Ballarat City Council has voted to set up a Planning Special Committee to help deal with its large planning workload.
The committee will provide for better consultation when dealing with all planning matters, including planning permit applications, planning amendments and during the strategic planning phase of policy developments.
Currently, liquor licensing matters, planning permit applications where a senior Council Officer is the applicant, planning scheme amendments, major planning policy initiatives and Cultural Heritage Management Plan matters are heard in the Council Chamber.
Two councillors can also request a planning permit application be heard in the chamber if they feel it warrants further debate.
However, the significant amount of planning work across the City of Ballarat is now believed to warrant a special committee of its own.
Full Council Meeting rules only allow limited time for the public to present their case and is particularly difficult when there are a large number of submitters.
A Planning Special Committee would be a less formal environment, allow for more detailed submissions and provide for councillors to ask more questions of applicants and objectors.
It is recommended that final decisions in respect to Planning Scheme Amendments will remain the responsibility of the full Council.
The committee will include all nine councillors, with public meetings to be held on the fourth Wednesday of each month for the rest of 2019.
A report into the possibility of live streaming the Planning Special Committee meetings would also be provided after its first three meetings.
It was also passed that planning applications relating to liquor licensing be dealt with under officer delegation, which would produce faster assessment times and be in keeping with council’s policy to facilitate growth, economic development and tourism within Ballarat.