Water Changes = More Work for Applicants

A suite of new provisions in the Local Planning Policies will provide additional challenges to large numbers of planning permit applications in several inner city Councils. The Cities of Yarra, Stonnington, Melbourne, Moonee Valley and Port Phillip have had long-standing planning scheme amendments sitting with the Minister awaiting approval.  Although some of these amendments date back to early 2010, on the 13th of March all were gazetted and now mandate Water Sensitive Urban Design policies for consideration when determining planning permit applications within those municipalities.

The policies have been introduced in response to growing awareness that an increase in hard surfaces from new development places substantial pressure on stormwater drainage systems and natural waterways and negatively impacts volumes and quality of stormwater outflows.

The CSIRO prepared a Best Practice document concerning Urban Stormwater and these principles form the basis of the new policies. The CSIRO guidelines aim to, reducing the extent of solid, litter and nutrient runoff into waterways, promote stormwater re-use on the site and minimise off-peak stormwater flows during periods of heavy rainfall.

 The above Councils join the City of Bayside in the implementation of policy that generally applies to any planning permit application for:

  • A new building
  • An extension of greater than 50 sqm or;
  • Subdivision within a commercial zone.

Permit applicants can now expect to be required to supply a “Water Sensitive Design Response” with applications that meet the above criteria. Such a response is likely to be required to include:

    • Plans showing the location and layout of stormwater treatment measures including:
      • The area draining to the treatment measure;
      • Any connection points;
      • Harvesting and reuse measures;
      • Water quality treatment measures;
      • Filtration measures;
      • Passive irrigation measures;
      • Cross sections  of proposed treatment measures;
    • A report outlining how the application achieves the objectives of the policy including:
      • An assessment from an industry accepted performance tool such as STORM or MUSIC;
      • A site management plan confirming how WSUD principles will be upheld during construction;
      • A maintenance program outlining ongoing measures to ensure the effectiveness of the system.

Proponents of these amendments are quick to note that individual Council officers have the ability to vary the requirements (above) ‘as appropriate’ for each application. Clause: 1 has reason to question the extent of ‘reasonable’ discretion that Council planners will apply in practice without robust and prescriptive policy stipulating exemptions.

We at Clause: 1 commend the move to protect and manage stormwater outflows and stormwater quality, but protest that such provisions need not be considered as part of the Planning Process and that the preparation of such costly and detailed plans & reports prior to the issue of a permit is premature.

But, like it or not permit applicants should be aware that these requirements are now incorporated into the above planning schemes and will be appearing on an RFI new you soon.

For full details see:

Yarra Planning Scheme
Clause 22.16 Stormwater Management (Water Sensitive Urban Design)
Stonnington Planning Scheme
Clause 22.18 Stormwater Management (Water Sensitive Urban Design)
Port Phillip Planning Scheme
Clause 22.12 Stormwater Management (Water Sensitive Urban Design)
Melbourne Planning Scheme
Clause 22.23 Stormwater Management (Water Sensitive Urban Design)
Moonee Valley Planning Scheme
Clause 22.03 Stormwater Management (Water Sensitive Urban Design)