Due to the complexity and demands on the use of land, there are various types of town planners all consisting of different roles and responsibilities such as strategic town planners, transport town planners, social planners and rural and regional planners. Therefore, it is important to know what they do as they all play a vital role when it comes to making decisions for proposed land uses and developments.
Town planners are also known as urban and rural planners and are professionals who are at the heart of managing the process of development across our suburbs, towns and rural spaces. In order to ensure the land and development around us functions properly as social, economic and environmentally friendly spaces, a planner guides development through many aspects such as contributions towards policy writing and policy assessments.
What do town planners do?
The most common type of town planner you will liaise with is a statutory town planner. Statutory town planners in Melbourne collaborate with other professionals such as engineers, surveyors, local communities and stakeholders. They assess land use and development proposals against local and state policies associated with planning permit applications. Statutory town planners can work in either the private sector as a town planning consultant or in the public sector for local government. Both abide by the requirements of the Planning and Environment Act 1987.
A private town planning consultant will assist you from the beginning of your project providing advice, liaising with other consultants, assessing your application against the relevant state and local policies and preparing your planning permit application for Council lodgement. A town planning consultant can act also as the middle person managing the sub-consultants such as arborists, traffic engineers, architects/designers and land surveyors and relay the information back to the clients and local government town planners. They work with all parties involved to ensure that your proposal has the best chance of success possible.
A Council statutory town planner reviews land use and development applications to ensure that applications comply with State and Local policies. They also liaise with internal departments within Council and external authorities to ensure that the proposal meets relevant standards and requirements, whilst also assessing the views of objectors in order to prepare a decision for a planning permit application.
Why & when do I need a town planner
Advice at the pre-application stage
Whether you are a regular property developer or it is your first time developing, it is important you seek the advice of a town planning consultant during the pre-application stage of your project. If you are planning to change the use of a site or build a development, seeking advice from a town planner early on regarding your proposal against the current controls will assist you to determine if your project is feasible. Town planners in Melbourne are equipped with the relevant background knowledge and understanding of the local government requirements and will be able to advise you on the changes before an application is lodged to Council.
If there are foreseeable obstacles with your project, they will be able to highlight these to prevent you submitting a proposal which may not be favourable for approval. Town planning consultants where necessary can also organise a meeting with a Council planner to gauge Council’s perspective of your application and if it could be possible to be supported in its current form or if changes are required prior to the lodgement of your application.
Town Planning Report Stage
Town planners can meet with your designer to review your application and then prepare a detailed town planning report assessing your proposal against the Local and State policies. During this process, they will also act as the single point of contact to ensure that all sub-consultant reports and plans align together with the latest set of architectural drawings and the town planning report.
An experienced town planner will assist you to provide as much detail as possible to ensure that the Council town planner has enough information to make an informed decision on your application. The town planning report along with other important documentation will then be lodged to Council.
Liaising with Council and on-going services
After your application has been submitted, a town planning consultant will act as the go-between among the relevant parties and Council. They will relay information back to the client, architect and others involved in the project to ensure that everyone one is up to date throughout the whole process.
If the Council planner requires further information about the planning permit application, they will prepare a written response to the applicant requesting for the further information. Enlisting a town planning consultant to run the application via the Council process is beneficial as they can review the items requested by Council and their preliminary concerns and translate them into a language that you the client, the architect and sub-consultants will understand. The planning consultant will then collate all the required information into one document and prepare a response to the Council planner regarding the further information that they requested.
During this stage, the planning consultant will also be able to assist you throughout the public notice stage and review and respond to any objections or address any other concerns from the Council planner.
The goal of the town planning consultant is to ensure that you receive the best result on your planning application.
The Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal
Due to certain circumstances such as a planning permit refusal, amendments to planning permit conditions or objections lodged to review your planning permit decision, you may be required to attend the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal to review your application by a third party. At this stage, it is important to engage a town planning consultant early on to assist you with the process of appealing to the Tribunal. A town planning consultant will be able to assist to you from the start by reviewing your application and providing feedback of potential issues or concerns that may be raised at the Tribunal. They will also be able to collect all documents for lodgement and continue liasing between yourself, the designer and Council to serve and distribute certain documents under VCAT orders. Furthermore, they can prepare a submission on your behalf and represent your case to the Tribunal.
How Terrain Consulting Group can help you with your application?
Before getting started on a town planning project in Victoria, ensure that you contact the experts at Terrain Consulting Group. For almost 20 years, we have provided efficient and experienced services to our clients ensuring that with our transparent approach we provide you the best result that is possible.