Here is a list of Action Steps suggested by Residents, in no particular order, we would like to be able to add to this, you can do so below in the comments box:
- We want Council to conduct a Neighbourhood Character study like the Banyule Council, Frankston Council, Maroondah City Council and others – defining the areas and characteristics we need to protect?
- We want council officers to refer to, and read carefully the Planning Scheme and associated amendments (studies, statements of significance, overlays, documentation, plans etc) and be accountable for carrying them out effectively, this may include education and training for council officers and Councillors,
- We want Council to provide council officers with effective education and training around the contents of the Planning schemes and associated amendments, and also education and training to run more effective meditations where residents feel they are a valuable part of the process, not just an impediment,
- We want Council to promote the protection of vegetation and enforce fines for cutting down trees and clearing land,
- We want Council to appoint a neutral Planning Advocate to guide residents in the planning process,
- We want Council to commence a study of Neighbourhood Character for Ballarat East,
- We want Council to revise 2006 Statement of Significance and enforce it (we are trying to source this document),
- We want Council to implement the 2008 Ballarat Open Space Strategy and use tools already available to support good sustainable design and development in our area i.e. vigilance regarding the protection of public open space,
- We want Council to look at their public information and communications policy, we fear residents are not clearly made aware of the democratic process, and how they can be supported to play their part,
- We want Council, with support from residents, to define areas which may have more appropriate size blocks eg larger blocks in the transition area to Canadian State Forest, smaller blocks the closer you get to CBD. With this we want to ensure larger blocks follow the Neighborhood Character close to the forest and surrounds, large blocks, one dwelling, lots of private open space and native vegetation,
- We want Council to run Workshops with Councillors/residents/communities to discuss planning issues – especially Ballarat East which has a history and a Neighbourhood Character to protect and enhance,
- We want to work with the Council to introduce a more effective consultation process prior to permit application, and before decisions are made (i.e. meetings of Residents/Council staff and Developer), and to revise the language of the process to reduce the adversarial flavour (eg residents are ‘residents with suggestions’, not ‘objectors’)
- We want Council policies to refine the definitions of and differences between design & architecture,
- We want Council to improve the promotion and marketing of proposed development so that more feedback can be obtained, which would result in more appropriate developments,
- We want Council to work with residents and the Department of Sustainability to identify and protect green belts in our city, particularly in Ballarat East sitting the entrance to Ballarat,
- We want Council to reinstate a Planning Enforcement Officer to ensure all developments are completed in line with additional conditions and to tidy up developments,
- We want Council to revise the Council web-site to ensure easier navigate and ability to information,
- We want Council to more carefully consider traffic flows when a development is proposed, not just rubber stamping
- We want Council to review lighting, utilities, piping, and infrastructure when proposing development for housing and to investigate the effect on existing houses.
We then asked Councillors present to respond to this suggestions. We appreciate that we gave them a short space of time, and that their presentation was not about definites nor promises, it was about beginning a process. Cr Ben Taylor and Cr Des Hudson presented after having ten minutes to look at the above:
Councillor Hudson: Congratulated residents and thanked everyone for coming. He commented that there needed to be dialogue over time, and that Council was on side. He commented that Council has seen growth in Ballarat West, and in Ballarat East there could be different opinions and growth. Council is interpreting State Legislation and Council want to ensure the health of Ballarat East
Councillor Taylor: Congratulated residents and thanked everyone for coming. What defines Ballarat East, who is the community and who represents it? In some communities our sporting groups and football teams create a community hub, in the East where is our community hub? How can you disseminate information to people who want it, with passion and consistency you get the right outcomes.
Councillor Hudson and Councillor Taylor said that out of approximately 15 issues that we need to work through in such a short time we have discussed the following:
- That Council Officers will look at the problems of navigating through the Ballarat City Council web site.
- Councillors receive information about new developments, weekly, that are advertised on the yellow signs outside proposed land developments. Residents could get that information by having it linked to the Council website. Council staff could organise this.
- Planning Advocate. An information kit for objectors could possibly be produced.
- Advisory committee for planning can be established for residents to discuss neighbourhood character.
- With respect to the orphanage site, a subcommittee could be formed to discuss the issues.
- Council has a position of Planning Enforcement Officer (currently vacant). Once employed this could be a useful resource for residents.
- To ensure all work is completed with respect to an approved development a system whereby a bond, as a % of total worth could be lodged, and then when completed the bond is returned. That is, as noted by Councillor Taylor, if this is possible in law.
- Councillor Taylor made a comment that green belts are linkages of creeks and open spaces. They enhance the area, and strengthen linkages and the Ballarat Open Space Strategy will be adopted soon by Council.
- Councillor Hudson commented that there is a State Register of significant trees, but a Ballarat register could be developed and placed on the Council website.
Councillor Taylor discussed that there two types of developments (backyard and large parcels) and that Councillors cannot be involved in them all e.g. Richard Street. The environment is there to be developed but we need to control it. Do we need an overlay and will it be successful? In the end the government needs to sign off on an overlay and they may not approve it such as in the case of Miners Rest and Cardigan. Councillor Taylor also stated that overall neighbourhood character needs to be defined.
From here BE Net will ensure all Councillors have this information and will support a way ahead with some of these options. Also feel free to add your ideas below in the comments box (please be aware this is a moderated forum).