Wednesday, September 8, 2010

To intervene or to not intervene...
I understand that asking the Planning Minister to intervene in a local issue might sound a little strange - but this is what I did on behalf of residents in Strathmore last night at Council. The background explains why.
In 2007, the Planning Minister intervened to put an Interim Heritgae Overlay over parts of Moonee Valley. Like all Interim HO, the idea was to protect homes while consultation took place on a Heritage Planning Amendment.
Following consultation, Council decided that Strathmore did not warrant Heritage protection. But the Minister would not agree to removing the Overlay until further information was provided. Council took its time providing further information, but has finally done so. for the third time, last night we asked the Planning Minister to please remove the Interim HO.
However, rather than the Interim HO being removed through a reversal of the Intervention process, Council has been asked to go through the Amendment process - a process that normally takes months. Even with an exemption from consultation, the timeline is usually longer than the 6-8 weeks we are hoping for.
We have received verbal assurances that the Interim HO will be removed - and I am confident that these have been made in good faith and that residents will finally have the Interim HO taken off their homes.
However, there are some important lessons from this: a) all Interim HOs need to have a sunset clause that operates to remove the IHO when a decision on the HO is made; b) Ministerial interventions to achieve a positive outcome for residents are considered politically risky; c) a Minister standing for election walks a difficult path between executive responsibility and political imperative - and therefore residents miss out.

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