Once upon a time, many years ago, the town planning process in Victoria was treated like every other legal proceeding – planning applications were submitted for approval, planning departments had sufficient autonomy to make decisions without referring to elected officials, and objections were only permitted if they could point to areas in which an application transgressed planning guidelines.
Alas, this fair and logical system was eventually corrupted by the villainous political machine. A decision was made that the planning environment should become less legalistic in order to encourage community involvement, and voila! The modern [sic] planning process was born.
Today, architects and owners must suffer through a tortuous system defined by fuzzy regulations, governed by under-experienced and overly-cautious town planners and threatened at all times by neighbours, resident action groups and other “interested” parties possessing not even a rudimentary understanding of the relevant regulations.
There is something terribly wrong with a town planning process, a process that is after all charged with the responsibility of shaping the future of our built environment, that permits neighbours, conservative to the hilt and the originators of the NIMBY paradigm, to hold planning applications to ransom over the smallest of details or nothing at all.
If the Honourable Matthew Guy truly wishes to make a positive mark in his role as Victoria’s Minister for Planning, we suggest he revise the current scheme to eliminate subjective guidelines, entitle trained planning professionals to make fair and a-political decisions and, crucially, strip the great unwashed masses of their power to derail considered and compliant planning applications… Surely, a happily ever after for the planning process and for architecture.