Third party rights back in spotlight

Third party planning notification and appeal rights for CBD residents are back on the agenda.

The panel which last year examined the latest central city controls, Amendment C270, recommended that the issue be looked at again.

In its October 26 report to the Minister for Planning, the panel said the issue was outside the scope of what it was asked to do on C270 but warranted further consideration.

Under the current arrangement, residents within the Capital City Zone are not required to be notified of planning applications that may affect them and they don’t have appeal rights.

The traditional rationale for this arrangement is that granting residents rights would impede the development of the capital city.

Planning expert Prof Michael Buxton had contended to the panel: “The rights of Melbourne’s CBD residents under the Capital City Zone arguably have been the most seriously disadvantaged of any group in Victoria.”

The panel, comprising Brett Davis (chair), Jenny Moles, Jim Holdsworth and Katherine Navarro, pointed out that the CBD had fundamentally changed since the 1990s.

“While it continues to be a place for government, business, retail and entertainment, some two decades later the CBD now has a substantial resident population – in large part encouraged by the council’s Postcode 3000 campaign,” it said.

“The CBD can no longer be viewed as a place where residents are few and transitory – predominantly tertiary students, overseas and interstate visitors. Rather there are and will continue to be tens of thousands of residents living permanently in the CBD.”

“It has become a residential neighbourhood for that community. It is only to be expected that the residents will become increasingly disenchanted about the absence of opportunity for formal input to decisions affecting their neighbourhood.”

“While any recommended changes to third party rights in relation to central city development applications would go beyond the scope of the exhibited amendment, the panel suggests that this is a matter which warrants further consideration and possible future action.”

However, the suggestions from the panel have fallen on deaf ears, with the State Government refusing to entertain the idea.

A spokesperson for acting Planning Minister Lisa Neville said: "The are no plans to change the long-standing appeal rules in place for CBD developments."

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