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Country-city planning partnership a winner
Date of Issue: 
December 10, 2021

East Gippsland Shire Council and Brimbank City Council have jointly won a Planning Institute of Australia award for improving planning processes.

At the awards ceremony in Melbourne this week, the initiative of sharing planning resources was recognised as an innovative partnership that has successfully built capacity and skills across local government planning.

Councils historically don’t share planning personnel, while attracting planners to rural shires has historically been difficult. Meanwhile, metropolitan councils often ride the wave of the property markets and maintaining a sustainable number of planners can be challenging, especially during a global pandemic.

Mayor Cr Mark Reeves said while East Gippsland and Brimbank are very different local government areas, the innovative collaboration has proved to be a winner.

“We were significantly affected by the 2019-20 bushfires and experienced a substantial increase in planning applications, while Brimbank (in Melbourne’s west) was significantly affected by the COVID pandemic outbreak in 2020 and experienced a noticeable downturn in planning applications,” Cr Reeves said.

“This meant that East Gippsland had the need for help and Brimbank had the resources to help.”

In 2020-21, East Gippsland had 742 planning applications lodged (an increase of 103compared to 2019-20 and an increase of 204 compared to 2018-19) and issued/amended 641 permits (an increase of 163 compared to 2019-20 and an increase of 155 compared to 2018-19).

The collaboration utilised a flexible resource-sharing process underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding which has cut the employment and planning delegation red tape that often limits local governments from sharing staff, resources and learnings. IT system integration and already-established work-from-home practices contributed to the collaboration succeeding.

“The two-way learning has contributed to improved planning performance for both councils and economic flow-on effects to both local communities,” Cr Reeves said.

“The award is a fitting recognition of not only the initiative and our partnership with Brimbank, but the significant amount of work the planning team has put in over the past two years in difficult circumstances, including the significant increase in planning applications.

“I’m certain this will lead to future resource sharing and learning opportunities across local government planning. This clearly demonstrates we are on the right track. Well done to all involved, and thanks to our colleagues at Brimbank.”

East Gippsland Shire Council planners Nirveen Kaur and Emine Mestan, with Brimbank City Council’s Susan Fitton (centre), accept the 2021 Planning Institute of Australia (Victoria) Innovation in Planning Award.

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