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Planning support services
The Regional Planning Hub supports rural and regional councils plan and develop their municipalities and shires.
The program is managed by the Regional Planning Partnerships team and provides statutory and strategic planning support and resources that can:
- assist councils with peak workloads and priority developments
- build land use planning capacity and capability within councils
- improve planning schemes to simplify processes and approvals
- help with significant regional planning projects.
Our team works with rural and regional councils to grow and realise economic development. Help is available for:
- statutory planning
- strategic planning
- professional development
- help for flood-affected councils.
Requests for assistance do not have to meet all eligibility criteria, however requests that meet all or a higher number of criteria will be prioritised.
All requests for assistance will be subject to Regional Planning Hub resourcing.
1. Need for assistance
Demonstrate a need for support in statutory or strategic planning that will deliver outcomes on the ground.
For example, a council may be unable to meet statutory or other prescribed timeframes due to:
- an increase in planning permit applications or planning scheme amendments
- specific skills required outside of available resources
- staff shortages (leave arrangements and turnover periods unable to be absorbed internally)
- an emerging unforeseen critical planning need.
Demonstrate a need to improve the council’s planning and economic development capacity.
For example, assistance will create capacity and resilience to enable a council to respond to and manage its planning function by:
- building land use planning capabilities in councils
- removing unnecessary permit triggers
- improving planning scheme or process
- providing clarity and guidance for decision making.
In assessing eligibility criteria 1, the Regional Planning Partnerships team will consider previous Regional Planning Hub support provided to the council.
2. Statutory and strategic alignment
Assistance will support a matter of demonstrated sound planning need.
- a legislative or statutory requirement
- a matter that has clear links to state, regional or local policy
- strategic work identified from a planning scheme review or strategy
- a matter that aligns with Victorian Government priorities.
3. Social, environmental and economic impact
Assistance will contribute to regional Victoria’s liveability.
- provides significant environmental or social benefits
- supports essential or vulnerable communities, industries or sectors
- contributes to maintaining the liveability and character of regional Victoria.
Assistance will support economic development and recovery in regional Victoria.
- supports council assessment of a planning permit application for a priority development
- makes changes to the planning scheme that remove triggers or streamline approvals (e.g. VicSmart) to facilitate development (make it easier or faster)
- provides clear policy direction for decision makers and certainty for investment.
4. Planning improvement
Assistance will deliver an improvement to a planning scheme or process.
- updates the planning scheme with current local content and policy
- implements completed strategic planning work that will improve decision making
- removes redundant provisions
- streamlines policy within one or across multiple planning schemes.
5. Delivery and implementation (for strategic planning request only)
Demonstrate an ability to deliver and a commitment to implement.
For example, the council must show:
- available resourcing to contribute to the delivery of the strategic planning project (for example, ability to be on a project working group, provide feedback and review within agreed timelines)
- commitment to prioritising implementation of the strategic planning project when the Regional Planning Hub support is complete.
Help for flood-affected councils
48 of Victoria’s 79 local councils and their communities were impacted by the October 2022 flooding event including:
- Alpine Shire Council
- Ararat Rural City Council
- Benalla Rural City Council
- Buloke Shire Council
- Campaspe Shire Council
- Central Goldfields Shire Council
- City of Ballarat
- City of Greater Geelong
- Colac Otway Shire Council
- Corangamite Shire Council
- East Gippsland Shire Council
- Gannawarra Shire Council
- Glenelg Shire
- Golden Plains Shire Council
- Greater Bendigo City Council
- Greater Shepparton City Council
- Hepburn Shire Council
- Horsham Rural City Council
- Indigo Shire Council
- Loddon Shire Council
- Macedon Ranges Shire Council
- Mansfield Shire Council
- Mildura Rural City Council
- Mitchell Shire Council
- Moira Shire Council
- Moorabool Shire Council
- Mount Alexander Shire Council
- Moyne Shire
- Murrindindi Shire Council
- Northern Grampians Shire Council
- Pyrenees Shire Council
- Strathbogie Shire Council
- Swan Hill Rural City Council
- Wangaratta Rural City Council
- Warrnambool City Council
- Wodonga Council
- Yarriambiack Shire Council.
Flood-affected councils can seek additional help through the Regional Planning Hub until June 2024.
Additional support is available for:
- statutory planning assistance
- reimbursement of statutory planning fees for initial planning permit applications as a direct result of the October 2022 flooding event.
Eligibility criteria for flood-affected councils
Requests for assistance will be assessed and prioritised against 2 eligibility criteria.
- a need for assistance with statutory planning due to the October 2022 flooding event
- that assistance will support economic development and recovery from the October 2022 flooding event.
For reimbursement of statutory planning fees request must include evidence for waived fees up to a maximum of $45,000 per council.
Apply for support
If your council meets the eligibility criteria you can submit an application online.
Contact us to request access via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How we assess requests
Priority is given to requests for assistance that meet all or most of the eligibility criteria.
Priority will also be provided to councils that have not recently received previous Regional Planning Hub support, funding or assistance from other government departments or agencies, or can demonstrate the request may benefit a broader region.
There is no limit to the number of requests that a council can make. Each application is assessed against the criteria and prioritised accordingly.
The timeframes vary for each request. We will assess your request against the criteria once all required information has been provided.
We will contact you to discuss the support or resources that will be provided to meet a supported request.
Requests that are not supported
We endeavour to support as many requests for assistance as possible. If your request wasn’t supported, it may be due to:
- You may have received previous Regional Planning Hub support
- You may already be receiving other funding or assistance from government departments or agencies
- Your request for assistance may have limited links to the Regional Planning Hub program or is more suited to receive support from other planning reform initiatives or other government departments or agencies
- Insufficient Regional Planning Hub resourcing to action your request
You can contact us to get more information about why a request wasn’t supported and to discuss other opportunities through planning reform initiatives.
About the Regional Planning Hub program
The Regional Planning Hub program supports a planning need in rural and regional councils first identified through stakeholder feedback to the Planning and Building Approvals Process Review Discussion Paper (2019) by the Commissioner for Better Regulation.
The program is part of the Victorian Government’s commitment to implementing the Commissioner for Better Regulation’s planning reforms.
There are no physical hubs, Regional Planning Partnerships team members are located in a number of regional offices.
Services available through the program
Rural and regional councils can access support and resources for statutory and strategic planning work. This may be in the form of Regional Planning Partnerships team assistance, engagement of contractors/consultants managed by Regional Planning Partnerships or direct funding to councils. Councils can also access support and resources for professional development, such as funding for accredited training courses and attendance at relevant conferences.
In addition, the Regional Planning Partnerships team is working in conjunction with other Victorian Government departments and agencies to provide support and resources to councils.
Page last updated: 10/10/23