Council decides against planning policy review

The community satisfaction survey showed residents want better sealed roads.

No changes will be made to the way Macedon Ranges council handles planning applications before October’s election.

Cr Russell Mowatt couldn’t get the support last Wednesday he needed for his motion seeking a report into bringing back a planning committee in the next council term.

Another motion from Cr Jennifer Anderson, which sought immediate changes to the process that delegates decision-making to officers, also failed to get up.

Both motions prompted lengthy debate, with councillors including Roger Jukes and John Letchford supporting the current system, whereby applications that have prompted objections can be ‘‘called in’’ to council.

Cr Jukes said planning processes were bound to be looked at by the new council, while Cr Henry McLaughlin said it would be unfair to commit a new council to a process ‘‘in the sunset of our term’’.

But with permit applications accelerating since the current council was elected in 2012, Cr Mowatt said councillors need to be sure that decision-making processes were working well.

‘‘As an organisation and council, we need to be employing a process whereby we are continuously improving our methods,’’ he said.

Cr Anderson said it would be more open and transparent if objections to planning matters were brought to committee meetings.

‘‘It’s a good thing to do and it should be done now,’’ she said.

Cr Jukes said he had seen nothing to suggest the current system was not working.

‘‘This process will be looked at by the new council,’’ he said.

‘‘Why order a review in our last six months?’’

Cr Mowatt said the council was missing out on a great opportunity to show leadership and vision.

‘‘I get people ringing up saying what happened, we didn’t get a chance to have our say,’’ he said.

‘‘People out there are unhappy.’’