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Land use buffers help to minimise land use conflict by managing the location and siting of:

  • industries
  • incompatible uses, for example, residential development.

Inappropriate land use and development within buffers can affect the safety, health and amenity of communities and constrain the operation of industries and critical infrastructure.

Refer to Planning Practice Note 92 Managing buffers and land use compatibility to read about policy and tools to manage buffers.

Buffers in state planning policy

State planning policy sets out broad principles for use and development, including consideration of encroachment and land use compatibility.

Clause 13.07-1S Land use compatibility aims to:

  • protect community amenity
  • protect human health and safety
  • facilitate appropriate commercial, industrial or other uses with potential adverse off-site impacts.

Land use and buffers in strategic planning

The priority when planning is to avoid land use conflict in the first place. It is important to ensure that zoning responds to identified risks. This protects operators and surrounding communities.

It also means that sensitive uses and future urban growth can be directed away from areas affected by off-site impacts.

Uses and activities with potential adverse impacts

Clause 53.10 sets out distances that apply to land uses with potential off-site impacts.

These distances are based on the potential adverse impacts of each land use or activity. They represent a threshold distance within which further detailed assessment is needed. This is to determine whether the proposed use or activity is appropriate.

Buffer Area Overlay

The Buffer Area Overlay (BAO) clause 44.08 can be used to prevent incompatible use and development. It can apply to areas affected by the potential off-site impacts of industry, warehouse, infrastructure, or other uses.

The BAO supports the objectives in clause 13.07-1S. The BAO also complements clause 53.10 by ensuring that land use and development around existing industry is appropriate.

Proponents must meet criteria and provide supporting information to apply the BAO. Issues of land use conflict and compatibility may still exist in areas not covered by the BAO.

Planning Practice Note 92 explains the criteria and information required to apply the BAO.

2018 review of land use buffers and separation distances

In 2018, the department commissioned a review of how Victoria's planning system manages land use buffers and separation distances. The report assessed the planning policy and tools in the Victoria Planning Provisions. It also analysed local and international case studies to see how conflicting land uses are currently managed in planning.

After consultation, the Victoria Planning Provisions were updated by amendment VC175 and amendment V10 to include better policy and tools to support decision making.

The review was conducted in response to:

Download the report

Principles to manage buffers in Victoria

The following principles were identified to guide feedback and discussion about managing buffers in Victoria.

Priority should be given to preventing off-site impacts in the first place, acknowledging that even best practice emission control cannot guarantee such impacts will never occur.

Land used for a buffer or within a recommended separation distance should be easily identifiable and information in plain English about potential adverse impacts should be readily available.

The intent of planning provisions and the way in which they operate should be transparent and based on reliable evidence and technical information. Associated responsibilities and decision-making criteria should be made clear.

Requirements across planning and environmental frameworks should be consistent and integrated.

Regulatory requirements are proportionate to the planning and environmental risks.

Land use planning outcomes balance the need to support industry and infrastructure with the need to minimise environmental and human health risks.

Page last updated: 09/06/23


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