'Planning Aid' - Would it interest you?

Discussion in 'Jobs, projects, courses, training, WWOOFing, volun' started by ecodharmamark, Mar 31, 2012.

  1. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day All

    In many jurisdictions, across many regions of the world, professional planners (usually by leading a team of para-professionals i.e. students) provide free, confidential and objective planning advice to eligible individuals, groups and community organisations. An example of one such service is Planning Aid (UK).

    Some of you may be aware that I have personally been offering a similar service for a few years now. During this time, I estimate that I have provided free planning advice to around 50 individuals/groups.

    Just recently, our university planning program (in conjunction with our Student Planners' Association) have decided to scope the viability of providing a similar service here in Australia (most likely, with a particular emphasis on statutory planning as it operates in the state of Victoria).

    My question therefore is: Would you avail yourself to this kind of service if it became available, and if so/not, why?

    Thanks for your time, cheerio, Markos.
     
  2. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Good People

    What if the service parameters were expanded to encompass Australia as a whole (similar to what I provide now)? Or maybe even to other, 'developing' regions of the world? Would there be any interest then? Once again, if so, why?

    Cheerio, Markos.
     
  3. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

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    I am happy to offer my bounteous wisdom to anyone
     
  4. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    If I lived in Oz, or this was available here, then yes I would use the service.

    Maybe you could explain what it is more. I'm guessing it's advice and support managing things like resource consent (not sure what the Oz equivalent is), building consents etc that have legal rules, within a Pc design/project?
     
  5. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day All

    Thanks, Michael. We'll be sure to keep your kind offer in mind ;).

    Close, pebble. The service, as we envision it, would be similar to that which is offered in the UK. In essence, it would be run by a group of students (under guidance from a group of professionally-acredited planners), and would focus on providing free, brief, confidential and objective planning advice (sorry, 'building' advice is outside of our profession, and therefore, brief).

    Initially, we propose that that the service would only be available to people seeking advice concerning Victorian State (and by default, Local) Government Planning Legislation. However, if we found there was a need (through demand, for example), we could consider rolling it out to other states of Australia (however, I'd personally much rather see students from those states undertaking the initiative).

    To the best of my knowledge, there is no such service operating in NZ. Maybe there is an opening there for local planning students? I'll bring it to the attention of the ANZAPS committee (eventually).

    Many of our planning students are already involved 'pro-bono' services across regions with 'developing economies'. These 'study tours' provide a valuable, and mutually-rewarding experience for both 'donors' and 'hosts'.

    So, in sum, I could see our service operating very well at the local (read: state) level, and perhaps extending to other (national/international) regions/localities with socio-enconomic disadvantages. However, concerning the latter, there could be some barriers to overcome with regards to political/cultural/language differences.

    Thanks for your thoughts thus far, kind people. Please keep them coming.

    Cheerio, Markos.
     
  6. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Hi Marko,

    "objective planning advice"

    Maybe it's just me sorry, but it's not explicit what that means. Planning what? Are you wanting to reach people that already understand what that technical language and context means, or anyone who may find the assistance useful?
     
  7. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    Hi Markos,

    I'm with pebble on this one. I followed your link to the similar UK service and with the impression that I would figure it out in no time at all, I was still confused as to what is offered other than planning for communities. It seems like a wide scope, and perhaps that is the intention. Perhaps, if one is in the need of that type of planning, then they would know exactly what is required.

    If I try to approach it from a local Government level, is the planning you offer something a developer would need in designing a new housing estate, or a Council designing a new multi-use public space, or is it smaller scale that that?
     
  8. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day pebble

    No, it's me that should apologise, for I can now see that simply relying on a link - to what I imagine is a rather daunting (information-saturated) example - was probably not the best way to present my query. Please allow me to start again.

    In Australia (as in most developed economies), practically all proposals to alter an existing land use and/or commence a development of some kind - that is, everything from say constructing a new dwelling on a site that has some sort of constraint, be that environmental, social or otherwise; to changing the existing use of land from say a retail premises to that of say an accommodation facility - requires planning permission. That is to say, the person wishing (proposing) to undertake the said land use change and/or development must (by law, hence the use of the term 'statutory') seek permission by way of submitting a planning application to their local government planning authority. The terminology changes a little between the (Australian) states, much the same as it does between nations, but in essence the process of negotiating this legal act follows a similar path.

    So, what I am enquiring about relates to how people go about undertaking the above legal act, especially those with a minimal understanding of planning law, and an equally minimal ability to access resources (money) in order to secure advice from someone that does understand planning law. You've heard of 'legal aid', yeah? Well, in a similar vein (and likewise similar to the links that I have previously posted), we are scoping for the establishment of a 'planning aid' service. Generally speaking, people who may access our proposed service may, for example, be contemplating the renovation of their heritage listed house (or may even just wish to determine if the house even is on a heritage register). They may have already contacted their local Council and been advised that 'Yes, you do need to submit a planning application'. Of course, the very next thing they probably will have asked their friendly local Council planning officer is 'How do I do that?'. Said Council officer would usually reply 'Follow the instructions on the application form'.

    In saying the above, generally most 'Mum and Dad' applications (or initial enquiries, for that matter) are pretty straight forward, and epending on the planning ordinance (legal 'cans and cannots') attached to their piece of land (practically every piece of land has them), the proposal will trigger one of three responses: 1) no permit required, 2) permit required or 3) prohibited. Numbers 1 and 3 are simple, one can either (legally) do what one proposes, or one cannot. Finito. It is with number 2 where most people unfamiliar with planning law usually run into trouble, and this means they generally have three options of what they can next do: 1) attempt to make the application themselves (bit like representing one's self in court), 2) pay a planning consultant to do it for them (vis-a-vis, hiring a lawyer) or 3) seek free planning advice (sticking with the analogy, secure legal aid).

    The sub-sections in the link I provided really do spell it out exactly. However, I do realise that some people might be pushed for time or not really that interested in reading them. So, if there is anything else I can help explain, please let me know.

    G'day S.O.P

    Hopefully, my above response to pebble will answer the first part of your question. In answer to the second part, the planning advice that we would offer would generally be available to individuals and/or groups that could otherwise not afford the services of a professional planning consultant. Examples of said people may be: pensioners, people with a disability, unemployed people, people on very low incomes, or maybe even a not-for-profit group of permies trying to establish an urban ecovillage. Not unlike those sorts of people that may test their eligibility for legal aid, perhaps?

    An example of the services we might offer could include providing statutory (or maybe even strategic, if it involved a particularly complex or large proposal) planning advice on a range of issue/matters. Everything from a simple second dwelling, to the development of an entire block - as long as the applicant met the eligibility criteria (perhaps similar to the one used in the UK service). Obviously, this would discount anyone who could afford to seek professional planning advice, include developers in fancy suits :D.

    Well good people, that's it from me for tonight. Any further questions/comments, whack 'em down on here, and I'll get back to you just as soon as I can.

    Cheerio, Markos.
     

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