Council Officers mislead public

Serious concern that that the City of Melbourne Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle and  City of Melbourne Director of Planning Geoff Lawler has mislead the public in response to proposed changes to Melbourne Planning Scheme to be introduced on July 1.

Mr Lawler who failed to present a written report outlining the effect of proposed changes to the planning scheme has compromised the City of Melbourne in the process.

Clause 22.12 of the Melbourne Planning scheme  preamble states

This policy applies to applications for gaming premises in the Mixed Use Zone, Public Use Zone, Public Park and Recreational Zone, Business Zones and Industrial Zones and Docklands Zone. It is noted that gaming premises are prohibited in the Residential 1 Zone

On July 1, Business Zones 1, 2 and 5 will be transferred to new Commercial 1 zone

Under the revised planing  scheme to be introduced on July 1as amended by the Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, Gaming venues will not longer require a planning permit  in the new Commercial 1 zone and will becomes an “as of right use” opening up the possible proliferation of gaming venues adjacent to residential precincts. Gaming venues come under the definition of Retail premises as defined under the the Victorian Planning Scheme.

Self appointed anti gambling advocate and Deputy Chairman of the Melbourne City Councils planning portfolio were oblivious to the impact of the proposed changes.  Councillor Mayne had previously given an undertaking to review the matter and present a report in June but to date has failed to fulfill this undertaking.

When asked where and when a report on impact of the the proposed changes will be presented to Council Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle rejected to notion or suggestion that the Council had given an undertaking to table a written report. Director of Planning Geoff Lawler, sought to deflected criticism of the Council not being informed or advising the public of the impact of the proposed changes.

It is understood that this issue was discussed in an unreported closed session Councillor forum.

Recordings of the City of Melbourne Future Melbourne Committee held on May 14 and June 4

Extract of Minutes FMC held on May 14
Anthony van der Craats, resident, asked the Committee a question in relation to the Minister for Planning’s recently announced changes to the Victorian Planning Scheme, which resulted in the abolition of Business 1 Zones and when will the City of Melbourne be undertaking a review of the schemes? (00:01:30 to 00:02:55 Recording of meeting)

In response to the question raised by Mr van der Craats, the Director City Planning and Infrastructure, Geoff Lawler advised that it is very early days as the rezoning has just been announced. He is currently beginning to understand the process and will bring the information to Councillors once it is fully known.  (00:02:56 to 00:03:40 Recording of meeting)

In response to a question raised by Anthony van der Craats, the Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle advised that as per the previous discussion regarding the zoning changes at the beginning of the meeting the matter will be brought before Council, but cannot guarantee it will be at the June Council meeting.

Given the 1 July 2013 deadline the Council will be pressing to make sure this is as expeditious as possible  (01:06:30 to 01:08:04 Recording of meeting)

Call for all Licensed premises and Gaming venues to be subject to a full and proper planning process

Currently under Melbourne’s Planning Scheme “Licensed premises and Gaming Venues” are included in the blanket definition of Retail Premises under the Victorian Planning Scheme.

The definition of a Retail Premise includes Food and Drink premises (Hotels Taverns, licensed resturants) and Gaming venues (Poker machines). 
In 2006 the Labor State government subjected Gaming venues to the planning process and required them to obtain a planning permit by including Gaming venues in the definition of Retail Premises.
The current a Business 1 zone require Retail Premises to obtain planning permit.

On July 1,  Business 1, 2 and 5 zones will be rolled up into a new Commercial 1 zone and Retail Premises, apart from a sex shop, become an “As of right of use” will no longer require a permit. Gaming and other licensed venues will no not be subjected to proper planning control.

Local Council’s and the community will  be denied the right to object to the use and establishment of a gaming venue and other licensed premises that come under the umbrella of the definition of Retail Premises within the new Commercial zone.

Community groups are calling for an immediate change to address this issue

Residents of Melbourne South Yarra are effected mostly by this isssue and are fighting the establishment of a licensed restaurant/tavern in Domain Rd falls is within a Business 1 zone. On July 1 this zone will become a Commercial 1 zone  and with it they will no longer have the right to object to establihsment of a tavern or gaming venue in the new zone.

The City of Melbourne Gaming overlay will not apply as Retail premises (Including Taverns and Gaming venues) will no longer  be required to obtain a planning permit as a result of the new blanket exemptions.
A more responsible and preferable solution to planning would be to remove Gaming venues and other licensed premises  from the blanket definition of Retail premises and establish a new category “Licensed premise” (including Gaming venues) and subject all licensed premises to a proper and full planning process