40 – Development applications that get planning permits

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By Justin Gehde. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.
Today on the show we are going to be talking planning, with a highly experienced planning consultant, and I think you will pick up lots of tips from our discussion. My guest is town planner David Crowder from Ratio. David has more than 25 years’ experience in town planning. He specialises in statutory planning and providing expert evidence before Victoria’s planning tribunal and Planning Panels forums. And as you will hear, David was an expert witness we called in our failed VCAT case. So we share a few battle scars. Planning is obviously a critical phase of a development project, and the outcome of a planning application sets the course for the project, so getting it right or at least getting an outcome you can live with, is extremely important. And I, of all people, fully understand that now. David and I discuss why town planners are important, ways to avoid making planning mistakes, and lessons David has learned along the way about how to deal with councils and objectors, and the many other challenges that pop up along the way… I hope it helps you to achieve a permit sooner on your next planning application. In some ways I find the planning process a bit like dark magic, unless you are doing a simple cookie cutter approach to the site, with lots of precedence in the area, there’s a witches brew of ingredients that go into a planning decision and you never quite know how it might turn out. There are a lot of moving parts and a lot of variables, particularly the human emotions that may get stirred up. Anyway, here are three lessons I took out of my discussion with David… Lessons for real estate developers 1. Consider the strategic policy support and context of your site This is the bedrock for how your application should be viewed by the council planner. If you are proposing something well outside the policy context for the site, then you will have little or no chance of getting a permit. But if you stay within the expectations of the policy you should be okay, though not always, as I found out the hard way. Unfortunately sometimes there are competing elements within a policy context such as encouraging growth but still respecting the neighbourhood character, and that’s where tension is created. And in our case, character won out… 2. Be aware of any proposed changes to zoning in your area Planning zones seem to be pretty dynamic, and councils are forever tweaking and amending parts of their suburbs, so be aware of impending changes. This could impact on what you want to do, and how a council planner may consider your application. They may have one eye on the future state of the area, and informally assess your application through that lens. I know in our case, there was a change to the area’s zoning that came in after we submitted our planning application, yet the local councillor made mention to the planning scheme changes that came into play when knocking us back, and I think it also weighed on the decision by the tribunal member in supporting the council’s decision. So be ready to adapt to changes that may be coming. 3. Try to avoid ending up at a tribunal Having picked up some scars and bullet wounds following our planning tribunal loss, my advice is to try and avoid going there if you can. In some ways it is a lottery as to the result you get, and it slows down your momentum and takes up time. That’s not to say that you should cede more than you are prepared to, but be aware of all the risks and costs. If you can, try to work with council to get a permit you can live with. If you enjoyed that planning chat then delve into the archives and listen to episode 20 with town planner Craig Christie where he provides some planning tips for property developers, or episode 12 with developer John Marquez where he talks about his failed trip to the planning tribunal. And you can see all my latest property development photos and videos on Instagram (https://www.instagram.

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