At Milford Planning we work hard to apply our local knowledge, insight, and experience within the region to effectively deliver our projects – whether they be large or small.
The preparation of development applications is the staple for Milford Planning, and our team has been doing so successfully for years. The importance of a well considered and robust development application strategy cannot be understated.
We have developed a streamlined approach to preparing, lodging and managing applications – from inception to completion – which manages both risk and cost.
We have strong relationships with Councils and State Government Agencies, and are proactive and pre-emptive in tackling and resolving issues early. Our track record in delivering approvals with this approach speaks for itself.
This breadth of services includes all development approvals provided for under the Planning Act 2016 and associated (and superseded) legislation – such as reconfiguring a lot, material change of use, operational work, and all of the relevant corresponding compliance assessments.
Streamlined Applications – Townsville City Council’s Plan Right Accreditation
Our firm’s planners were the first town planning consultants accredited under the Townsville City Council’s streamlined assessment program: Plan Right. This enables Milford Planning to provide for the fast tracking of certain approvals, as well as significantly reduced approval turn-around and enables discounted Council application fees.
Environmental Approvals and Planning
We manage approvals for projects that have the potential to cause environmental harm or nuisance if not properly planned and managed, and others that are located in places where planning is necessary to ensure that impacts on sensitive environmental values are acceptable.
Certain projects may involve aspects that could have the potential to cause environmental harm or nuisance – such as quarries, feedlots, batching plants, or heavy industry. Others may be located on sites that have certain sensitive environmental values such as wetlands, remnant vegetation, watercourses, or marine environments. These issues may involve the State in the assessment of applications – or else cause the need for specific Environmentally Relevant Activity approvals or permits – which increases the complexity of applications, and critically the need for a well conceived and pragmatic application strategy to respond to these issues.
Some projects require Commonwealth assessment under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 – fundamentally because they have the potential to have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance. In our part of the world, this can be projects that might have an impact on the Great Barrier Reef or involve impacts on endangered or vulnerable plants or animals. We have made applications of this nature, and are familiar with the Department and its processes for the assessment of such applications.
Whatever the environmental approvals aspect of the project, we can draw from our experience to give practical advice about the best way to deal with the issue in the context of the relevant codes, requirements, legislation, and policies.
Marine and Tidal Works Approvals
Marine and tidal works have a specific process approval process involving State and Council assessment. We have expertise in dealing with these types of approvals, and have delivered:
- planning approvals strategy for the Ross Creek Promenade for Townsville City Council, in the Townsville City Waterfront Priority Development Area;
- approval for the Guthalungra Aquaculture project for Pacific Reef Fisheries;
- approval for the Palm Island rock wall replacement;
- approval for the new floating pontoon for Palm Island; and
- approval for the new jetty at Orpheus Island Resort, and associated bed levelling/ dredging.
Due Diligence Reporting
Pragmatic, accurate, timely and well considered planning advice is critical to a successful property purchase if you are expecting to develop it in anyway.
We are experts at educating our clients about what they need to know, when they need to know it.
The extent of our advice at this critical stage is flexible: it may be that you require a formal report or statement about a particular property, or it may be as simple as a phone call or brief meeting on site.
Land Use Planning and Policy
Planning Instrument Preparation – Planning Schemes, Policies and Tools
We are passionate about creating good planning tools – and in our books, this means that they are concise, easy to use, and are responsive to place and purpose.
We know that we need clear, rational, and well written planning documents – we use them every day. More than that though, we understand how important it is that policy and plans respond to their setting and place and context: a planning scheme for Richmond should be different to that for Charters Towers, which should be vastly different again to that of the Whitsundays – because they all have different strengths and circumstances. You cannot write a plan or policy without understanding its application, and to do that you need to experience the place. Where possible, we like to write policy in the place that it will apply to – which also has tangible community benefits.
Technology is changing the way that planning can be done – and we are alive to this opportunity, through the preparation of plans that are most effectively digested online, through the use of digital media to explain planning process and ideas, and also by conceptualising web applications to clearly communicate planning requirements.
We are delighted to be involved in numerous planning studies, master plans, and the creation of planning tools – recent examples include:
Hinchinbrook Shire Planning Scheme (2015 – 2017);
- Richmond Shire Planning Scheme (2020);
- Planning Innovation and Improvement Fund concept preparation and pitch – for the Charters Towers Regional Council and Hinchinbrook Shire Council (2017);
- development of the Flood Zone web-app for Hinchinbrook Shire (2017, in partnership with GP One Consulting);
- preparation of the master plan for the Ayr Industrial Estate for Burdekin Shire Council (in partnership with GHD);
- preparation of the master plan for Castle Hill (Townsville) (in partnership with Counterpoint Architecture); and
- creation of a development assessment framework to assist James Cook University in regulating development on its campuses (2017).
Mapping and Urban Design
Maps and master plans are important planning tools – and we have expertise in preparing them for a wide variety of applications and uses.
Mapping is an essential planning tool that presents information spatially. We utilise GIS software to prepare maps and plans for a variety of purposes – such as master plans, opportunities and constraints mapping that might surmise relevant State Government and Council Overlay issues, or high level mapping that can be used at a regional level to identify sites with certain attributes or a combination of attributes (i.e. proximity to infrastructure and a minimum size, and flood free, and vegetation free).
Master Planning and Design
Milford Planning has a strong background in design, with George Milford originally trained in design and practicing since 2003. This has provided the backbone for our team to:
- prepare and deliver several local and proto area plans on behalf of Townsville City Council for North Ward and the Hyde Park Medical Precincts;
- develop strategies and plans for the growth and expansion of several of James Cook University’s Precincts; and
- inform the master plans developed for Mount Low, Bushland Beach, Mount Margaret and the Townsville Distribution Precinct.
Our preferred means of delivering these services is through a collaborative approach with the project’s surveyor and engineer – resulting in robust, well considered and cost effective concept development.
Subdivision Layout Plans
We have capacity to quickly and cost effectively prepare subdivision layouts for urban infill subdivision projects, and offer this as a service for our clients. This results in the streamlined preparation of the development applications, minimising cost in engaging several consultants for relatively simple projects. The volume of infill projects that we have successfully delivered over the past decade has given us certainty about prospects, interpretation of policy, solutions to development problems and a comprehensive understanding of what has been achieved elsewhere.
Expert witness town planners can be necessary for certain appeals and proceedings in the Planning and Environment Court and the Land Court.
George Milford has acted as an expert witness in a number of court matters, including both appeals and land resumption matters.
We are well versed in planning appeal strategy, expert reporting process, the process and preparation of joint expert reports and the delivery of expert evidence in court.
Applications that are impact assessable are required to undergo public notification, inviting comment and submissions from the public, including neighbours and other interested parties.
A submission that has been ‘properly made’ must be considered by the local authority in deciding the application, and as such, this is the critical opportunity for a third-party to influence the assessment process.
We have prepared submissions and assisted in advocacy for our clients about various development applications over the past decade – and recommend the professional preparation of these submissions to maximise prospects for a successful outcome.
Planning Training and Education
We enjoy educating our clients – and the public – about good planning and planning process in our day to day work of developing plans and dealing with development applications. We have a strong training culture and are committed to assisting young planners through our student program, which is fundamentally designed to give student planners real world planning experience though part time planning work matched to their studies.
To that end, we have cultivated our skills to deliver planning training and education for various scenarios such as: allied professionals needing to know about changing planning requirements for certain development issues; school classes wanting to learn about maps, zones and plans; Councillors wanting to better understand their role in making decisions about planning matters; or institutions and local government wanting to learn more about how to implement best planning practice in administering the assessment of applications.
We welcome the opportunity to deliver our tailored planning training that is relevant and interesting and cost effective – and fundamentally achieves a better understanding of planning process and good planning outcomes.
Public Engagement and Consultation
We think that engagement with the community – whether it be for a new development that is proposed on a site, or some new or changed policy like a new planning scheme – is best approached as an opportunity to add value to a project by capturing different ideas and perspectives, rather than being perceived as only a ‘risk’ to the delivery of a project.
Consultation needs to be responsive to its context and fundamental purpose – and for development applications we generally recommend ‘starting the conversation’ early with stakeholders that are clearly affected – before the public notice signs appear next door.
Timeliness, accountability, loyalty, honesty, and integrity are values that are embodied in the way that we approach our role and relationship with clients. We pride ourselves in the streamlined delivery of our projects and ease to do business with, and are front footed and proactive in how we do our work and deliver our projects.
The understanding of our client’s timeframes and objectives is the cornerstone to how we approach our projects – enabling us to deliver practical and pragmatic advice that achieves certainty around commercial outcomes.
As town planners, we rely on our strong professional networks and considerable experience in the regions to assemble and tailor multidisciplinary teams to deliver our client’s projects. We regularly partner with surveyors, architects and building designers, lawyers, economists and valuers, and other town planners to seamlessly deliver complex projects. These relationships mean we can offer a complete range of services that are specifically tailored to specific planning issues or challenges.
We take professional development seriously, and are on the front foot with the latest in planning reform and policy change. We encourage our staff to volunteer on the boards and committees of community, industry, and sporting organisations as we genuinely believe in contributing to the community in which we live and work.