A young planner’s mistake could have cost our clients $25,000
A young planning officer signed off on a planning permit for a dual occupancy in Niddrie. Upon an inspection of the planning permit conditions we noticed a condition requiring the owner to provide a stormwater retention system. We compared this condition with the Stormwater advice obtained from Council’s engineering department at the beginning of the process which did not require the stormwater retention system.
For those not familiar with the retention system its aim is to collect the stormwater on site by means of tanks or large underground pipes and to release the water into Council’s drains at a slow rate. This ensures at times where there are heavy rainfalls that the existing undersized system has time to gradually release the water to the waterways etc.
The problem here, however, is that these detention systems can be quite costly and need to be designed by a qualified civil engineer. Unfortunately not many people check planning permit conditions and once a planning permit is issued it is time consuming to have a condition altered.
In some cases one may need to contest the condition at VCAT equating to more costs and a 9 month delay. In accordance with our principles in trying to help our clients and to address the many inequalities that unsuspecting clients face in the planning process, we called Council’s engineer. We wanted to discuss whether there was some specific reason a condition for a retention system had been placed on the property. The engineer indicated that there was none. With this ammunition we wrote to the manager of the planning department indicating that we believed that a mistake had been made asking for it to be rectified.
After a month or so of correspondence and phone calls, council conceded that a mistake had been made and that a new permit was issued with the condition removed.
Another win for our clients. It just goes to show you the importance of having the right principles, ie caring and knowledge.