Council invests $1.19m into Planning resources and new initiatives

Published on 23 June 2022

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To meet the needs of the Shire’s rapidly growing population, Baw Baw Shire Council will invest $1.19 million into resources and new initiatives to enhance key services, including Statutory Planning, Enforcement, Infrastructure Planning and major Strategic Planning.   

Baw Baw Shire Council is amongst the fastest growing regional areas in Victoria. The extraordinary rate of development presents significant planning challenges, both in managing application processing times, and in managing the tensions between the real need for housing development and the desirability of lifestyle and environment that Baw Baw has to offer.  

These challenges are heightened by a COVID-impacted labour market and a shortage of skilled planners. 

Council’s 2022/23 Annual Budget includes decisive steps to address these challenges.  

Under recently appointed Director Planning and Development Leanne Hurst, Council is refreshing and refocusing planning services, implementing new resources and initiatives to deal with backlogs, enhance customer service, communication with applicants and attention to timeframes.   

This investment includes but is not limited to:  

  • A Senior Strategic Planner to provide additional resourcing within the Strategic Planning team.
  • A DCP and Subdivision Officer to provide greater capacity in Priority Development and expand the delivery capability of the current service.
  • Strategic Planning Administration to provide enhanced administrative support to the strategic planning service. 
  • An Open Space Planner to provide for the planning and provision of open space assets.
  • A Targeted review of PSP specific provisions to engage a Traffic Engineer to review of the cross sections in both PSPs and assess its suitability.
  • A Significant Vegetation Protection Project identifying significant vegetation throughout the municipality that would warrant protection through the Baw Baw planning scheme.
  • Environmental planning officer to enable the internal planning referral function to meet increased number of planning applications, to ensure increased response times for environmental assessments.
  • An IT upgrade for Statutory Planning of $30,000 to enhance processing efficiencies by upgrading workflow programs and integrated systems. 

Implementation of the new resources and initiatives will be phased in over the 2022/23 financial year. 

To learn more about the 2022/23 Annual Budget and the range of investments Council is making to build a better Baw Baw in the year ahead, visit 2022-23 Annual Budget.

Quote attributable to Mayor Cr Michael Leaney 

“Council has received feedback from community groups and the development sector. We know there are things we can do better. We are acting on that feedback. The proof is in this budget. 

This $1.2m investment in new resources and initiatives demonstrates Council’s commitment to improved service delivery for the current and future residents of Baw Baw Shire. 

We have a great team of planners, engineers, technical experts and administrative support. They are facing an extraordinary volume of planning requests in a challenging development environment. 

The challenges are real and it will take some time to implement these changes and for the differences to be felt on the ground. But ultimately this investment is aimed at realistic improvement and a better customer experience over time.”   

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