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Planning practice notes give technical advice about the planning system, each dealing with separate aspects of the system.

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Subdivision construction activities are a significant threat to stormwater and waterway quality and can cause contamination of land and groundwater. The risk to the environment is particularly high in coastal areas, near streams and creeks, or along a river valley.

Poor construction practices may also damage vegetation or site features that are planned for retention or result in air-borne dust and litter problems that may cause annoyance and affect surrounding areas.

Clause 56.08 outlines site management objectives and standards for residential subdivisions to be achieved prior to and during subdivision construction.

The objectives of clause 56.08 support residential subdivisions to:

  • minimise risks of pollution
  • protect drainage infrastructure
  • reduce waste by encouraging use of recycled materials.

See Planning Practice Note 40: Using the Residential Subdivision Provisions of Clause 56 for more information about when clause 56 applies and how the clause operates.

What are the site management provisions of clause 56.08?

A subdivision application must include a description of how the site will be managed prior to and during construction to minimise environmental risk.

A site environmental management plan (EMP) approach is recommended. The EMP should illustrate the types and locations of environmental protection measures proposed for the site. Detail provided in the EMP should be commensurate with the level of environmental risk posed by the proposed subdivision.

A model EMP kit that explains a step-by-step process on how to prepare an EMP with appropriate protection measures is available in the Clearwater resource library at clearwatervic.com.au.

The site and installed protection measures must be managed on an on-going basis to address changing site conditions.

How to meet the site management provisions

Drainage infrastructure and the receiving waters (that stormwater run-off flows into) must be protected from sedimentation. Sedimentation results from stormwater run-off that washes exposed site soils, unprotected sand, soil stockpiles and mud tracked onto roads into gutters and stormwater drains.

Construction activities can also be particularly harmful to treatment devices for urban run-off, including swales, bio-retention and infiltration systems, leading to clogging of filtration devices.

To control sediment loss and erosion, subdivision construction should, among other things:

  • limit exposed site areas, limit the time areas are exposed and, if possible, undertake higher risk activities during drier periods
  • install flow diversion measures to carry run-off away from exposed site areas
  • use slope stabilisation measures and sediment retention structures
  • establish a minimum number of stabilised access points to control mud tracking.

Subdivision design should meet the Urban Stormwater – Best Practice Environmental Guidelines (CSIRO, 1999) water quality objectives (construction phase) of:

  • effective treatment of 90% of daily run-off equating to a 50th percentile suspended solids concentration of 50 mg/L
  • preventing litter entering the stormwater system
  • limiting application, generation and migration of other pollutants to the maximum extent possible.

Air-borne pollution

Subdivision land must also be managed to protect public amenity and surrounding properties from the impacts of air-borne toxins, dust and wind-blown litter.

Subdivision construction should:

  • retain existing vegetation where possible, and strip and revegetate site areas progressively
  • use stabilisation matting, temporary grassing and other dust suppression methods to inhibit dust generation
  • ensure that bins with lids are located in designated areas near site offices and crib sheds for waste and recycling collection.

Protection of vegetation

On-site vegetation to be retained will need to be safeguarded by:

  • providing temporary barriers to protect vegetation from physical damage from vehicles and machinery
  • protecting roots from excavation or the stockpiling of materials by maintaining root systems, ground water levels and the availability of surface run-off
  • protecting from soil erosion, ponding of urban run-off and exposure to polluted run-off from construction activities.

Waste and pollutant management

Construction activities and the on-site handling and use of construction materials in subdivisions unavoidably produces pollution and waste materials. There are however ways to manage these impacts, including by increasing the efficiency of operations, optimising the use of materials, choosing sustainable products and recycling. Some specific strategies include:

  • Containing washings/slurry from concrete trucks within a designated and clearly signed clean-up area. The clean-up area should be a convenient space, located away from drainage lines, stormwater inlets, waterways, areas of significant flora and fauna and other sensitive areas.
  • The use of a waste minimisation plan to set out how and where separated or co-mingled recycling will be collected on the site.
  • Avoiding over-ordering materials or negotiating with suppliers to take back unused materials.
  • Reusing waste material on the site, such as chipping removed trees to produce usable mulch.
  • Providing clearly signed recycling bins, skips or stockpile areas to ensure that everyone on site knows which materials are to be placed in them and that materials for recycling should not be contaminated with other waste, as it may prevent them from being recycled.

Standard C26 provides that recycled materials should be used in subdivision construction, where practicable. For example, recycled crushed concrete may be appropriate for use in road base or footpath construction.

Advice on how to better manage waste and recyclable materials is available at EPA Victoria: How to Manage Construction and Demolition Waste, EPA Publication 448 – Classification of Wastes and Publication 1834 – Civil Construction Building and Demolition Guide.


This publication may be of assistance to you but the State of Victoria and its employees do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information in this publication.

Page last updated: 01/05/24