Transforming VCAT - BRAG Submission

Submission from Boroondara Residents’ Action Group (BRAG)

The Boroondara Residents’ Action Group (BRAG)
is registered under the Associations Incorporation Act 1981 No. A0054624J
Brag is a community organization representing the residents of Boroondara
with the aim of protecting what we love about our neighbourhood.
BRAG has a paid up membership of over 500 members. Surveys reveal that we enjoy additional support from the general resident Boroondara community.
Note : this submission concentrates upon the Planning & Environment List.
The planning system is seen as biased against the citizen” –
Prof. Miles Lewis, former Member of VCAT
It is biased because all government bodies assume growth is desirable.
All planners assume that the role of planning is to manage and facilitate development.
Governments and local governments assume they should plan for future inhabitants rather than existing constituents.
VCAT thinks it should develop planning policy rather than oversee its correct application.
The whole system is complex and can be very expensive, favouring professionals at the expense of the ordinary citizen.
Generally this submission expresses concern at the independence of VCAT with it being forced to rely on the Planning Act, M2030, M@ 5million and the increasing number of changes to the government’s planning policies  ( the push to centralize planning for instance) rather than making decisions upon fairness and justice.
We say VCAT should be a court of appeal adjudicating upon whether or not the proposal is in line with planning and council regulations
VCAT should not be a de-facto planning authority .
We note that Justice Kevin Bell’s final report noted many of our concerns which were included in our submission to his review (copy attached) but the current discussion paper does little to provide any realistic pointers or actions to accommodate our major concerns.
It seems that we are now required to go back to square one and make fresh arguments to push our case.
Our members are very critical of VCAT acting as a de-facto planning authority
rather than as an appeal body.
Furthermore, we question the independence of members when their professions
(mainly planning or architectural) rely heavily upon the development and construction industry for their incomes.
At a meeting with Justice Bell held on 14th July 2009 the above and other  points were made which are still supported by our members and we attach a copy of our recommendations that are still relevant today.

Submitted by Jack Roach, President, Boroondara Residents’ Action Group
PO Box 1034 Camberwell, 3124
Tel 9882 2829