The Minister for Planning has announced the approval of the ‘Environmentally Efficient Design Local Planning Policies’ for six metropolitan councils (gazetted as the ‘Environmentally Sustainable Development’ (ESD) policies). The announcement follows the release of the combined Panel and Advisory Committee (PAC) report in early 2014. The new policies apply to the municipalities of Yarra, Port Phillip, Stonnington, Moreland, Banyule and Whitehorse.  Maddocks’ Planning and Environment Team was proud to act for the planning authorities before the PAC.

The decision represents a milestone in the long running debate regarding the role of ‘ESD’ in the planning system. While various housing industry associations expressed concern about the introduction of these policies, the PAC accepted Council evidence regarding the costs and benefits of the proposed policies, which seek to implement a ‘best practice’ approach to sustainable built form.

For those interested in the evidence before the PAC, the expert reports can be accessed by clicking here.

The policies provide that ‘The overarching objective is that development should achieve best practice in environmentally sustainable development from the design stage through to construction and operation.’

The policies cover:

  • energy performance
  • water resources
  • indoor environment quality
  • integrated water management and Water Sensitive Urban Design
  • stormwater management
  • transport
  • waste management
  • urban ecology.

Application requirements are summarised in Table 1. An example is set out below from the Moreland Planning Scheme.

Click here to view table.

The ‘BESS’ tool (Built Environmental Sustainability Scorecard) replaced the ‘STEPS’ and ‘SDS’ tools referred to in the exhibited version of the policies.

Please note:

  • single dwellings are exempt
  • transitional provisions mean the policies don’t apply to applications received before 19 November 2015
  • the policies sunset on 31 December 2017 or earlier if superseded by an equivalent provision in the VPP.