Major reforms approved for Victorian planning schemes

August 2018

Source: DELWP, State Planning Policy Framework Advisory Committee

Last week, the Minister for Planning gazetted Amendment VC148, which seeks to provide clarification, reduce repetition and provide a standard policy format within the Victorian Planning Provisions. The Amendment forms part of Victoria’s ‘Smart Planning Reform Program’, an ongoing state-led initiative to simplify the Victorian planning system so that it is more efficient, accessible and transparent for users.

The amendments have a twofold effect on the Planning Scheme, comprising improvements and clarifications to the way that the Planning Scheme operates as well as reducing the regulatory requirements for certain types of applications. A summary of the amendments is provided below.


Improvements/clarification to the operation of the Planning Scheme

The most significant change introduced as part of VC148 is the replacement of the ‘State Planning Policy Framework’ with the ‘Planning Policy Framework’ (PPF). This is the first stage of a series of reforms that aims to provide one integrated and overarching policy framework, with the Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS) and Local Policy Framework (LPPF) to merge and form part of the PPF in future.  However, at this stage the MSS and LPPF continue to apply while further work is undertaken to translate and integrate them.

Other amendments of note include:

  • Amendments to Clause 37.03 (Urban Floodway Zone), Clause 42.01 (Environmental Significance Overlay), Clause 42.02 (Vegetation Protection Overlay), Clause 42.03 (Significant Landscape Overlay), Clause 43.01 (Heritage Overlay, Clause 43.02 (Design and Development Overlay), Clause 43.04 (Development Plan Overlay), Clause 44.01 (Erosion Management Overlay), Clause 44.02 (Salinity Management Overlay), Clause 44.03 (Floodway Overlay); Clause 44.04 (Land Subject to Inundation Overlay), Clause 44.05 (Special Building Overlay) and Clause 52.28 (Gaming) to enable their schedules to specify additional matters including purposes, objectives, application requirements or decision guidelines.
  • Integration of VicSmart provisions into the relevant zone, overlays and particular provisions (previously located separately in Clauses 90 to 95).
  • Replaces ‘advertising sign’ with ‘sign’. Contrary to previous case law, VC148 defines a ‘sign’ as a use but clarifies that a permit is not required for its use. However, a permit may still be required for its ‘development’, subject to conditions set out in Clause 52.05 and 62.02.
  • Introduction of Clause 73.02 (Sign Terms) which provides new definitions for ‘display area’ and ‘sign’.
  • Amends Clause 43.01 (Heritage Overlay) to require the schedule to the overlay to specify a statement of significance for new heritage places. This will assist with transparency and accessibility to relevant documentation.
  • Restructures ‘particular provisions’ into provisions that apply to a specific area (Clause 51), provisions that require, enable or exempt a permit (Clause 52) and general requirements and performance standards (Clause 53).
  • Clarification of wording in Clause 43.04 (Development Plan Overlay) confirming that an application for a Planning Permit is exempt from advertising and third party review rights if a Development Plan has been prepared to the satisfaction of the Responsible Authority.
  • Introduction of Clause 45.12 (Specific Controls Overlay) which can be used to apply specific controls designed to achieve a particular purpose in extraordinary circumstances.


Improvements to the efficiency of the Planning Scheme

Amendment VC148 also includes amendments to planning permit triggers by removing unnecessary regulation that can delay businesses. The amendments remove the requirement to obtain a Planning Permit for the following:

  • Use of land for a ‘convenience shop’ and ‘takeaway food premises’ in an Industrial 1 Zone (Clause 33.01).
  • Use of land for ‘takeaway food premises’ and ‘service industry’ if the use is setback a specified distance from sensitive zones and uses in an Industrial 3 Zone (Clause 33.03).
  • Reduction in car parking requirements under Clause 52.06 (car parking) for a new use in an existing building in the Commercial 1, Commercial 2 and Activity Centre Zones for up to 10 car parking spaces (subject to meeting specified conditions). This is particularly useful for shopping centres that have changing tenancies.

Other amendments resulting in increased efficiencies include:

  • Application of Column B car parking rates (previously only applied in Parking Overlay) areas if any part of the land is identified as being within the ‘Principal Public Transport Network Area’. A map will be incorporated into the Planning Scheme nominating the area.
  • Amendment to Clause 52.29 (Land Adjacent to a Road Zone) to exempt third party notice and review rights.
  • Deletion of Clause 52.12 (Service Station), Clause 52.13 (Car Wash) and Clause 52.14 (Motor Vehicle, Boat or Caravan Sales).

Amendment VC148 will not benefit from transitional provisions (i.e.) the amendments will apply to all current and future planning permit applications, as it is not anticipated that the amendments will have significant adverse implications. The deletion of some permit triggers (as described above) may mean that an application may no longer require a Planning Permit and permit applicants may be eligible for refund of the application fee.

Stay tuned for further updates on this matter. For more information or advice on how Amendment VC148 may impact current or future planning permit applications, please contact Anna Thang or your existing SJB Planning contact.

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