Councillor Ann Potter was elected to Hume Council in 2000 and remembers well her first lesson in land use planning…
“Soon after I was first elected, a long time ago now but still a vivid memory, I received an invitation to attend the opening of a large new children’s playground constructed by a property developer in a new subdivision. As well as receiving the invitation I also got a call from the property developer inviting me to come up and see the playground being constructed. As a mother of two kids this concept excited me, a massive playground that was suited to all ages being built in my area, so I took up all the invitations with vigour. The opening day was a great success.
A few days after the opening I received a memo from council indicating that the appropriate permits for the construction of the playground had not been issued.
It seemed to me to be minor at the time as it was a facility that was really needed in the area. However the residents that lived in close proximity, held different views and felt that the playground was spoiling their amenity. They had a lot more traffic than they had in the past, and hundreds of little kids having fun and making noise.
Well, after months of trying to negotiate with both the residents and the developer, we called in a professional mediator who worked wonders. The residents felt that their concerns were being taken seriously and the applicant (the developer) realised that they had a major problem on their hands.
The final outcome to all of this was that the developer decided that it was in their best interest to voluntarily downsize the playground and guarantee that they would reconstruct it on a site more appropriate taking into account that they would need to apply for another permit.