SHIRE of Mundaring's planning and environment teams were in the spotlight recently when they bagged two prestigious titles at the annual 2016 Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) Awards for Planning Excellence.
The Shire's approach to implementing bushfire and biodiversity controls received the overall award, known as the Planning Minister's award. The project was also an award winner in the category of Improving Planning Processes and Practices.
The PIA Awards acknowledge excellence and showcase leading practice across a range of planning disciplines and sectors.
Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Throssell said that striking the right balance between bushfire mitigation and biodiversity protection is a community expectation.
While the Shire's Local Planning Scheme provides a sound platform to reconcile environmental and bushfire objectives – early implementation challenges became apparent, particularly for heavily vegetated properties.
"The Planning and Environment teams collaborated with key stakeholders and developed a suite of implementation tools and services which encourages early consideration of bushfire risk and environmental factors in the design process," Mr Throssell said.
Described as an innovation that enhances development and land management outcomes in Mundaring, the Shire's approach is also a model that could easily be adapted and implemented by other local government agencies.
Implementing the controls early in the design process had generated several benefits. Planning approvals had been streamlined and there had been a reduction in costs for landowners and delays associated with revising plans and relocating dwellings.
"We've been able to better manage landowners' expectations upfront and remind them of their role as custodians of important environmental assets," Mr Throssell said. "It's had a positive flow-on effect for everyone."
Shire of Mundaring will now go up against the winners from other states in Sydney on 3 May 2017.