Victoria’s next Council elections will be held in October 2020, with around 2000 candidates expected to contest elections across 79 Councils.

Victoria’s local Council elections will be held in 2020.

As candidates prepare their campaigns to win a four-year term, so too should developers whose projects depend on Council approval plan their engagement with local government. This is a vital step, and without a clear plan of action, securing support can be an uphill battle. In an election year, that hill can quickly grow into a mountain.

Obtaining Council permits for new developments is a cumbersome process at the best of times. Consultation with affected communities over and above the statutory process is now an established part of many Councils’ approaches to major developments.

This means that residents and community groups now have a voice and level of influence once reserved for Council planning officers and State Government referral authorities like utilities and infrastructure providers.

Having the Council and community on your side can be crucial to securing approvals for developments – conversely, their opposition can be an insurmountable hurdle.

Now more than ever, the success of a development rests on the three P’s: policy, politics, and process.

Understanding the policies that affect your development, and using evidence to withstand scrutiny is essential to establishing a solid foundation upon which the development can proceed. Does your proposal meet Council’s policies on design, heritage, sustainability, car parking, and open space? If not, how will you respond to the inevitable objections?

The political environment defines the shape your engagement should take. Is one or more of the Councillors anti-development? Is the local residents’ association prone to opposing development? Is there a local newspaper that will cover the matter? And how will various State Government authorities respond to the proposal? Knowing the answers to these questions will give you a clear path to engaging stakeholders.

What is the preferred planning process for your project? It’s not always the one that looks fastest on paper. What are the advertising requirements? How – and how often – will the community be consulted? Will the Minister for Planning have a role, or just the Council? Where in the process should support from other stakeholders be sought?

Working with Councils and communities demands a well-considered communications strategy covering all stages of your project – from pre-application to Council approval. With our deep understanding of Council decision-making processes, The Civic Group has helped clients achieve success in all kinds of developments, from inner city to greenfields and from commercial to industrial.

For a chat about how our team can help, email or call us on (03) 9620 9300.