In 2013, GOTBA Vic approached the then Victorian Government about developing and implementing new State planning guidelines specific to greyhound facilities, in order to give greyhound participants a right of use to keep greyhounds, without a permit, in certain land zones, if their facilities met certain size and other requirements (which changed depending on zoning). We have continued since 2013 to work on this issue.
We did this because, at the time, and since, participants have had all manner of frustration dealing with councils who, in some cases, appear just to dislike greyhound racing and who found any way possible to obstruct or refuse permit applications for the keeping of greyhounds.
The Minister for Planning has recently released the implemented State planning guidelines (Guidelines), which come into effect today - see https://www.planning.vic.gov.au/policy-and-strategy/planning-reform/new-planning-guidelines-for-greyhound-facilities-across-victoria for the Guidelines and FAQs.
While there is undoubtedly some benefit to participants from them – particularly as to certainty of facility requirements - on the whole, GOTBA Vic is disappointed with the Guidelines.
The intended central tenet - a right of use WITHOUT needing to obtain a permit for participants who met the Guideline objectives – has been removed between the 2016 consultation draft and the final version. A permit is still needed. GOTBA regards this as a fundamental backflip.
Due to the Guidelines, councils may have more difficulty refusing the permit (and a neighbour or community will have no objection or appeal rights) if a person’s permit application shows all of the Guideline’s approved measures are met and the number of racing (older than 6 months) dogs does not exceed:
· 20 in the Rural Living, Green Wedge and Rural Conservation zones;
· 50 in a green Wedge Farming or Rural Activity Zone; or
· 10 racing dogs per hectare.
In a press release dated 25 August 2017, the Minister for Planning states that,
“The Government will closely monitor local councils to ensure the new provisions are being properly applied.”
So will we. But we remain intensely sceptical of a system that still requires permits, based on the past experiences of our participants. That is why we sought a right of use in the first place and that is why we are disappointed with a document and a process that changed so fundamentally, unknown to us, at the last moment.
For now, the Guidelines are in place. We ask that our members tell us about how the Guidelines work in practice, and how councils are dealing with applications under them. We are interested in hearing when the system works and when it doesn’t, and why.
We will not let this issue go, particularly if these Guidelines fail to make the keeping of greyhounds simpler and fairer from a planning perspective.
GOTBA Vic Committee
29 August 2017