Free (Statutory) Planning Advice

Discussion in 'Permaculture consultants, businesses, resources' started by ecodharmamark, Sep 26, 2009.

  1. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day All

    After two-years of part-time employment as a local government (cadet) planner, and nearly three-years of hard slog out of a four-year course (see: https://www.latrobe.edu.au/planning/bachelor.html), I have decided that it is time to 'return some of the surplus'.

    What does that mean? It means that I am offering a FREE (statutory) planning advice service to anyone implementing a genuine permaculture project.

    My area of 'expertise' is, naturally, statutory planning within my home state of Victoria (Australia), however I have read extensively from other states (of Australia) and I am quite comfortable with interpretating their respective statutory requirements. So, should you need a hand with understanding the 'local code' (particularly from the unique perspective that we permaculturalists hold), then I would be only too happy to offer you my 'unqualified' advice.

    And yes, people from distant lands are most welcome to take up my offer - I'll have a crack at interpretating any (freely available) planning code/scheme/regulation that exists upon this planet! Unfortunately, I only have one language (the one you are currently reading), so it is best if you can tender all requests in English - Australian, even better :D .

    Of course (and this goes for everyone), because you will be paying me nothing for my 'services', and in the event that I should offer you advice that is contrary to a legally-binding interpretation of your 'local code', then I expect that you will not try to sue (instigate legal proceedings against) me for any damages you may incur. My legal advice is rather solid, and suggests that if you should wish to sue for incorrect information given and received 'in good faith', then you will most likely get nothing - not that I have a lot to give :lol: .

    Anyway, now that we have the nasty legal stuff out of the way (and assuaged any worries my lawyer friend may have), allow me to continue to set out what's on offer...

    Essentially, my services will suit people who are in the process of developing a permaculture project - of any scale - and who feel that they may need advice as to whether the proposed development will meet/not meet local council/governing body requirements, and who for whatever reason, are unable to source this advice either from their local governing body, or a private planning consultant. People faced with financial difficulties are most welcome to apply, and will go to the front of the line.

    Critical to the service on offer, is my solid commitment to 100% confidentiality. Your business will always remain your business, and wild horses could not ever drag from me your personal details to give to a third party. Seriously, this is a very critical matter as you will have to provide me with EXACT property details if you expect EXACTING advice in return. Likewise, you will have to provide me with the EXACT detail of what it is you are proposing to develop/use on your particular property. In this regard, it is always good planning (not too mention a legal requirement in most parts of the world!) to ensure that the property at which you propose a use/development is actually yours, or at least you have the authority of the owner of the said property to undertake the said use/development :rolleyes: .

    So, more legal stuff, but best to be up front about these things from the very beginning...

    OK, so if you do wish to take up my offer, this is what I need:

    *Exact property (allotment) description (location)
    *Property size (acres/hectares)
    *A BRIEF outline of your intended use/development

    I don't know if anyone else is offering this kind of 'pro bono' (?) service, so I have no idea of what the demand might be - if any!

    So, after having read all the above, I am sure many of you must by now be asking "What's in it for him?"

    The answer, experience. Nothing more, nothing less (well, maybe a little bit of good karma).

    OK, so over to you. Any general questions/comments, please use this forum and maybe we can help others at the same time.

    Personal questions, please feel free to use my PM/email.

    Cheerio, Mark.
     
  2. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    Re: Free (Statutory) Planning Advice

    Hello Mark
    I was most interested in your post. We are in the process of establishing an education centre on the property at Purple Pear Organics in the Hunter Valley NSW. We are having some difficulty with council in getting a reedbed/composting toilet system passed and we are not that sure of the "education centre" aspect and have applied to have a workshop built. We will build in infill straw and mudbrick.
    Is this the type of project that could benifit from your input?
    regards Mark
    intent-observation-intuition
     
  3. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Re: Free (Statutory) Planning Advice

    G'day Mark

    I have read with interest quite a few of your previous posts.

    Earlier today I quickly browsed your website - very good!

    As a result of the above, I have prepared a preliminary planning report for your property/proposal (that you are welcome to have).

    Where would you like to go from here?

    I am (mostly) available the next couple of days to discuss, either by phone/email.

    Email you have, phone you can PM me for my landline.

    I await your reply.

    Cheerio, Mark.
     
  4. gemjill

    gemjill Junior Member

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    Re: Free (Statutory) Planning Advice

    G'day Mark
    We are in the process of buying a 180 odd acres and may well take you up on your very generous and kind offer. Will let you know when the deed(s) is done.
    cheers
     
  5. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Re: Free (Statutory) Planning Advice

    G'day gemjill

    Generally speaking, most buyers undertake a statutory planning investigation prior to signing on the dotted line.

    They do this for several reasons, but more often than not they do it because:

    1) their bank manager demands it

    2) their property lawyer advises it

    3) it is the biggest economic decision that they will probably ever make in their lives

    4) they like to sleep at night

    I have seen a lot of tears (and quite a few tantrums) over the past couple of years when people have found only after purchasing their 'dream block' that the plans they have for development and/or use of the said block do not meet with their local government requirements. We do not call the customer service area of my local government planning authority the 'counter of broken dreams' for nothing.

    You wouldn't buy a used car without a roadworthy certificate, would you?

    Good luck with the purchase. I am happy to help at any stage of the process.

    Mark.
     
  6. ho-hum

    ho-hum New Member

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    Re: Free (Statutory) Planning Advice

    Eco & Purplepear,

    Is there any chance you could publish the report here so that I/we can understand the sort of process the two of you are undertaking.

    I have never undertaken any sort of land use change so I am not in the least familiar with the sorts of information requested and the barriers to obtaining permission. The Northern Territory has only last year bought over 90% of it's land into a shire situation, so before that if you lived outside the town boundaries [which were small] then it was a veritable free for all. There were some provisions under the Roads Act that meant you couldnt build a caravan park on the side of a highway etc. So there were no 'rates' or anything like that.

    Congratulations to you Mark, your offer is excellent.
    I have, via your posts, followed your progress over the past 4 years and dont think I have missed a post. They have always been condisered and researched.

    cheers,

    mike jackson
     
  7. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Re: Free (Statutory) Planning Advice

    I know absolutely nothing about this type of thing so i'm probably asking the wrong questions...

    Questions relate to buying a property that had no plans available and was probably built (and added to) over the years without approval (property would make an ideal perma environment)...

    1. Can one legally buy a property in "As Is" condition ?

    2. If a property IS sold ''as is'' and a council decides to investigate property ''After Sale'' does the seller have any obligation to the buyer ?

    3. If a property was Independently valued at $200,000 (just a basic figure), should a buyer offer a price lower than that if seller can not produce any planning information regarding the property.
     
  8. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    Re: Free (Statutory) Planning Advice

    Fasten your seat belts we may be in for a bumpy ride. Yes ho hum now that I'm clear of the years educational programme I am looking to advance the project in the coming months and I will try to keep you all abreast of proceedings.

    I agree that Marcus gives well considered and valuable input to the forum, as ferdando remarked a bromantic affair is in order.
     
  9. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Re: Free (Statutory) Planning Advice

    G'day All

    Thank you. Likewise Mike, I have been following your life (through your posts) for a long while now, and I thoroughly enjoy the process of learning from the depth of your knowledge and experience. In my own case, I do not always get 'things' right, and sometimes I get a little tired and tetchy, but generally I do try my best to share what others (and life in general) have (has) taught me.

    Looks like Mark will try to keep everyone informed of any planning issues that I advise on in relation to PurplePear.

    G'day Eric. Thanks for asking. Please excuse me if I am stating the patently obvious, however this general response may be of help to many:

    When purchasing property (anywhere), a person would be well advised to first ascertain just exactly what it is that they are looking at buying. All land is subject to title. A title is a legally binding document. It is a bit of paper which 'records' the details of the property and may include description (size), boundary location (plan), ownership details, and any other legal obligations, restrictions or rights. Some times there are special conditions (caveats) created and placed on a title which might restrict what an owner/occupier can/must do or not do with regards to the use and/or development of the property. Titles can be very complicated and quite arduous in their reading. The information attached to a title might have been written a very long time ago. Anyone who does not fully understand all that is contained on a land title, should seek the advice of a person qualified to 'test' title information. Check under 'property lawyer' in the Yellow Pages.

    Anyone has the right to search for and purchase a copy of a land title. The very first piece of advice a planner will give when anyone is looking to purchase property is, "Have you got a current copy of the title?" In your case, Eric. If the property you are looking at is located within the state of Tasmania (Australia), then a copy of the title will be available from:

    https://www.dpiw.tas.gov.au/inter.nsf/Th ... 3CUVH?open

    Now, concerning any planning related information (restrictions on what you may/may not use and/or develop) that may be contained on a title. This information should be read in conjunction with any planning legislation (restrictions on what you may/may not use and/or develop) which is applied to the land via a planning scheme. In the case of Tasmania, more information about planning schemes (and associated maps) can be found here:

    https://www.planning.tas.gov.au/planning ... ng_schemes

    https://www.iris.tas.gov.au/__maps/Planning/

    Concerning your questions in particular, Eric:

    1) Generally speaking, one will always buy a property in "as is" condition. The ownus is always on the buyer to ensure that the property they are purchasing is legitimate, and that any 'improvements' (uses and/or developments) to the land are likewise legal and have approval from the relevant authority. This is the basis of the saying that real estate agents/property vendors cringe upon hearing, but one which I will always state: Caveat emptor, 'Let the buyer beware'!

    2) See above. Further, councils do from time-to-time (if they have the resources) act on 'illegal' uses and/or developments. They usually do this in response to a 'complaint' or 'tip-off'. Regardless of who created the 'illegal' use/development, the burden of guilt will always be born by the title holder of the land (and in some case the land occupier, if different from the owner). Previous land uses/developments that may have been approved and attached to the title (or what is more often the case, granted by the issuing of a planning permit), will always remain significant to the land title. For example, one purchases a block of land with planning permission to build a dwelling, this permission stays with the title, regardless of who holds (owns) that title.

    3) If apparent 'improvements' ('buildings and works' - this could include dams, recent tree felling/native veg removal, buildings of all shapes and sizes (and levels of habitation), maybe even car bodies or 'spoil' dumps) do not have planning approval, then you may very well be purchasing a 'liability', rather than an asset. Do your own math :p .

    Mind you, another very important factor to consider in the above equation is time. 'Illegal' uses and/or developments may very well become 'legal' given a specific period of time has elapsed between when the use/develpment started/occurred, and some future date. Here in Victoria (Australia), we call this situation an 'Existing Use' right. A similar process may be in operation Tasmania? Just another thing to be aware of.

    In sum:

    Get a copy of title

    Check with council to see if any existing planning permits apply

    Seek professional legal and/or planning advice


    I hope the above helps, Eric. Please feel free to utilise my 'service' should a future need materialise. Remember, for me to provide you (or anyone else) with any site specific planning advice, I need to know the EXACT location of the property, together with an EXACT plan (either in written or plan form) of EXISTING or PROPOSED uses and/or developments.
     
  10. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Re: Free (Statutory) Planning Advice

    Super information. Thanks heaps for your time and input on that.
     
  11. suzieneil

    suzieneil Junior Member

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    My partner and i found 66 acres of land in Campbells Forest, Victoria(just out of Bendigo) in June this year, it had been used for raising sheep/cattle and cropping.
    So we headed off to Loddon Shire and spoke to the town manager of planning we explained that we had intentions to buy the land and put on a dwelling and raise some cattle and put in a crop some organic vegies and chickens. After he got the site up on the computer he said it looked straight forward and that he couldn't see a problem and encouraged us to get plans drawn up and submit them with our application. So after spending several thousand dollars having our house and shed plans drawn up we waited eagerly to hear the result of our application, never at any time were we told there would be a problem, after 3 weeks we were contacted and the manager of planning wanted more detailed information all questions were answered to the best of our ability. Many weeks later my partner rang and the response was " i am having a real problem with your application, i can't see how you could make a living on this property". my partner is self employed , semi retired and works from home, so he was told that a answer would be given within the next couple of days, it was nearly the end of the week so i decided to ring, i got a different answer to my partner this time it was because it didn't suit a dwelling and was more for agriculture. The following week my partner rang back and the response had changed again this time he said it was because it was under 100 acres, at no time was this ever said, we make our intentions very clear right from the start and specifically said it was 66 acres. Our advice from the manager was, come and get your application fee back because if it goes to council you won't win because they always heed my advice. Well we stood firm and we actually went to the council meeting and heard our application read out as written by the planning manager, NEVER was it stated that we wanted to farm the land, he made it look like we only wanted to put up a house and live there, no cattle, no crops, nothing, and when one of the councillers asked "what are they going to do with the land" the response was " i don't know as i have nothing in front of me" It did state in the agenda that we wanted to crop and use for animal husbandry but nothing else and it was obvious that the spokesperson for the manager only read out select items and it was more obvious that councillers do not preview the agenda before a meeting. So we lost, we couldn't speak up and say it was read out wrong and we lost nearly $500 in application fee. So what can we do? how can we word this so we can get our application approved if we apply again? is it worth going to VCAT? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
     
  12. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day suzieneil

    Welcome to the PRI Forum.

    For professional and legal reasons I cannot comment via this forum specifically on your case as described, however I can give you some general advice about where you may like to go from here.

    As you have so rightly pointed out, you do now have the option of appealing your case to VCAT. This need not be such a daunting task as you might believe. The Planning and Environment List at VCAT has been set up to act as

    ...an independent tribunal, which hears and decides applications by permit applicants, objectors and others in an informal and expeditious manner and upon their merits. It permits a broad range of people whose interests are affected by a decision to participate in a hearing.

    All of the information you should fully consider prior to going to VCAT is listed at the above link in the 'yellow' section. I would urge you to study in detail all of this information, and to get back to me here with any questions you think I might be able to help you resolve.

    Your question to date about how you should frame your 'claim' at VCAT is one the needs to be considered in the overall context of all the matters detailed in the above-mentioned information.

    I am sorry that I can not just wave a 'magic wand' and help you achieve your dream. However, I am sure that you can appreciate the complex nature of the situation you now find yourself in, and if you follow my advice and carefully study all of the information (yes, I know I keep referring to this, but it is vitally important that you understand what it is that you at getting yourself into), and by doing so can then convince me that you are endeavouring to implement the ethics and principles of permaculture at your site, then my advice will continue as promised - free!

    Cheerio for now, Marko.
     
  13. suzieneil

    suzieneil Junior Member

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    Thank you

    Thank you so much for a very quick response.
    My partner and i will have a very good study up on the help you have given and we will certainly keep in contact. Once again Thank you
     
  14. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    G'day Mark,
    This is really great to see, and furthur confirms that permaculture principles and ethics are evolving.
    Im just curious to know if you have found any areas in Australia that do not have the need for planning permits. Im sure you heard Michael Reynolds talk of this, and was wondering if you have done any research on this.
    Thanks.
     
  15. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day matto

    Generally speaking, all land use and development proposals in Australia (and therefore all land "areas in Australia") need to be 'tested' against the various state and territory legislative frameworks to determine whether or not they require planning permits. Of course, not all proposals require a planning permit. Those that do not are generally called 'as of right', like the construction of a farm shed in a farming zone, for example. Nor are some proposals even considered. Generally termed 'prohibited', an example of this kind of proposal might be the use of a brothel next door to a pre-school. Which leaves those kinds of proposals that are required to undergo the assessment process, such as our friend above with the example of a dwelling in a farming zone under 40ha. This category of proposal is generally termed 'discretionary', and for obvious reasons is the one that gives people the most grief.

    Having said that, there are some exemptions to the rule. One that I am aware of is commonwealth-owned land (regardless of where it is situated within the country) . The commonwealth has has its own legal process for determining land use and development control (of which I will not go into here due to time constraints).

    Another exemption scenario which comes to mind are the powers of the various state ministers to intervene in the statutory process. The state of which I am most familiar with concerning this practice is Victoria. Here the minister has enormous powers of veto or ascent, but rarely does he use them (for fear of political backlash, one would presume). The Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD) have a web page devoted to the Role of the Minister and his various 'powers of intervention'.

    The scenario which I suspect Mike Reynolds referred to when he was last here in Australia (or at least at the lecture in Bendigo, of which I attended), was ministerial intervention at a federal level. I did mean to follow up on this, but have not yet done so (it's on the list - buried at about number 346 of 'things to do'), so thanks for the reminder.

    I do know that matters of national environmental (and this is where planning usually gets lumped into at the federal level) importance are regulated by the EPBC Act, and that within this Act there are references to ESD (ecologically sustainable development), but these are mainly to do with performance reporting by government entities. I am still yet to study this particular Act in depth, so I do not know whether there is the ability to use it in order to free oneself of the requirement of getting a planning permit in order to develop a permaculture site, or otherwise.

    Further, another thing I do know is that at a federal level there is a little used collection of motherhood statements called the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development. This document has no legal standing, but it does at least give us something to work with when meeting our local federal members of parliament. Have a read of it when you get the chance, I am sure you will find it interesting.

    I'll get back to you about your initial question when I have done the research. If I have not commented on it in the next 6-months or so, please remind me. Better still, see if you can find out for yourself in the meantime and share the information with us all.

    Cheerio, Markos.
     
  16. matto

    matto Junior Member

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    Thanks a bunch for the reply, Markos.
    I will certainly post any information I find regarding these Pockets of Freedom.
    Great tips to research also, you know your stuff!
    Thanks again.
     
  17. Mudman

    Mudman Junior Member

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    Off Grid Water Brisbane

    Mark,
    Great service you are supplying here and a great way for you to improve your knowledge on things you probably haven't even thought of.

    We are creating a Permaculture property here in Brisbane, Brisbane City Council is the local authority.
    Have created most of the basics already, greywater system, strawbale granny flat (will be B&B when house finished), orchard, chook shed, 2 x 23,000L water tanks, solar hot water.
    But it is all still a work in progress and we have now begun building the main house, we are Owner Building everything.
    Our ultimate goial is to be energy and water self sufficient. The energy component will have to wait till we get some decent subsidies so we can afford it.

    But the one thing we would like to do and can afford to do is go completely off grid for the water.
    We are planning an extra 30-46,000L tank when the house is complete. We want to be disconnected from the water grid.

    The problem we are faced with is that Brisbane City Council does not allow houses that have access to the water grid to use rain water for anything except flushing toilets and washing machines. We have been using the tank water to drink for the last 3 years but have to cart the water into the house.

    So would you have any ideas on how we can legally get around council requirements for going off grid?

    Cheers and thanks in advance
    Kurt & Kathy
     
  18. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

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    Have you read Joel Salatins book "everything I want to do is illegal" Mudman?
    I reckon Marko has some real advice for you but you need also to look at the reasons they make these rules and safely circumvent them.
    With proper plumbing that makes no chance of cross contamination and a first flush so you are not drinking pollution or bird shit you are on your way to covering the concerns that the local authourity has in using your own water. If you put an ultra violet filter in especially the drinking water or a reverse osmosis filter you will be there IMO
     
  19. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Kurt and Kathy

    PP is right, it really does come back to safety - both for yourselves as potential re-users (consumers) of collected rainwater, and to the broader community/environment as a whole.

    I'm a planner. I have no qualifications in environmental health. As such my 'advice' here has no legal nor professional merit. Having said that, I have looked at your scenario (it's a veritable legislative minefield) and I offer the following as 'general advice' only:

    Concerning Council's policy:

    Please be aware that the only two internal uses for rainwater supported by Council are toilet flushing and cold water washing machine taps.

    My advice would be to question where this policy came from, and what legal standing it has (i.e. - what legislation controls it).

    I note there does not appear to be any mention of it in the Health, Safety and Amenity Local Law 2009.

    At the state level, and according to DERM:

    If you plan to use your rainwater for drinking you will need to keep your roof and gutters clean, and monitor the water quality regularly. See Queensland Health’s website for information about water quality:

    QLD Health - Environmental Health Branch - Water Quality Unit

    The above is big on legislation, but little on actual advice (although, there is one downloadable 'guideline' here - search 'drinking water'). Overall, my suggestion would be to give them a call to try and determine what legislation controls your proposal in your particular setting.

    The following may also help you with your research:

    DOMESTIC RAINWATER HARVESTING IN QUEENSLAND

    At the end of the day, if you wish to 'legally get around council requirements for going off grid', you need to first find out what the legal requirements are! You need to study the relevant legislation. Often there are legal 'alternatives' buried in the legislation, but without knowing what this legislation may or may not be, I can't help you any further.

    Please let us know how you get on. It's an interesting project.

    Cheerio, Markos.
     
  20. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day All

    Just like the old saying goes, "All good things must come to an end", and so too must my offer of (never-ending) free planning advice, due mainly to other commitments. I have enjoyed working these past couple of years on a variety of projects (over 50 in number), but mostly I have enjoyed meeting wonderful people and visiting beautiful places, ether in person or virtually as part of a desk-top analysis.

    Of course, and in line with my ethical considerations, I am still open to offering an initial free statutory planning advice consultation (up to 1-hour) to anyone contemplating this as a need within their emerging permaculture design - Intentional Communities, step to the front of the line! Anything over and above this time will be billed at an agreed upon rate - In simple terms, you offer to pay me whatever it is you think you can afford, and whether I accept your offer or not is purely dependent upon what else I have going on at the time. The going rate for a planner in Australia at present is about $130-40 per hour.

    Once again, thank you all for the opportunity to learn and grow with you as I completed my undergraduate degree, and may your project bear delicious fruit in the very near future, Mark.
     

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