On 6 May 2013, the Victorian Government released the approved text of the new commercial planning zones (Commercial Zones) that are intended to take effect on 1 July 2013.  The Commercial Zones consist of two new zones:

  • Commercial 1 Zone (which absorbs the existing Business 1, 2 and 5 Zones); and
  • Commercial 2 Zone (which absorbs the existing Business 3 and 4 Zones). 

The implications of the Commercial Zones are significant.  The most significant of which is the potential for retail and other commercial activities currently restricted under the existing Business Zones to locate outside established activity centres.  This is brought about by:

  • increasing the range of land uses that can be undertaken without the need for a permit; and
  • largely removing the floor area restrictions currently contained in the Business Zones. 

This increased flexibility may alleviate some of the existing pressure on retail and commercial pricing which, in turn, could have flow on effects that benefit businesses and consumers alike. 

Other implications of the Commercial Zones include:

  • reduced complexity of permit applications;
  • increased growth opportunities; and
  • increased flexibility for supermarkets to locate in a much broader range of locations. 

It is important to note that, despite the increased categories of land uses capable of being undertaken without a permit, the requirement to obtain a planning permit when subdividing land and/or constructing or carrying out works is retained in the Commercial Zones. 

Commercial 1 Zone

Key changes brought about by the Commercial 1 Zone include:

  • the range of land uses that may be undertaken without the need for a permit will be broadened;
  • floor area restrictions currently contained in the Business Zones will be removed; and
  • supermarkets will be allowed without the need for a permit. 

Commercial 2 Zone

Key changes brought about by the Commercial 2 Zone include:

  • increased opportunity for restricted retail and commercial businesses;
  • floor area restrictions for office and some retail uses will be largely removed (which may create new opportunities for office and retail growth); and
  • supermarkets up to 1800m² will be allowed without a permit. 

Victorian Planning Zone Reforms

Introduction of the Commercial Zones is part of the sweeping planning zone reforms announced by the Minister for Planning in 2012.  The reforms have significant implications for commercial, industrial and residential property in Victoria. 

As part of the reform process, extensive stakeholder consultation was undertaken and an advisory committee was appointed to ensure that all relevant impacts of the reforms were properly considered.  The reforms will ultimately:

  • delete nine existing zones;
  • create five new zones; and
  • amend 12 existing zones.

The introduction of the Commercial Zones and the broader planning zone reforms will be of interest to developers, business operators and owners of commercial and residential property.