At this time of year Councils across the state will implement ‘blackout periods’, restricting the advertising of planning applications over the holiday season. The dates and restrictions of the ‘blackouts’ vary significantly from Council to Council.
Permit applicants should contact their relevant Council for details, but here is an example of what some Councils have already announced will not count towards the normal 14 day public notification period.
Casey: December 15th 2020 – January 4th 2021
Melbourne: December 7th 2020 – January 8th 2021
Stonnington: December 21st 2020 – February 10th 2021
Maribyrnong: December 2nd 2020 – January 28th 2021
Moonee Valley: December 4th 2020 – January 11th 2021
During these dates most Councils will not count the ‘blackout’ days as part of the required advertising period. This generally means sign(s) must be maintained on site for all of the ‘blackout’ date plus 14 days.
In some instances, Council’s require the sign(s) to be erected for 14 ‘continuous’ days (not including the blackout dates). In such circumstances, if your sign is erected 10 days prior to the blackout period, remains up over the black period and is required to be maintained for 14 ‘continuous’ days after the blackout period, your sign will be erected for nearly 6 weeks.
As a result of the elongated advertising period, it is often in an applicant’s best interests to not erect the sign on site until after the blackout period has ended.
It is noteworthy that the Planning and Environment Act does not authorise Council to ‘blackout’ days over the Christmas period. Despite that, VCAT regularly supports the notion of ‘blackout’ periods when issuing Orders that require advertising over the holiday season.
Clause 1 is of the opinion that the inconsistency in ‘blackout’ periods across Victorian municipalities and the lack legislative support for these ‘blackout’ periods has created a confusing, frustrating and unnecessary time delay for permit applicants.
Practitioners should be aware that the ‘blackout’ period can be added to the 60 day statutory timeframe and Councils that enforce ‘blackout’ periods over the Christmas break could be inadvertently exposing themselves to ‘failure’ appeals from more-aggressive applicants and may well find themselves liable for the associated VCAT-appeal fees.
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