and gazetted at the end of 2013.

Since the last review, council has adopted several major planning scheme amendments, including township structure plans for Kilmore, Wallan and Wandong-Heathcote Junction.

The 200-page report assesses the performance of the current Mitchell Planning Scheme based on decisions on planning permit applications, including those made by VCAT; reports from Planning Panels Victoria in relation to recent planning scheme amendments; consistency between existing state and local planning policies; existing zones and overlays; and Local Government Victoria community satisfaction surveys.

The review found the Mitchell Planning Scheme performed well since 2012, with less than one per cent of planning permit applications proceeding to VCAT, but identified that more resources were needed in council’s planning department due to the rapid growth of the shire.

It also found several planning issues which had emerged since the last review, relating to the increase in population and a need to plan for the impact of climate change.

Council officers anticipate the process of amending the Mitchell Planning Scheme to begin later this year or in early 2021.

Then Councillor Rob Eldridge said the document was one of the most important that he had come across in his time as councillor.

“What it encapsulates is a lot of what this council has been working towards and makes it enforceable in law and through our planning scheme,” he said.

Then Councillor Rhonda Sanderson said the report also included strategic work.

“Things such as strengthening our neighbourhood character criteria to issues that have come up to council such as tiny houses,” she said.

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