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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Re-zoning Drysdale & Clifton Springs (5)

On April 14, the Planning Panel appointed to review the City of Greater Geelong's proposal to re-zone parts of Drysdale & Clifton Springs held its first meeting - a 'Directions Hearing' - at Geelong's City Hall.

The Panel consists of Ms. Gaye McKenzie (Chair) and Ms. Sue Porter. Each is an expert on planning issues and has considerable experience of Planning Panels. Anyone associated with, or affected by the re-zoning proposals had been invited to the 'Directions Hearing', which aimed to explain the Panel's purpose, to explain how it will work and to answer any questions.

The City of Greater Geelong's re-zoning proposals take the form of two Amendments - C103 and C194 - to the Greater Geelong Planning Scheme. For the background, see earlier articles on this blog: 'Rezoning Drysdale & Clifton Springs', 'Rezoning Drysdale 1', 'Re-zoning Drysdale 2' and Rezoning Drysdale 3'.

It became clear that poor administration by the state government's Department of Planning and Community Development had prevented many people from participating in the Planning Panel process. Several people said that it was only on Tuesday 13 April that they had received a letter from the Department inviting them to attend the 'Directions Hearing' and to submit an application to appear before the Panel when it meets in May. However, the deadline for applications to appear before the Panel was 12 April - the day before they had received their invitations and just four working days after the Department had posted them! This was unreasonable and very unfair, especially on people with no experience of Planning Panel procedures, who may wish to ask advice before deciding what to do.

Fortunately, DCSCA received its letter of invitation on 7 April. We explained the difficulties of the deadline to the Planning Panel Administrator, who told us that applications to appear before the Panel would be accepted until the start of week begining Monday April 19.

The Panel will meet next on May 12-14 at Geelong's City Hall to hear all the proposals for change and the various submissions that they generated. At the 'Directions Hearing', both members of the Panel - especially Ms. McKenzie - worked hard to put people at the ease and to explain technicalities and jargon. This bodes well for how the May hearings will be conducted. At some point during the hearings, the Panel will visit Drysdale & Clifton Springs to inspect the areas that are the subject of the proposed re-zoning. The Panel will invite anyone who has made a submission to accompany them on their visit.

After the Panel hearings in May, the Panel has six weeks to write a report to the city of Greater Geelong, containing its recommendations about each of the two Amendments. Four weeks after the Council receives the report, it will make it available to everyone who made a submission and to the general public.

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