Council's preference is that all complaints should be in writing and at a minimum identify:
The complainant's name, address, and contact phone number,
The address where the activity or works are occurring,
A description of the activity/works that are being carried out,
Details of any relevant planning permits the complainant may believe are being affected,
The outcomes the complainant is seeking from Council,
A short history of the subject site and details of any possible conflicts of interest.
Written complaints may be sent to:
Planning Enforcement City of Ballarat PO Box 655 BALLARAT VIC 3353
Under the City of Ballarat Planning Scheme a planning permit is required prior to the commencement of numerous new uses and construction/demolition of structures. In some instances landowners or operators fail to get the appropriate approval and Council receives complaints. In other instances the new use or works are noted during routine inspections by Council officers.
Council also undertakes inspections to check that conditions of planning permits that have been issued have been met.
In all cases Council's goal is to achieve compliance with the planning scheme, and any related planning permit. The use of enforcement processes will be made where it becomes evident that voluntary compliance is unlikely to be successful in a time frame satisfactory to Council.
Where enforcement is pursued it may be through the following mechanisms:
Negotiating compliance - for less serious breaches with limited amenity impacts on other properties
Official warnings - for breaches where there are impacts on others but ready options to resolve the breach
Planning Infringement notices - where a more serious breach has occurred, or a lack of demonstrated intent to resolve or there are previous offences and the matter is unlikely to be resolved by a warning the offender pays a fine for the offence as well as takes actions to resolve the breach of the planning provisions
Enforcement orders - for serious breaches of the planning scheme or ongoing breaches Council may apply to VCAT for enforcement
Other jurisdictions - referral of matters to the Magistrates' Court, County Court, other agencies for prosecution on a planning scheme breach.
Council prefers all complaints to be in writing, although verbal complaints will be recorded and investigated providing the name and contact details of the complainant are provided. All possible measures will be taken to protect the identity of the complainant in the process and Council will advise a complainant when it becomes necessary for their details to be provided to any other party [which may arise if a matter escalates to VCAT or another jurisdiction].
Council is committed to being proactive in its approach, undertaking compliance audit initiatives involving (where appropriate) a range of regulatory services which address local stakeholder concerns and secure environmental improvement.
In some instances, it may be found that enforcement through the planning system is not the most timely or cost effective means of securing compliance. In such cases Council will refer the matter to either other areas of the organisation [ie Environmental Health or Local Laws] or external agencies [ie the Environmental Protection Agency] to resolve the complaint. In these situations the planning staff will actively support and assist the actions of the alternate agency in resolving the matter.