Streamlining for Growth funded the Growth Area Councils Permit Assessment Health Check – an unprecedented and innovative project. This involved a collaboration between the seven Melbourne metropolitan Growth Area Councils, the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA), and Mesh, the consultants appointed to work on the project. The project identifies ways for Council to make good decisions; faster – in alignment with the Streamlining for Growth Program.
The councils recognised at a Best Practice Forum in April 2018, that ‘business as usual’ was not an option and suggested this project be developed. Mesh Planning worked closely with all seven Growth Area Councils to understand each phase of the growth area planning permit assessment process from pre-application to statement of compliance. This work identified where delays occur as well as targeted actions specific to each council.
The action plans developed for each council seek to address the causes of these delays, by improving transparency, clarifying roles and expectations of various parties, and building a greater sense of trust between councils and the development industry. Some actions are best undertaken as a collective of growth area councils, whilst others are best undertaken by the individual council.
Five of the seven Growth Area Councils applied for funding to put in place key actions identified in the Health Check report’s Action Plans.
These projects, identified in collaboration with Growth Area Councils, would be funded as Growth Area Council Health Check Stage 2 – Innovation Sharing & Project Implementation.
The Health Check highlighted several themes where Councils have opportunities for improvement:
- Organisational Scale & Maturity: measure the scale of growth facing each Council and their level of maturity and experience in growth area planning, acknowledging that each Council is different.
- Communication & Culture: compare how Councils communicate both internally and externally, and what the Council ‘culture’ is like based on industry survey results and observation and interviews with Councils, acknowledging that organisational culture influences capability.
- Process: assessment of timeframes taken (using PPARS, SPEAR and Council policies, procedures and results of industry survey).
- Resources: comparison of Councils looking at staff resources and access to and type of technology.
The Growth Area Health Check project provided a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the Melbourne metropolitan Growth Area Councils’ capacity and performance in relation to growth area planning applications. It:
- Reviews the process of assessment of planning permit applications for subdivision in Melbourne’s metropolitan growth areas;
- Collects quantitative and qualitative data that influences application assessment timeframes;
- Establishes a set of meaningful benchmarks by which to review council performance;
- Assesses the capability, capacity and performance of each Growth Area Council against the benchmarks; and
- Develops an action plan for each Council targeted at key areas of improvement.
Growth Area Councils were encouraged to apply for funding to implement projects identified in the Action Plans, and as part of the Growth Area Council Health Check Stage 2 – Innovation Sharing & Project Implementation, in June 2019, 5 of the 7 councils applied for and received a total of $1.39M funding for the projects listed below: