Legal Insights

Making planning documents available: Updated DELWP Planning Practice Note 74

By Melanie Olynyk, Briana Eastaugh

• 19 January 2022 • 4 min read
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The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has updated its Planning Practice Note 74 on Making planning documents available to the public (January 2022) to reflect the recent changes to the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (P&E Act) which introduced the ‘public availability requirements’.

The Practice Note sets out what documents must be made available under the P&E Act and how they are required to be made available.

It confirms the prohibition on publishing personal information online only applies where planning documents are made available on an internet site and does not apply to physical inspection of, or posting or emailing, the documents. However, it notes councils must still comply with privacy laws when making planning documents available and so continues to caution against disclosing contact details (such as phone number or email address) without consent.

When publishing planning documents online, the Practice Note alerts councils to the following:

  • personal information can include information such as financial information and opinions on particular matters
  • the requirement to remove personal information unless consent is obtained applies to any individual in the documents, including architects and consultants
  • people should be given a clear choice as to whether or not they consent to publication of their personal information through an opt-in process.

It lists other privacy considerations of note, such as:

  • only collect personal information which is necessary
  • inform individuals of why/how their information is used and disclosed (which is done through a privacy collection statement)
  • secure personal information.

As for the latter, it suggests online users be required to ‘click their agreement’ to the following condition before they are able to access documents:

The information contained in the [name of document] is provided for the purpose of the planning process as set out in the Planning and Environment Act 1987. The information must not be used for any other purpose. By entering this Internet site you acknowledge and agree that you will only use the document for the purpose specified above and that any dissemination or distribution of this information is strictly prohibited. If you have any questions, please contact [insert contact details].

It also contains example privacy collection notices for permit applications as follows:

Online version:

Your [application / submission / objection] and the personal information on this form is collected by [responsible authority name] for the purposes of the application process as set out in the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (PE Act).

If you do not provide your name and address, [responsible authority name] will not be able to consider your [application / submission / objection].

Your [application / submission / objection] will be published on [responsible authority] Internet site [insert address of responsible authority] and be available at the [responsible authority] office for any person to inspect on request in accordance with the public availability requirements in the PE Act. Copies may also be made available on request to any person for the relevant period set out in the PE Act.

Your personal information will not be disclosed on the [responsible authority] Internet site without your consent except in accordance with the PE Act.

You must not submit any personal information or copyright material of any other individual without their informed consent.

You can request access to your personal information by contacting [the area of the responsible authority that holds the information].

Hardcopy version:

Your [application / submission / objection] and the personal information on this form is collected by [responsible authority name] for the purposes of the application process as set out in the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (PE Act).

If you do not provide your name and address, [responsible authority name] will not be able to consider your [application / submission / objection].

Your [application / submission / objection] will be available at the [responsible authority name] office for any person to inspect on request in accordance with the public availability requirements in the PE Act and copies may be made available on request to any person for the relevant period set out in the PE Act.

You can request access to your personal information by contacting [the area of the responsible authority that holds the information].

You can read our 2021 article on those recent changes to the P&E Act.

Looking for more information on updates to the Planning Practice Note 74?

Contact our VIC Local Government Team

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