No explanation for flood overlay omission

COUGHLAN Civil director Chris Coughlan says the omission of flood overlays from Ballarat’s Planning Scheme has created an environment of uncertainty for the sale and development of land within the municipality.

The civil engineer could also not explain why hundreds of flood-prone properties in Ballarat had not been identified with flood overlays more than a decade after alarms were raised by Corangamite Catchment Management  Authority.

A 2002 Corangamite CMA floodplain strategy revealed more than 900 properties would be affected by a major flood in Ballarat and called for overlays to be written into the Ballarat Planning Scheme by January 2004. The City of Ballarat never did.

Mr Coughlan said the information was available on a central state government database, but for some reason it had never been incorporated into a database at a local level.

He said the state government system was also prone to confusion as it relied on ambiguous definitions of a waterway under the Water Act.

“The planning scheme is the bible for applicants and objectors,” he said.

“We should be able to go into the planning scheme and see all the planning controls before us.

“If there are alarm bells to be rung, let us know about them.”

Under the current system, it is often left to the CMA to object to an application on flood-prone land.

A landowner can input their Ballarat property address into a planning database and not run into any red flags, even when the land has a problem under the act.

Mr Coughlan said he was aware in extreme cases of developments that had been approved as planning applications only to be knocked back when the landowners went to build their houses.

In one case, a Ballarat East resident was unable to sell her established property due to flooding issues.

Mr Coughlan said he did not believe the system was broken, but it could be improved.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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