Know Your Council

Understanding Council performance can help when communicating with your clients

“Know your Council” initiative is a resource designed to improve transparency and accountability of Council. It provides data on 66 measures and a governance and management checklist of 24 items which together build a comprehensive picture of individual Councils performance.

So how can this help building designers? As Council is a major stakeholder in the planning process for building developments, understanding how a particular Council performs in terms of Statutory Planning can help you manage your clients expectations and help you plan your work schedules. An individual Council can be compared to the average across all 79 Victorian Councils, Councils of similar size, or against up to three selected Councils.

The 4 key measures under Statutory Planning are:

  • Timeliness: Time taken to decide planning applications.

This is the median number of days taken between receipt of a planning application and a decision on an application. Low or decreasing time suggests an improvement in the appropriateness of application processing and decisions. This information can be helpful to plan your schedules. Councils with a higher median timeliness score typically take longer to approve planning applications. The data in this measure includes new applications + amended + combined.

  • Service Standards: Planning applications decided within required time frames.

This measure is a percentage of VicSmart planning application decisions made within 10 days and regular planning application decisions made within 60 days. The higher the % the better the council is in making decisions within the required timeframes.

  • Service Cost: Cost of statutory planning service per planning application.

This is the average cost of a planning application for a Council. Lower or decreasing costs suggest an improvement in the cost-efficiency of application processing and decisions.

  • Decision Making: Percentage of Council planning decisions upheld at VCAT Reported as a percentage of planning applications decisions subject to review by VCAT that were not set aside.

This could be in favour or not in favour of the Applicant depending on what the original decision was. For example an Applicant may go to VCAT because it was not originally approved by Council and the decision gets overruled… ie the decision to NOT approve an application is reversed so the application goes through. This measure provides an indication of whether decisions are consistent with the local planning scheme.

Design Matters has updated practice note MN027-2020 Know Your Council to reflect the current data. The practice note is available in the Member Area of the Design Matters Website www.designmatters.org.au

Are Statutory Planning services offered by Councils improving? In the next issue of Intersect we will take a deeper look into the trends for Councils to see how they are performing over time.

Know Your Council has been developed by Local Government Victoria (LGV) within the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Mandatory performance reporting became a requirement for local government from the 2014-15 local government annual budgeting and reporting cycle onwards.

To view the table summary of all the councils outlining the 4 key measures – view Intersect February 2020.