Call for comment on Victorian building approvals review

The Victorian Red Tape Commissioner, Anna Cronin, has released a discussion paper for feedback on her current review of planning and building approvals processes in Victoria.

In her forward, Commissioner Cronin said the review had looked at the root causes for why planning and building approvals have become so complex and time consuming and, in many cases, less effective than they should be.

“A planning system where approvals take far too long leaves all participants in the system frustrated about the outcomes and is clearly not working as well as it should. Building approvals that have not prevented a series of systemic problems are clearly in need of review.”

The discussion paper identifies 27 points in the approvals chain where specific short and medium term improvements can be made.

“Many of these issues have been identified in the past and individual councils have already made significant efforts to address these. What is needed is adoption of best practices, reforming the rules and simplifying processes, along the entire approvals chain.

“There are many decisions-makers involved along the pipeline and reforming the planning and building approvals system will require coordination across all of these. There is scope to improve the interactions between all decision-makers and potentially deliver a significant efficiency dividend as a result of these reforms.

Commissioner Cronin said that estimates of the economic costs of avoidable delays in the $33 billion construction sector were between $400 million and $600 million a year – or up to 2 per cent of the value of the sector.

The Municipal Association of Victoria has supported many of the 102 proposed improvements, but criticised the report for perpetuating “common but unsubstantiated claims about the costs of approval processes and impacts on housing affordability.

"It is critical not to lose sight of the purpose of council approvals to balance private interests against the broader public good. These processes and approvals are complex, and the right outcome must not be compromised for speed", the MAV said.

The discussion paper is available here. Comments are being sought by Friday 15 November 2019 and can be submitted online at: A final report including specific recommendations on implementation will be submitted in December 2019.