MATTHEW Guy's fingerprints are everywhere, along the coast, in regional centres in the CBD, on Melbourne's fringes in the city's green wedges - he has become Victoria's most active planning minister in more than a decade.
Next Friday public submissions will close on one of the biggest proposed shake-ups in Victoria's planning system since the Kennett era, changing Victoria's planning zones that determine what you can build and where.
He describes it as ''proactive and reformist'' planning, fixing a jammed planning system, meeting the challenges of a growing population and stimulating economic growth.
Others are less sanguine. Port Phillip Council was furious when the minister recently stripped a large chunk of planning control from the council for the massive Fishermans Bend urban renewal project. Guy will be responsible for all development applications over four storeys and with more than 10,000 square metres in floor space - his extensive planning control in the CBD only kicks in at developments over 25,000 square metres.
The anger extends to residents in the CBD and Southbank who are unhappy the minister approved massive new towers metres from their windows, and there has been strong and building resentment more generally to the minister's proposed planning changes in ''Melbourne's lungs'' - the city's 12 green wedges.
While some academics have also criticised Guy's planning agenda, the plucky and ambitious 38-year-old is not taking a backward step.
It was an angry Guy who walked up to the lectern at a Property Council summit in Melbourne a week ago and took aim at ''academia, who have never left the protection of that profession'' and at the ''cheer squad … who think it is a terrific form of social engineering to devise a planning system that is forward thinking for about two years''.
Guy was unapologetic in telling the friendly industry crowd he was changing planning. ''In my view this portfolio is becoming an economic one rather than an academic one.''
And unlike his mild and often jovial predecessor Justin Madden or even his more measured boss, Premier Ted Baillieu, Guy does not mind throwing a few punches.
He told The Saturday Age most of the criticism of his planned green-wedge changes was coming from the usual suspects.
Of the criticism from the Nillumbik area he says, ''I grew up in that area and they are the same people who opposed anything from a Liberal government 30 years ago. They are ideological arguments thrown up in the mix of a planning context.''
In 2009 as the then opposition spokesman Guy - who some have touted for a leadership role - had strong words for industry groups when they criticised the opposition.
''I couldn't be more scathing of their lapdog approach to the government on this bill,'' he said.
Coupled with his aggressive style has come an aggressive reform agenda. Planning will be much different in this state long after Guy has moved on. He moved quickly after taking office to release hundreds of hectares of new land around regional centres including Traralgon and Moe for new housing.
In June he expanded Melbourne's girth by 6000 hectares as part of the conveniently titled ''logical inclusions process'' into Melbourne's green wedges. In July he rezoned 240 hectares of mostly South Melbourne to kick off the Fishermans Bend urban renewal project, the largest urban infill project in Australia that far eclipses the size of the Hoddle grid.
But it is the structural changes to planning where Guy's legacy will most be felt. Few would argue Victoria's bloated and bureaucratic planning system was due for overhaul - but many are divided on what is being changed and how.
While the government has made it easier to build in coastal areas and has announced a streamlined process for some planning applications called VicSmart, the biggest changes were announced in July with the proposed overhaul of Victoria's planning zones.
The changes are extensive. In farming areas, subdivisions and new rural stores would become easier.
A purpose of the farming zone ''to protect and enhance natural resources and the biodiversity of the area'' would be scrapped and ''to retain population to support rural communities'' inserted.
One sweeping change proposed in the ''rural conservation zone'' is to remove a ban on building anything other than listed permitted and prohibited uses, and replace it with a clause requiring a permit for ''any other use'' - one critic says this limits uses to ''the imagination of the dodgiest developer''.
In residential areas, the proposed changes mean bed and breakfasts, shops, offices, medical centres and churches could be built in some areas without a permit, with businesses needing to be 100 metres from a commercial or mixed-use zone and on the same street frontage - in effect, stretching the local shops into the nearby residential areas with residents having no notice.
One of the proposed zones the ''neighbourhood residential zone'' aims to ''restrict housing growth in areas identified for urban preservation'', but it is unclear how widely this zone would be used. Councils will have 12 months to determine where the new residential zones will apply and then the changes will need to be approved by the planning minister.
The most contentious changes are those affecting Melbourne's 12 green wedges, the non-urban areas, known as Melbourne's lungs.
Green wedges would be allowed to include sawmills, petrol stations, display homes, schools and churches.
Warwick Leeson, of the Liberals for Green Wedges group and a member of the Liberal Party for decades, likens the proposed changes to taking a wrecking ball to art galleries because you are not much into art.
''There is enormous local community resentment and people are getting really scared about what this could mean,'' he says.
He say if the proposed changes go through, the Baillieu government will feel a backlash at the next election. ''I can't understand why the Premier does not step in,'' he says.
Anger at the proposed changes affecting the green wedges has been so strong that even the widow and daughter of Liberal Party great and founder of Melbourne's greens wedges, Sir Rupert Hamer, have joined the fight. Julia Hamer said her late father would be ''horrified'' and ''surprised'' at what the government was doing to the green wedge areas.
The Friends of Nillumbik community group says the proposed planning changes are ''ill-considered, lacking in strategic justification, and driven by an economic agenda that has little regard for other land use planning imperatives like landscape protection''.
Criticism is coming from many directions.
Ranald Macdonald, former managing director of The Age and member of the Flinders Community Association, writes with David Gill, former president of the shire of Mornington, in the paper today that the proposed planning changes will mean ''Melbourne's green wedges will be despoiled, urban boundaries threatened, national parks and reserves handed over to the whims of private enterprise, and the appealing and productive Mornington Peninsula with its towns and villages of special character and charm will be turned over to developers''.
RMIT planning expert Michael Buxton has been working on planning for four decades and is shocked by the proposed changes - ''there has never been anything like this''.
''This is a concerted effort by far-right lobby groups and the Liberal government to wreck planning systems and open cities and regions up to any type of development. It's open slather,'' he says.
Buxton is concerned about changes in commercial zones that he says threaten Melbourne's traditional strip shopping centres by opening up development opportunities, and the proposed new residential zones that would allow more opportunity for ''retail and office use''.
Guy recognises the proposed changes are not perfect. He says when the public submissions close, an expert panel will consider the proposed zone changes and responses and make recommendations. ''Yes, there will need to be some tweaks, no doubt about that and, yes, there are some areas that people are asking for clarification on, but at the end … the structure has been well accepted,'' he says. ''We're not belligerent, I'm not closed-minded, our intention has actually been to help councils and therefore there will be some revisions that they recommend.''
Overall, Guy is surprised there has not been more uproar over the planning changes. ''Considering it is so comprehensive, I am surprised how well it has been accepted.''
He adds there will be a separate Mornington Peninsula planning statement that would have ''state-level controls'' to protect the area.
Some are not convinced.
Ian Wood, of community group Save our Suburbs, says the planned changes are aimed at increasing competition and retail productivity and make it harder for councils to ''plan particular uses in particular areas'', with businesses seeping into residential areas.
''It will make the job of councils more difficult,'' he says. ''There is more complexity and that will be confusing.''
Opposition planning spokesman Brian Tee says the planning changes process is ''underhanded and rushed'' and will change Victorian communities and the ''look and feel of our city'' for generations.
Others welcome Guy's approach. Jennifer Cunich of the Property Council says: ''It is vital that reform to the planning system is based on sound economic principles and objectives. Victoria's planning system is a tool and a lever which should be used to stimulate economic growth based on direction and leadership from government.''
Cunich says Guy is proving to be ''a progressive planning minister and appears committed to the difficult task of balancing community needs against the economic needs of the state''.
Do not expect Guy to slow down or back away from his planning offensive.
''It's a busy job, I have made it a busy job. Justin Madden didn't make it a busy job, he preferred to be reactive and deal with matters that come in. I have clearly gone out and sought change,'' Guy told The Saturday Age.
''The planning system needs reform and I am not reforming it because it is popular, I am reforming it because it is necessary and it's right.''
Jason Dowling is city editor.