Members will remember receiving a letter from the Shire in May 2012 advising each property owner of the proposed Amendment C78 to the Planning Scheme.
This was a Shire-wide amendment, covering a variety of items across much of the Planning Scheme – some relevant to the Aireys Inlet District and many not. It was described as a “tidying-up” exercise intended to reduce large areas of duplication and ambiguity in the Planning Scheme.
The locally relevant parts included changes to the Environmental Significance Overlay, Design and Development Overlay and Neighbourhood Character Overlay. Like so many amendments to the Planning Scheme, these proposals were complex and technical, and AIDA received several queries from members seeking to clarify what it meant and what should be done.
To AIDA’s concern, some of the proposed changes appeared to give more discretion and a softening of our hard-won local Neighbourhood Character provisions, which had been designed to protect the informal, naturally vegetated character of residential areas. In the AIDA Committee’s view, discretion and softening are the last things needed based on the continuing attempts we see in many planning permit applications to ignore local Neighbourhood Character objectives by removing vegetation, reducing setbacks, over-developing sites, exceeding the height limit, sealing driveways and installing swimming pools, etc. etc.
Therefore AIDA made a submission in June seeking the retention in the Planning Scheme of the full itemised description of what constitutes local Neighbourhood Character, and also of the reference document Aireys Inlet to Eastern View Neighbourhood Character Study and Vegetation Assessment (2004), as without these, it would be difficult or impossible in the future for either applicants, the Council or VCAT to understand what the local Neighbourhood Character objectives were designed to achieve.
On 20 August 2012 we were pleased to be advised both these important items will now be recommended for retention in the Planning Scheme.