I know that for many Victorians, the first half of 2020 has been extremely challenging, uncertain and disruptive, as a result of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) public health emergency. At times when many restrictions and limitations have been put on the way Victorians can conduct themselves, it has been critical to ensure key functions of government can continue operating.

Victoria must keep moving, building and growing. Transitioning to new ways of working has not stopped the delivery of business as usual work for Victoria’s planning system and our $33 billion building and construction industry. More than ever, here in Victoria, we are open for business.

Planning documents, including scheme amendments and permit applications, are now available online rather than only at council buildings. Planning Panels Victoria can hold their meetings online, and councils are now able to hold virtual meetings to consider planning applications and amendments. The recent establishment of the Building Victoria’s Recovery Taskforce shows the commitment of the Victorian Government to bolstering these industries during times of economic uncertainty. Initially, the Taskforce will focus on fast-tracking planning approvals and streamlining assessment processes.

Priority projects within the Department continue to progress and we are committed to delivering the best outcomes for Victorians through our work. The Distinctive Areas and Landscapes (DALs) consultation program has entered a crucial phase with the Surf Coast DALs plan about to be released for stage 3 engagement while the Bellarine and Bass Coast plans have just completed their stage 2 community consultation. Consultation on another key project, the Green Wedge Agricultural Land discussion paper will commence soon. It is remarkable to see how rapidly the community and sector consultation can move to the online space and continue to deliver results.

We must continue to advance the review of the Building Act, so we can reform our building legislation to deliver safer, quality buildings and a sustainable construction industry. The Expert Advisory Panel met for the first time in February and intends to produce a Framework for Reform paper by the middle of the year, with an interim report complete by the end of 2020.

I am so impressed with the resilience and adaptability of Victorians during these uncertain times. We have a way to go before our sector can return to a ‘normal’ way of working, but in the meantime, we must continue to be agile with our approach to delivering opportunities for all Victorians. We will get through this together and we will, of course, keep Victoria open for business.

Kind regards,

Julian Lyngcoln| Associate Secretary
Deputy Secretary, Planning | Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning

Source: Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning