Consultation meetings

A consultation meeting is an informal meeting that is scheduled before an application is heard at a formal Internal Development Approvals Committee (IDAC) meeting.

What is the purpose of a consultation meeting?

The purpose of a consultation meeting is for all parties in attendance to get a better understanding of the issues raised in objection letters and to seek resolution where possible. 

It provides an opportunity for objectors and permit applicants to sit down and have a constructive, round-table conversation about:

  • the application
  • how objectors will be affected, and
  • how some objector issues could potentially be resolved through design changes.

Discussion at a consultation meeting is facilitated by council planning officers.

There is no formal resolution at a consultation meeting. In some instances an informal agreement is made between an objector and a permit applicant, which would modify a particular part of an application and assist in alleviating objector concerns. 

Who is invited to attend a consultation meeting? 

Objectors, the permit applicant and ward councillors are invited to attend a consultation meeting.

Objectors

If a consultation meeting is set up by council planning officers, all objectors are invited to attend. You will receive an invitation in the post approximately 10 business days prior to the meeting. You do not need to RSVP to confirm attendance. 

Permit applicant 

If a consultation meeting is set up by council planning officers, you will be invited to attend. You will receive an invitation in the post approximately 10 business days prior to the meeting. 

Anyone from your team can attend the consultation meeting – you, your client and any relevant professional who can actively discuss the proposal and participate in discussion about the objector issues and how the application could be modified to address their concerns. 

Why should I attend a consultation meeting? 

Objectors 

A consultation meeting provides you with an opportunity to discuss the application face-to-face with the permit applicant, explain how it affects you and how some of your concerns could potentially be alleviated or resolved. 

As an objector attending a consultation meeting, you have the opportunity to sit down and discuss the application with the permit applicant, in a discussion facilitated by council planning officers.

Permit applicant 

Your attendance at the consultation meeting is crucial for a round-table conversation with objectors about their concerns on your application to occur.

How is a consultation meeting run?

A consultation meeting is an informal meeting, with all parties seated around a table. It aims to facilitate a constructive, round table discussion between objectors and the permit applicant on the application and the issues raised by objectors in their letter of objection. 

At the start of the meeting, all parties in attendance are reminded to be respectful of each other so that the meeting is effective and constructive.

The meeting is facilitated by a council officer. An attendance sheet is circulated at the start of the meeting so that a record of who has attended the meeting can be kept by council planning officers. Everyone in attendance is asked to check their details on the attendance sheet (to ensure that all future correspondence is sent to the correct address).

Generally in attendance at each consultation meeting are:

  • two council planning officers
  • the permit applicant (which may include a planning consultant, architect, other relevant professional, and client), and
  • Objectors (who have lodged a formal objection to the permit application). 

No formal minutes or transcripts are taken at the meeting. Council planning officers may take informal notes that will assist them in the assessment stage of the application or on any of the agreements reached through the discussions. If you want a record of the meeting and the discussions that have occurred you are welcome to take your own notes.

How are objections addressed at a consultation meeting?

The issues discussed at the consultation meeting are those raised in the objection letters submitted to Yarra Council. 

A summary of the issues raised by objectors in their objection letters will be listed on a white board. Addressing each issue in turn will allow the meeting to run efficiently and effectively within the 1 hour allocated timeframe. 

Generally, the council officer facilitating the meeting will:

  • invite each person in attendance to provide their name and where they live (to provide context)
  • invite the permit applicant to provide a brief overview of the application (usually 5 minutes)
  • facilitate an open and constructive discussion around the issues and concerns raised in the objection letters
  • make notes including any commitments actively made between objectors and the permit applicant
  • close the meeting and advise all objectors sitting at the table on the next steps of the application process.

All objection letters are provided to the permit applicant prior to the consultation meeting. 

Objectors attending the meeting are therefore encouraged to use the meeting to:

  • summarise their main issues / concerns (and not read from their objection letter)
  • not reiterate (not discuss at length) issues already raised by other objectors at the meeting
  • suggest any modifications to the application that could go some way to alleviate their concerns.

Throughout the consultation meeting it is expected that all parties in attendance are respectful of each other in the way that they speak, behave and conduct themselves. 

How can I prepare for a consultation meeting? 

Objectors 

All objection letters are provided to the permit applicant prior to the consultation meeting. Hard copies of all objections are also kept on the relevant planning file which is available at the meeting. You do not therefore need to bring a copy of your objection letter or read directly from it. You just need to be able to talk to the issues and concerns that you have on the application and how it would impact you and be open to discussing possible modifications to the application that could alleviate your concerns.

Permit applicants 

Make sure that you have obtained copies of the objection letters prior to the meeting so that you are informed of the objector issues prior to the meeting. You can obtain copies by contacting the relevant planning officer or statutory planning business support, quoting the planning application reference number and the site address. 

To be prepared for the meeting, we recommend: 

  • Being able to talk to the plans and explain the submitted design response.
  • Bringing a large copy (to scale) of the plans for discussion purposes at the meeting.
  • Bringing people in your project team that can discuss possible modifications to the submitted application which could assist in alleviating objector concerns.
  • Bringing your client to the meeting so that they can get a better understanding of the issues and concerns raised in the objection letters.

What decisions are made at a consultation meeting?  

There is no determination of an application at a consultation meeting. The purpose of the meeting is for all parties in attendance to gain a better understanding of the issues raised in the objection letters and to have an open and constructive discussion around the issues and possible solutions.

However, in some instances an informal agreement is made between an objector and a permit applicant on a way forward which would modify a particular part of an application and assist in alleviating objector concerns. 

At the end of each consultation meeting, council planning officers will verbally provide a brief overview of any commitments made at the meeting and the next steps for the determination of the application.

What happens after a consultation meeting?

If the permit applicant lodges amended plans following the consultation meeting these may be re-notified to objector parties. 

A full assessment of the application will be made by council planning officers and all objectors to the application (even those who did not to attend the consultation Meeting) are kept abreast of the application by being advised of amended plans lodged or by being invited to attend an IDAC meeting. 

Prior to any IDAC meeting, all parties (the permit applicant and objectors) will be sent details of the IDAC meeting and details of how to review the Officer Report and Officer Recommendation on our website. 

When are consultation meetings held?

Consultation meetings are arranged by council planning officers. Each meeting can last up to one hour and are held in a meeting room at Richmond Town Hall. 

Consultation meetings are usually on a Tuesday night between:

  • 6pm - 7pm
  • 7.15pm - 8.15pm, or 
  • 8.30pm - 9.30pm.