Wyndham City’s Planning Investigation Unit is responsible for detection, investigation and enforcement of contraventions of the Wyndham Planning Scheme, Planning Permit conditions, Enforcement Orders and Section 173 Agreements registered on land titles.
These contraventions may be the result of complaints received by Wyndham City or observations of Authorised Officers. To ensure a consistent and fair process all Planning Investigations into alleged contraventions of the Wyndham Planning Scheme are conducted in accordance with Wyndham City’s Planning Enforcement Policy.
Planning enforcement policy
Under this policy where a contravention is detected and it is possible for that contravention to be rectified by obtaining a Planning Permit or by compliance with a permit condition(s) the offending party is afforded the opportunity to do so either by submitting the required application in order to obtain a permit or refraining from continuing the contravention or by complying with Planning Permit condition(s).
This policy requires that a (one) written notice regarding the contravention(s) with a set time frame (grace period) in which to comply (other than urgent situations, prohibited activities, and circumstances where in the opinion of the Responsible Authority there is a demonstrated amenity impact on surrounding properties) be issued in the first instance.
Where a person or company has previously received a warning for the same type of offence a penalty may be imposed without any further warnings being issued.
Where there is a failure to comply within the grace period allowed in the warning letter Planning Infringement Notices are issued with a further period in which the contravention must be resolved. These requirements are listed on the infringement under the heading Action Required.
Failure to pay the Infringement Notice and or rectify the contravention within the period (s) stated on the infringement Notice results in the matter proceeding by way of summons before a Magistrates Court and or the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
In some circumstances Authorised Officers may proceed by way of summons to appear before a Magistrates Court without first issuing an Infringement Notice. In most cases a letter warning that a summons is to be issued will be sent to the offending party.
What is required once a contravention is brought to the attention of a property occupier or owner?
Upon receipt of a written notification of a contravention the recipient should contact the Authorised Officer who signed the letter if any clarification of the contravention is required.
The requirements set out in the warning notice must be completed within the stated grace period (s) of the letter or alternatively an application in writing for an extension of time in which to comply must be obtained from the Authorised Officer who signed the letter.
Applications for an extension of time in which to comply are not as of right and will require justification as to why additional time is required.
Planning infringement notices - who can be fined?
Under the provisions of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 any person who contravenes a Planning Scheme, a Section 173 Agreement or a Planning Permit condition may be prosecuted.
Where there are multiple owners of a property that is the subject of a contravention penalty notice or other prosecution procedures will be issued against each of the listed owners.
In the case of a company, all listed directors of the company as well as the company itself may be prosecuted. Planning Infringement Notices unlike other types of penalty notices have two sections, being the penalty amount and the remedial requirements.
In order to resolve the matter once a Planning Infringement has been issued you must satisfy both of these components. If you pay the penalty but fail to meet the remedial requirements or vice versa the infringement remains active and either further infringement notices may be issued or the matter may advance to a court hearing.
Failure to pay the penalty amount within the prescribed time (28 days) results in additional costs being added to the Infringement Notice. The Infringement may also be referred to a collection agency with additional costs imposed. Planning Investigation Officers may also issue Infringement Notices under the Local Government Act.
Appeal against an Infringement Notice
You may lodge an appeal against the issue of an Infringement Notice if you believe that an Infringement Notice should not have been issued. The grounds where by an Infringement Notice may be withdrawn are that there was a failure to follow Wyndham City’s Planning Enforcement Policy or that you believe that no offence was committed.
Appeals against an Infringement Notice must be lodged in writing on an internal review of infringement application form. These forms are available on Wyndham City’s website or you may contact Wyndham City to have one sent to you within 28 days of the date of issue of the notice. Appeals must contain full details of the offence or a copy of the issued infringement notice must be supplied. Appeal documents should be sent to the Internal Review Officer at PO Box 197 Werribee Victoria 3030. (Payment and other details are listed on the back of Infringement Notices).
Entry to Properties or Premises
Entry to properties or premises
In most cases an Authorised Officer will make arrangements to inspect a property with the consent of the owner or occupier. Should such consent not be given the Authorised Officer may apply to a Court for a Warrant or serve a Notice of Entry giving two days clear notice of the intention to enter a property to the owner or occupier under section 133 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987. An Authorised Officer is able to request police assistance in gaining access to a property where a two day notice has been issued.
Section 137 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 provides that a person is guilty of an offence and provides for a penalty of 60 penalty units for any person who obstructs an Authorised Officer or Member of the Police Force in taking any action under section 133. An Authorised Officer who enters land under the provisions of section 133 may under section 135 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 take any action that is necessary to find out if a person has contravened the Act, the regulations, a Planning Scheme, a permit condition, an enforcement order or an agreement under section 173. Such action may include: taking photographs and measurements, making sketches or recordings and taking and removing samples.
Identification of Authorised Officers
Authorised Officers of Wyndham City carry an identification badge and photo identification authority card. This identification should be produced by the Authorised Officer when interacting with you in person. If you are in any doubt about the officer’s identity you should ask to see their identification.
You may also contact the investigations office on 9742 0820 to verify the identity of any person stating that they are an Authorised Officer of Wyndham City.
What you can expect when involved in an enforcement issue?
Planning Investigation officers will assist you in understanding the non-compliance issue involved. Assistance and guidance on how to rectify the contravention or completing application documents may be provided, however officers are not responsible for obtaining or supplying the information required in order to submit planning permit application documents.