Building approvals’ rapturous response

A RISE in building approvals received a rapturous response at Wellington Shire Council’s Tuesday meeting, including an animated performance from at least one excited councillor.

The latest building permits report issued for October 1 to December 31, 2017, shows 297 permits were issued with an estimated value of almost $30 million.

The figures reveal that building approvals were up by 41 on the previous three months, showing continuing strong interest in development throughout the shire, particularly Sale.

Much to his colleagues’ amusement, at last Tuesday’s council meeting Cr Darren McCubbin waxed lyrical about the “beautiful set of figures”.

While he acknowledged that figures for Port Albert (one permit approval with an expected value of $471, 021) were “disappointing”, he said figures for the four development hot spots “were most exciting”.

The biggest winners in the development stakes were Sale (23), Stratford (13), Longford (21) and Maffra (9), with developments at an estimated value of $11,165,477, $2,944,442, $1,817,172 and $1,433,343 respectively.

Cr McCubbin partly attributed the high number of permit approvals to the shire’s building department staff.

“The building department [has] demonstrated empathy with what is going on in our wonderful shire,” he said.

To which a smiling mayor Carolyn Crossley replied: “I’m sure we’re all feeling the love”.

The sentiment was back up by the latest statutory planning applicant and objector survey results, which showed the council’s customer satisfaction rating was improving.

The majority of applicants who responded to last year’s survey rated the overall experience of dealing with council’s planning department as “excellent” (62.69 per cent) or “good” (28.36 per cent), compared to last year survey result of 47.4 per cent and 42.1 per cent.

As would be expected, objectors answering the same questions were slightly less satisfied, with 27.7 per cent rating the experience as “excellent”, and 36.36 per cent rating it as “good”.

Cr Gayle Maher said the results were overall positive, and showed that the “planning department is willing to listen”.

The survey results will now be used as a benchmark for further customer satisfaction surveys, and to “refine and improve customer service and statutory planning processes”.