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The Commissioner for Better Regulation's foreword to the final report for her review into planning and building approval processes.

The Planning and Building Approvals Process Review was established in March 2019 to look in detail at how the current system could be streamlined to reduce delays and unnecessary costs and to increase the focus on the quality of outcomes. After extensive consultation with stakeholder groups and councils, the Review’s Discussion Paper was released in October 2019, identifying a wide range of opportunities for improvement. We have now reviewed the extensive feedback provided by stakeholders and finalised this report to Government, making 27 recommendations which include specific actions.

I would like to thank the members of the Advisory Board, Bill Kusznirczuk, Kate Roffey and Radley De Silva for their wise counsel and valuable contributions. It was a pleasure to work with each of them and the report benefited from their expertise. 

Part 1 of this report sets out these recommendations and actions into five separate programs to reduce delays and costs, grouped together for coordinated delivery. Many will require close co-operation between DELWP and councils.

Part 2 identifies the priorities for immediate action by key agencies as part of these programs.

Part 3 sets out a complete list of the 27 recommendations and the actions required to implement them. Part 4 contains a discussion of each recommendation including the existing issues it addresses, a summary of stakeholder feedback on the improvements proposed in the Discussion Paper and the way in which those proposals have been refined.

The terms of reference sought advice on both short and medium-term opportunities to streamline planning processes. Our recommended actions have therefore been sorted into those that can be commenced in 2020 and those that may take longer.

The scale and speed of reform efforts will depend on additional resources being made available to deliver the recommended reforms.

One of the major challenges in reforming these systems is the many decision-makers and decision-making parts across the approvals spectrum. Councils and referral authorities have a substantial role in the approvals process and thus are the focus of much of this report.

From our consultation with the many councils that made submissions it is clear that councils are aware of the opportunities to improve their operations and that many have already made significant efforts to address them. What is needed is for best practices to become common practice, reforming the rules and simplifying processes along the entire approvals chain. Councils have demonstrated themselves eager and capable of driving these changes – in addition to the many examples of best practice mentioned in the Discussion Paper, submissions highlighted further good examples, many of which are noted in this report.

The terms of reference specify the goal of this Review as reducing unnecessary delays and costs without compromising the intent of the regulations to deliver quality outcomes for the community. The recommendations in this report are consistent with this goal and have the potential to deliver significant improvements in the approval system’s effectiveness and efficiency and to boost Victoria’s productivity.

Anna Cronin
Commissioner for Better Regulation
Red Tape Commissioner