A Voluntary Planning Agreement, or VPA, is a legally binding agreement between a developer and a local council or government agency. The agreement stipulates that the developer will provide certain benefits or contributions to the community in exchange for approval of their development application.
VPAs were introduced in Australia as a means to facilitate negotiations between developers and councils, and to ensure that developments contributed to the broader community. The agreements can include a range of contributions, such as funding for community infrastructure, public open spaces, affordable housing, and environmental protection measures.
In order to enter into a VPA, a developer must submit a proposal to the local council or government agency outlining the proposed development and the contributions they are willing to make. The council or agency then assesses the proposal and negotiates the terms of the agreement with the developer.
Once a VPA is agreed upon, it is included as a condition of the development application approval. This means that the developer must comply with the terms of the agreement in order to proceed with their development.
VPAs can be a beneficial tool for both developers and communities. They provide developers with certainty around the conditions of their development application approval, and enable them to demonstrate their commitment to the community. They also allow communities to benefit from the development process, by ensuring that developers contribute to community infrastructure and services.
However, there are also potential pitfalls to VPAs. Some have criticized the process as opaque, suggesting that negotiations between developers and councils may not be transparent. There are also concerns about the potential for VPAs to give developers too much influence over planning decisions, and for councils to prioritize development over the needs and wishes of their community.
Despite these concerns, VPAs have become an increasingly popular tool for negotiating development applications across Australia. As a professional, it is important to be aware of the concept of VPAs and their importance in the planning and development process. By staying up-to-date on the latest developments in this area, copy editors can ensure that their content remains relevant and informative to their readers.