Whitehorse City Council

Street Improvement Schemes

Many residential areas in the City of Whitehorse were developed in the late 1940s, before legislation was introduced that ensured developers provided appropriate infrastructure for new residential areas. As a result, some older areas do not have properly constructed streets. These streets often experience road surface, drainage or flooding problems and require constant maintenance.

These unconstructed streets remain the responsibility of property owners whose properties adjoin the street. This includes continual maintenance to ensure the street remains in good condition. Council is not responsible for maintaining these streets.

Council can take over responsibility and ongoing maintenance of unconstructed streets provided they are constructed to a suitable and safe standard in accordance with the requirements of Council.   
The cost to upgrade unconstructed streets to an acceptable standard is shared between property owners and undertaken as part of a Street Improvement Scheme. These schemes are undertaken as a Special Charge Scheme under the provisions of the Local Government Act.  

How Can a Street Improvement Scheme Begin?

A Street Improvement Scheme may be initiated in two ways:   

  • As a consequence of Council’s adopted Program for the Prioritised Improvement of Unconstructed Roads
  • Where Council itself, members of the public, residents, Council officers or external statutory authorities request Council to make infrastructure improvements in a particular area

Once initiated, Council firstly determines whether property owners are interested in obtaining detailed information about upgrading their street through a Street Improvement Scheme. If the majority of owners show interest then a concept proposal including preliminary costs is prepared for further consultation with owners.

Owners are then given an opportunity to indicate whether they support Council formally giving notice of its ‘Intention to Declare a Special Charge Scheme’, which begins the formal process as required in the Local Government Act. A number of further steps are involved in a Special Charge Scheme and are fully detailed in Council’s Special Charge Scheme Policy, which is available at Council’s Customer Service Centres and website.  

How Will a Street Improvement Scheme Benefit Property Owners?

The main benefit for property owners of a Street Improvement Scheme is that Council takes over maintenance and responsibility for the street. A street constructed to appropriate standards can also improve access, reduce dust and noise, improve drainage and enhance visual aspects and amenity of the street.

The design of streets is carefully considered, in conjunction with property owners, to reflect the special characteristics of the neighbourhood.

What Happens When a Street Improvement Scheme is Introduced?

Once a majority of property owners have indicated their support for the proposed scheme, Council will formally notify owners of its ‘Intention to Declare a Special Charge Scheme’. This means the scheme is publicly advertised and owners, who will be apportioned costs, are given an opportunity to lodge a written submission to Council, either supporting or opposing the scheme.

Council must consider all submissions received and may resolve to adopt, modify or abandon the scheme. If Council adopts the scheme, all owners are notified and given the opportunity to refer their submission to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for independent review. VCAT may:

  • Uphold any of the submissions
  • Overrule any submission and approve the scheme with or without modification
  • Abandon the scheme

If the Special Charge Scheme proceeds, contractors carry out construction under the supervision of Council officers.

Who Pays for a Street Improvement Scheme?

Property owners finance Street Improvement Schemes. Council apportions costs based on the Local Government Act and guidelines made by the Minister for Local Government, with funding provided by property owners that are deemed to receive special benefit from the scheme.

Why Do Property Owners Pay and Not Council? 

Street Improvement Schemes are carried out for the benefit of a particular area. In many cases, other property owners have paid for their own street construction through an earlier Street Improvement Scheme or at the time of purchasing their property. They rightly argue that they should not have to pay again for someone else’s scheme.

When Do Property Owners Have to Pay?

The first payment is due one month after works are complete and a final report has been prepared for Council. Property owners will be given the opportunity to pay the Special Charge by either lump sum or installments over a period of time that is specified by Council. The length of time for paying by installments depends on the amount of the Special Charge, but is typically ten (10) years for Street Improvement Schemes. Interest is charged on late payments in accordance with the Local Government Act.

For more information on Street Improvement Schemes, please phone Council on 9262 6333 and ask to speak to the Engineering Department.