Questions 6 December 2016

Question taken on notice at the Ordinary Council Meeting of Tuesday 6 December 2016 

7.1 Ms Virginia Dods - Heritage


In relation to the community meeting that was held on Thursday 17 November, one of the topics raised was in relation to the heritage in the City of Yarra. I would like to ask Council the following questions raised at the community meeting:

1. That Council provide a budget breakdown as to the funding currently being provided for the heritage advice through the employment of consultants and contractors, including those that appear at VCAT.

2. That Council assess the total value of heritage for use in statutory decision making in relation to development and for applications during strategic planning.

3. That all heritage advisors for Council be required to declare in writing any potential or actual conflict of interests with parties to the development before they become involved in discussions in relation to the proposed development.

4. That the Heritage Advisor’s full report in relation to any planning application, rather than simply be an extract, as currently happens, be provided from the heritage advisor to Councillors for IDAC meetings and be placed on the Yarra Council website to ensure transparency and the public can review that report.

5. That heritage advice be sought in relation to planning applications at the commencement of the planning process.

6. That the community be notified as soon as a developer commences discussions with Council, and that the developer be encouraged to undertake genuine engagement with the community at an early stage of the proposal.

7. That all applications for development within heritage overlays be heard by Council’s Internal Development Approvals Committee (IDAC).

8. That all applications for large development of properties within heritage overlays require a Conservation Management Plan before Council can accept the application.

9. That all applications for development of properties within heritage overlays require a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) before Council can accept the application, which will reduce contestability and streamline decision making.

10. That the Heritage Advisory Committee members and others with an interest in heritage be asked to provide examples of effective models of heritage advisers placed within Councils.

Just to clarify, the timelines into receiving a response to the questions I have raised, going forward, do we need to have a representative from the Yarra Coalition Group present at the Council meetings to ensure the process continues?

Officer response at the meeting

The Mayor took the questions on notice and advised Ms Dods that the response will be provided to both the Yarra Residents Coalition Group and Heritage Advisory Committee.

The Chief Executive Officer also advised that some of the responses to the questions raised can be provided to the Heritage Advisory Committee that is meeting on Monday 12 December and that some of the other questions will need further consideration due to the strategic and policy issues. Councillors will also be provided with the responses to the questions (the questions with the straight forward responses i.e. budget breakdown). Going forward perhaps at the Heritage Advisory Committee it can be discussed on the best way forward on how and what would be the best way for the Yarra Residents Coalition Group to engage with Council and vice-versa rather than a representative attending a Council meeting.

Additional officer response

The Director Planning and Place Making has since written to Ms Dods to provide additional information, including (but not limited to):

  • Heritage is one of the triggers an application may require a planning permit. Council has to balance all relevant planning policies when making an assessment of an application.
  • Council’s heritage advisors are already required to put in writing any potential or actual conflicts of interest to the Manager Statutory Planning.
  • Council has already commenced amending the IDAC templates to include all referrals not just heritage as an attachment to the report.  This has commenced a few months ago and the office is arranging for all IDAC reports.
  • Applications are referred to all relevant departments at the beginning of the planning process – once any further information required by the planning office has been received then referrals are sent out to various parts of Council including the heritage consultants.
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