Moonee Valley Council and Planning Minister Matthew Guy at odds over planning issues

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Moonee Valley Leader: Moonee Valley Council and Planning Minister Matthew Guy at odds over planning issues. Linh Ly. 5 September 2014

Minister for Planning Matthew Guy outside State Parliament. Picture: Mark Stewart.

Moonee Valley councillors unleashed a scathing attack on State Planning Minister Matthew Guy over ongoing planning disputes at last week’s meeting.

But Mr Guy hit back, questioning council decisions and labelling their planning work “substandard”.

Councillors took aim at Mr Guy’s handling of the Moonee Valley racecourse rezoning, new residential zones, Moonee Ponds Activity Centre Zone, East West Link and Flemington racecourse redevelopment.

In particular, they remained furious at finding out about his decision to rezone Moonee Valley racecourse through media reports rather than via direct consultation.

Cr Nicole Marshall said they invested significant resources to participate in an advisory committee process only for Mr Guy to rezone the land, which was not one of the committee’s recommendations.

Cr Jim Cusack said it had become a “pattern” for Mr Guy to ignore recommendations that were counter to his want, as seen with his approval of the East West Link.

“The minister has clearly shown he only wants to work with the Moonee Valley Racing Club,” he said.

But Mr Guy said he did not need to inform councils ahead of time on all planning decisions he made.

“When was the last time a council told me in advance that they would do a rezoning? The answer is they don’t tell me in advance,” he said.

When asked why a comprehensive development zone had been applied to the Moonee Ponds site when it wasn’t recommended, Mr Guy replied: “The advisory committee isn’t the minister, I am.”

“The process is concluded. I left it for four years to run a course and they’ve been a part of that process. It’s come to me to make a decision,” he said.

“We can go on making this an issue for a decade, we can run around in circles on planning matters or we can get a decision to move on … that’s what I believe is the best thing to do.”

Cr Narelle Sharpe said it was “disgraceful” and “absurd” Mr Guy hadn’t made decisions on the Moonee Ponds Activity Centre Zone, which they had been waiting on since 2012, or the residential zones, which came into effect on July 1.

“It’s got to stop and we have to have decisions made by the minister, that’s his job,” Cr Sharpe said.

But Mr Guy said an independent committee found their submission on the residential zones “substandard”.

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