What happens at a Planning Committee Meeting?

Agenda and Minutes

Before each Planning Committee meeting an Agenda is prepared detailing the items that are to be presented to the Planning Committee meeting.

The Recommendations as set out in the Agenda are simply proposals to the Planning Committee for its consideration. The Committee may adopt these proposals, amend the proposals or determine a completely different course of action.

The decision of the Planning Committee becomes a resolution of the Council and is recorded in the Planning Committee Minutes. The Planning Committee Agenda and the Planning Committee Minutes are linked by the common Item Numbers and Titles.

General Information about Planning Committee Meetings

One of the most important functions undertaken by the Mayor and Councillors is to attend and participate in the decision making process at Council meetings and meetings of Committees, such as the Planning Committee. Decisions made at a formal Planning Committee Meeting provide the direction and authority for the ongoing operation of the Council in relation to Planning matters. The decisions give direction to the Chief Executive Officer and are implemented by staff employed by the City of Casey.

Council is a corporate body and as such it can only make decisions by resolution, i.e. a motion has to be put to a properly convened meeting and passed by the required majority of members. A Council can only make decisions and pass resolutions about matters falling within its jurisdiction, otherwise it will be deemed to be acting “ultra vires” – acting beyond its powers.

The Council is able to establish Special Committees, such as the Planning Committee. Decisions made by the Planning Committee are binding on Council.

Formal meeting procedures are followed. All members present at the Planning Committee meeting must vote on every motion put to the meeting. The Chairperson has a casting vote if there is an equality of votes.

An Agenda, listing the issues and relevant reports for discussion at the meeting, is made available to the public in advance so that everyone has the opportunity to be aware of matters before Council. Copies are available through Council’s website, by visiting the Council Offices or at the Customer Service Centres. Members of the public are welcome to attend meetings. Meetings are only closed to the public when topics of a confidential nature are discussed, such as an individual’s financial circumstances, a particular staff member, proposed developments or legal matters.

Public Conduct During Meeting

Planning Committee meetings are a formal meeting. This means that visitors are bound by the Rules of Procedure and are not permitted to participate or interrupt the meeting procedures.

Council’s Meeting Procedures Local Law gives the Chairperson the power to order a person to leave the meeting room if the person interjects or attempts to disrupt the meeting.

A person asked to leave the Meeting by the Chairperson, and not doing so, is guilty of an offence.

Presentations to a Meeting of Councillors

A summary of the application and objections is included in the Planning Officer’s report and so it is not necessary (or usual) for parties to also make presentations to Councillors.

Council’s practice is that a resolution of Council is required for an applicant and/or objector to be heard by Council with respect to a planning application. Applicants or objectors wishing to present to a meeting of Council should therefore make their request to their Ward Councillor. If such a request is put by a Councillor and resolution passed by Council then the presentations are generally made to a General Purposes Committee. This will need to be organised in advance of consideration of the application at the Planning

Committee Meeting.

Alternatively, parties can obviously contact and discuss their position with their Ward Councillors or other individual Councillors in advance of the Planning Committee meeting.

Notwithstanding who makes the request the same opportunity will be provided to both parties to an application (both applicant and objectors). Presentation will generally be limited to ten (10) minutes for the applicant and ten (10) minutes for objectors. Accordingly multiple objectors will need to coordinate their presentations to fit within the limited time allocated (10minutes).

Ultimately Council is required to consider all written submissions that have been received so the opportunity to make verbal presentations is not necessary or possible in all circumstances. Parties to an application will be advised of the Council’s decision and any appeal rights that exist beyond the decision.

The Business of the Planning Committee Meeting

All business to be dealt with is listed in the Planning Committee Agenda.

Opening of the Meeting

The Chairperson will open the Meeting. The Meeting is recorded for the purpose of accuracy of the Minutes.

Apologies

If any Councillor had advised that they are unable to be in attendance, then their absence will be dealt with at this stage.

Confirmation of Minutes

The Minutes of the previous Meeting have been previously circulated to Councillors and are confirmed with or without corrections as a true record of the previous Meeting.

Declarations by Councillors

Councillors are required to declare any direct or indirect Conflicts of Interest in any items on the Agenda. This is a requirement of the Local Government Act. It is usual for Councillors to declare their interest at this point of the Meeting and then immediately before consideration of the relevant item. A Councillor declaring a Conflict of Interest must leave the Council Chamber and may not take part in the debate or vote on the item.

Consideration of Officer’s Reports

In this Section of the Agenda are all the reports prepared by Council Officers. This Section is divided into seven parts which are as follows:-

  • Permit Applications
  • Appeals
  • Planning Scheme Amendments (Council)
  • Planning Scheme Amendments (State Government)
  • Council Planning Policies
  • State Government Matters
  • General

Conduct of the Meeting

There are a number of “Rules” used for running the Meeting. Generally they are contained within Council’s Meeting Procedures Local Law. Several of the important requirements of the Local Law are as follows:-

Motions

All motions must be moved and seconded ie. 2 Councillors must indicate their support for a proposed motion before it is accepted for debate at the Meeting.

Discussion of Items

Discussion or debate on items allows each Councillor with the exception of the mover of a motion to only speak once. The mover is allowed to sum up and speak a second time. Councillors, however, may ask questions on an issue and this is not counted as “speaking”.

Putting Motions to the Vote

If no Councillor indicates opposition, the Chairperson must declare the motion carried without it being voted on.

After all Councillors who wish to speak have been given the opportunity the Chairperson will ask the mover of the motion to sum up, after which the motion is immediately put to a vote.

Requests for a Division

Any Councillor may call for a ‘Division’ which is a formal method of recording which Councillors have voted ‘For’ and which Councillors have voted ‘Against’. In a division, a Councillor can change their vote from when the initial vote on an item was taken. The Chairperson will first call for all those in favour of the motion to stand in their places and their names will be read out by the Chairperson. The Chairperson will then ask for those against the motion to stand and their names will also be read out.

The Chairperson will then declare the result.

Casting Vote

If there is an equal number of Councillors voting For and Against on an issue, whether in a normal vote or in a Division, the Chairperson has a second vote, called a ‘Casting Vote’. A Casting Vote may only be used after the Chairperson’s deliberative vote is cast and the Chairperson should declare that he or she is exercising their Casting Vote. A Casting Vote is common to all organisations in the event that there is an equality of votes, otherwise some issues could not be resolved.

Moving of Amendments

With the exception of Councillors who have already spoken on an issue, including movers and seconders, an Amendment may be moved by a Councillor. An Amendment will also need a seconder and the purpose of an Amendment is to alter the motion currently being considered. If an Amendment is moved and seconded, debate will then continue on the Amendment until it is dealt with. If the Amendment has been carried, then it will form the “substantive motion” (replacing the original motion). If no other Amendments have been foreshadowed, then the substantive motion will be put for a vote to the Meeting.

If the Amendment is lost then debate will resume on the original motion. Further Amendments are also able to be moved and seconded, but they are not able to be substantially similar to an Amendment already dealt with.

Use of Titles at Planning Committee Meetings

A Planning Committee Meeting is a formal Meeting and accordingly Councillors and Officers must refer to each other by their formal Titles.

Time Limits

The time limit for the mover of a motion to speak is five minutes and the mover is also able to speak for two minutes in exercising their right of reply. All other Councillors speaking during a Meeting are only able to speak for up to three minutes, although any Councillor may seek an extension of time.

Meeting Schedule

A Meeting Schedule is available on the Council website.