Design Review Panel

What is the Design Review Panel? 

The Design Review Panel (DRP) is a panel providing expert advice to the Town in relation to development and other planning proposals. The Panel acts in an advisory capacity only providing advice and recommendations to Council Officers and the decision-maker, and do not make decisions on development applications or any other planning proposal. 

The purpose of the Panel is to provide advice and recommendations that improve the quality of development within the Town and results in excellent design outcomes for the community and the users of buildings, specifically in relation to: 

  • Proposals for buildings that are 3 or more storeys in height above natural ground level; or 
  • Proposals for developments of a value exceeding $2 million; or 
  • Any relevant Scheme Amendment, Structure Plan, Policy, Precinct Plan, Local Development Plan or Design Guidelines, as determined by the Chief Community Planner or Manager Development Services; or 
  • Any other proposal as determined by the Chief Community Planner or Manager Development Services. 

    Who sits on the Design Review Panel? 

    The following members have been appointed to the Town’s Design Review Panel for the period 1 December 2021 to 1 December 2023. 

    Architecture : 

    • Chris Maher 
    • David Barr 

    Urban Design :     

    • Malcolm Mackay 
    • Annelise Safstrom 

    Landscape Architect :      

    • Tony Blackwell 
    • Robin Burnage 

    Building Services: 

    • Rob Mulcahy 
    • Glen Tatam 

    Sustainability (on a project basis, as required): 

    • Madlen Jannaschk 

    What is the benefit of the Design Review Process? 

    Design review, particularly when undertaken early in the design phase, has a multitude of benefits including the delivery of quality design outcomes for the community and users of buildings, a reduction in time and cost through early identification of issues, and progressive certainty for design teams provided through collaborative resolution of planning and design issues. 

    Design review undertaken by suitably qualified and independent experts empowers decision makers to better meet the needs of the community and the delivery of high quality design and projects. 

    The Town of Victoria Park has had a design review process since 2001 which has resulted in the delivery of higher quality buildings and projects within the Town. Experience has clearly demonstrated that where proponents engage with the DRP from an early stage and positively respond to the feedback, then there is a greater likelihood of the development application being approved. 

    How often do meetings occur? 

    The DRP typically meet on a monthly basis, with additional meetings held as required. Meetings will normally occur on a weekday morning (currently 9.30am on the second Wednesday of each month), and typically will run for duration of two to three hours.  Additional meetings will be held for urgent matters, where the number of applications requires, or for any other reason. 

    Depending upon the nature of the development proposal, its complexity and the skill of the proponent to address identified issues, most development proposals would be subject to at least two DRP meetings, sometimes more, prior to lodgement of a formal development application. 

    Once a formal development application is submitted, accompanied by detailed drawings and technical reports, the DRP will meet to review the application and provide feedback to Council Officers and the proponent. 

    Who can attend the meetings? 

    Meetings are attended by the DRP members, Council Officers and invited applicants and consultants. Meetings are not open to the public or Elected Members. 

    Typically four DRP members will be responsible for reviewing and providing feedback on a proposal, being one member from each of the four disciplines. 

    What do I need to provide for a meeting and what is the format of the meeting? 

    A guide for proponents has been prepared to clarify expectations for the meeting. See Design Review Panel – guide for proponents section below.  

    What do I need to provide? 

    Proponents are encouraged to seek the advice of the Design Review Panel from the earliest possible stages of conceptual design.  Therefore, the Panel is happy to consider proposals under consideration by proponents that are in the early stages of formulation through to formally drafted plans.                                                    

    Proponents should provide relevant concept plans/drawings to Council Officers at least two weeks prior to a scheduled DRP meeting.  This then allows Council Officers and the DRP members to review the information prior to the meeting. 

    The concept plans/drawings should be provided in a PDF format or through a large file transfer format such as Dropbox. 

    Following the submission of concept plans/drawings, Council Officers will advise the proponent of whether they are required to attend the meeting, and if so, their allocated attendance time. 

    What is the format of the meetings? 

    At the discretion of the Chief Community Planner or Manager Development Services, DRP meetings generally follow the following format: 

    • Initial closed briefing by Council Officers to Panel members including : 
    1. Site history and background. 
    2. Surrounding context and proposed or approved developments. 
    3. Compliance with planning controls and relevant design criteria. 
    4. Initial Panel comments and discussion. 
          • Proponent attendance and presentation. 
          1. Client provides their vision for the project. 
          2. Design team presentation to explain the project. 

            Note – as the DRP members have had the benefit of receiving and reviewing the plans prior to the meeting, it is not necessary for proponents to provide an exhaustive detailed presentation. 

            • Panel questions and clarifications as required. 
            • Panel comments and discussion, with opportunity for the proponent to discuss matters directly in response 
            • Panel comments summarised and offer closing remarks. 
            • Conclude discussions. 
            • Proponent departs. 

            In most instances a period of 45 minutes to 60 minutes will be allocated for each agenda item. 

            What does the DRP consider? 

            The DRP are to have regard to the applicable planning framework in providing comments and feedback to Council Officers and applicants, including (but not limited to): 

            • Town Planning Scheme; 
            • Local Planning Policies; 
            • Residential Design Codes, Volume 1 & Volume 2 - Apartments 

            The DRP are not bound by the planning framework and therefore may make recommendations or support variations that are outside the applicable development standards for the site, where it is considered that this would deliver a better planning or urban design outcome. 

            Proponents are strongly advised to refer to Local Planning Policy 20 – Design Guidelines for Developments with Buildings above 3 storeys and Local Planning Policy 33 – Guide to Concessions on Planning Requirements for Mixed-Use Multi Dwelling and Non-Residential Developments to gain an understanding of the standards that development proposals are required to demonstrate when seeking a concessions on planning requirements. 

            The Town or relevant Responsible Authority is not bound by advice given by the DRP but shall give due regard to the advice provided. 

            In providing advice to Council Officers and the applicant, the role of the DRP is to identify: 

            • Design strengths; 
            • Design weaknesses; and 
            • Opportunities for design improvements and possible alternative options. 

            Notes of meeting 

            Council Officers will prepare notes summarising the discussion that occurs at the DRP meeting, and will endeavour to forward the notes to proponents within five working days of the meeting. 


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