The Minister for Planning has recently approved a number of important amendments to the Victorian Planning Provisions.

The amendments were approved as part of:

  • Amendment VC110 (gazetted on 27 March 2017);
  • Amendment VC134 (gazetted on 31 March 2017); and
  • Amendment VC135 (gazetted on 27 March 2017).

The amendments include a number of substantive changes and a number of ‘policy neutral’ changes.

Upon gazettal, the amendments have immediate force and effect, subject to applicable transitional provisions. While we do not address the effect of all applicable transitional provisions in this alert, the effect of any applicable transitional provisions will need to be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis.

Proponents, objectors and decision makers should be careful to ensure that, if applicable, the amended provisions are taken into account when formulating, responding to, and determining land use and development proposals.

Amendment VC110

Amendment VC110 implements the Government’s response to the Managing Residential Development Advisory Committee’s recommendations dated 14 July 2016 (which can be accessed here).

With the exception of the Low Density Residential Zone (LDRZ), Amendment VC110 affects all of the residential zones in the Victorian Planning Provisions. The changes approved as part of Amendment VC110 have the potential to significantly impact both individual residential development proposals and broader residential development patterns across Victoria.

The changes are summarised below.

Zone purposes, neighbourhood character objectives and design objectives

  • In the Township Zone (TZ), General Residential Zone (GRZ) and Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ) the purpose ‘To implement neighbourhood character policy and adopted neighbourhood character guidelines’ has been deleted.
  • In the TZ and GRZ, a schedule may specify neighbourhood character objectives. Whereas, in the NRZ a schedule must contain the neighbourhood, heritage, environment or landscape character objectives to be achieved for the area.
  • In the Residential Growth Zone (RGZ):
    • the purpose ‘To ensure residential development achieves design objectives specified in a schedule to this zone’ has been introduced; and
    • design objectives must be specified in the schedule to the zone.
  • In the NRZ, the purpose ‘To limit opportunities for increased residential development’ has been deleted.
  • In the GRZ, there has been a shift of emphasis in one of the purposes to ‘encourage’ (rather than ‘provide’) a diversity of housing types and housing growth ‘particularly’ in locations offering good access to services and transport.
  • The purposes of the Mixed Use Zone (MUZ) have not changed.

Minimum garden areas

  • Clause 72 has been amended to introduce the term ‘Garden area’, which is defined to mean:

An uncovered outdoor area of a dwelling or residential building normally associated with a garden. It includes open entertaining areas, decks, lawns, garden beds, swimming pools, tennis courts and the like. It does not include a driveway, any area set aside for car parking, any building or roofed area and any area that has a dimension of less than 1 metre.

  • In the GRZ and NRZ, a mandatory requirement for a ‘minimum garden area’ to be provided (ranging from 25% to 35% dependant on the size of the lot) has been introduced. This minimum garden area requirement applies to applications for subdivision and to applications to construct or extend a dwelling or residential building.
  • Associated transitional provisions have been introduced and as a result the minimum garden area requirement does not apply if, before 27 March 2017:
    • the dwelling or residential building was constructed;
    • the planning permit application for the subdivision or for the construction or extension of a dwelling or residential building was lodged; or
    • if planning permission is not required, a building permit was issued or a building surveyor was appointed or a building surveyor certifies in writing that substantial progress was made on the design of the construction or extension.

Number of dwellings on a lot

  • In the NRZ, the limit on the number of dwellings per lot has been deleted.

Maximum building heights

  • The following maximum heights have been introduced (subject to applicable exemptions) which apply to buildings used for the purpose of a dwelling or residential building:
    • In the RGZ, the discretionary height requirement is 13.5 m unless there is a maximum height specified in the schedule to the zone. This replaces the height requirements in clause 54 and clause 55.
    • In the GRZ, the mandatory height requirement is 11 m or 3 storeys unless there is a maximum height specified in the schedule to the zone.
    • In the NRZ, the mandatory height requirement is 9 m or 2 storeys unless there is a maximum height specified in the schedule to the zone
  • But for the introduction of new exemptions to the maximum height requirement, the position under the TZ and MUZ is effectively unchanged.
  • In all residential zones (except the LDRZ):
    • for land subject to inundation and for land subject to a Special Building Overlay or Land Subject to Inundation Overlay, the maximum building height is to be calculated as the vertical distance from the minimum floor level determined by the relevant drainage authority or floodplain management authority to the roof or parapet at any point; and
    • new exceptions to the height requirement have been introduced for:
      • replacement of an ‘immediately pre-existing building’ provided the height of the pre-existing building is not exceeded;
      • the circumstance in which there are existing buildings on both abutting allotments that face the same street and the new building does not exceed the building height of the lower of the existing buildings on the abutting allotments;
      • the circumstance in which it is a corner lot abutted by lots with existing buildings and the new building does not exceed the building height of the lower of the existing buildings on the abutting allotments;
      • sites that have a slope greater than 2.5 degrees at any cross section of the site of the building wider than 8 m, which may exceed the maximum building height by up to 1 metre.
  • Transitional provisions in respect of the mandatory height requirement have also been introduced in the NRZ and in the GRZ.

Transitional provisions

  • In all residential zones (except the LDRZ) the transitional provisions which applied to the changes made to clause 55 by Amendment VC100 have been deleted.

Amendment VC134

The changes approved as part of Amendment VC134 affect the State Planning Policy Framework and are partly administrative and partly substantive.

One of the substantive changes has been to amend clause 9.01 (and other clauses in the SPPF) to delete reference to Plan Melbourne (2014) and introduce the new Plan Melbourne 2017-2050: Metropolitan Planning Strategy (2017).

Clause 11 has been amended as part of an interim SPPF restructure to, among other things:

  • Introduce a new clause 11.01, which sets out state-wide policy on settlement networks.
  • Redistribute regionally specific policies. Each regionally specific planning policy (clauses 11.06 to 11.15) is now only included in planning schemes where the policies directly apply, rather than across all planning schemes.
  • Map 1 - Regional Victoria Settlement Framework at Clause 11.05-1 has been replaced with a new Victoria Settlement Framework map in clause 11.01-1 and a new Melbourne 2050 Plan has been introduced at clause 11.06-9.

Associated amendments have been made to clause 10.03 to set out the revised operation of the SPPF.

The waste and resource recovery objective and strategies at clause 19.03-5 have been amended to put more emphasis on:

  • land use compatibility; and
  • protection of surrounding communities and the environment when planning for waste and resource recovery facilities.

The public transport objective and strategies at clause 18.02-3 have been amended to, among other things:

  • facilitate greater use of public transport and promote increased development close to high-quality public transport routes in Metropolitan Melbourne;
  • delete the strategy to establish fast train services to serve key regional cities and townships;
  • provide for a metro-style rail system, with extended tram lines and the establishment of a light rail system.

Other substantive changes include:

  • Updating reference documents to include:
    • Lower Yarra River Study Recommendation Report (2016)
    • Middle Yarra River Study Recommendation Report (2016)
    • Port of Geelong - Development Strategy (Victorian Regional Channels Authority, 2013)
    • Statewide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan (Sustainability Victoria, 2015)
    • Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Implementation Plan (Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group, 2016)
    • Victorian Organics Resource Recovery Strategy (Sustainability Victoria, 2015)
    • Designing, Constructing and Operating Composting Facilities (Environmental Protection Authority, 2015)
  • Including the Principal Public Transport Network 2017 as a new incorporated document at clause 81.01.

Amendment VC135

Amendment VC135 expands the VicSmart fast-track planning process by changing the VicSmart Planning Assessment provisions at Clauses 90 to 95 of the Victoria Planning Provisions.

The amendment introduces additional classes of application into the VicSmart provisions, and increases the ‘cost of development’ threshold of some existing VicSmart buildings and works classes of application.

A number of the changes are summarised below:

  • Increased threshold for building and works (subject to condition), from $50,000 to $1,000,000, in the Industrial Zones.
  • Increased threshold for building and works (subject to condition), from $50,000 to $500,000, in the Commercial Zones, Capital City Zone, and Docklands Zone.
  • Increase the car parking reduction threshold under clause 52.06-3 from 5 to 10.
  • New classes of application for subdivision (subject to condition) and boundary realignment (subject to condition) in all Rural Zones, Special Use Zone (SUZ), Comprehensive Development Zone (CDZ), Priority Development Zone (PDZ), Activity Centre Zone (ACZ), Environmental Significance Overlay, and Design and Development Overlay.
  • New classes of application for building and works (subject to condition) with an estimated cost of up to $250,000 in the Rural Living Zone, Green Wedge Zone, Green Wedge A Zone, Rural Conservation Zone, and up to $500,000 in the Farming Zone, Rural Activity Zone, SUZ, CDZ, PDZ, and ACZ.
  • New information requirements and decision guidelines have been introduced to align with the additional classes of State VicSmart applications.