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2.1 Planning schemes and legislation

The Act establishes the statutory framework for Victoria’s planning system, including objectives for planning and the planning framework established by the Act. It provides the machinery that gives effect to state planning strategies and policies.

The planning system and planning schemes in particular, are important tools that enable land use strategies to be implemented and effect positive change to the built environment. However, the planning system alone cannot provide for all desired outcomes.

The drive to implement an increasing range of outcomes through planning schemes (such as local policies that address social issues or energy efficiency) is challenging the traditional scope of planning and its relationship to other regulatory systems. This is particularly so given that not all controls about the use and development of land are controlled by planning schemes. Legislation other than the Act can have a significant regulatory impact on use and development, such as the Building Act 1993, the Heritage Act 2017, the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998, Road Management Act 2004, Water Act 1989 and the Sex Work Act 1994.

For efficient regulation that avoids conflict and duplication, the introduction of any new planning provision must be considered in the context of the wider landscape of available legislation.

2.2 What is the VPP?

The VPP is established under Part 1A of the Act as a statewide reference document or template from which a planning scheme or planning scheme provision must be sourced or constructed.

The VPP is not a planning scheme and does not apply to any land. It is a statutory device to ensure that consistent provisions for various matters are maintained across Victoria and the construction and layout of planning schemes is always the same.

The VPP contains a complete set of standard planning provisions for Victoria and provides the standard format (including clause numbering) for a planning scheme.

See description below.
Diagram 2: The structure of a planning scheme

2.3 The VPP principles

The six principles for the VPP are set out below. They describe the ideals against which the benefits and implications of any proposed change to the VPP and planning schemes should be measured.

User focused

Provisions are user focused and provide transparent and understandable pathways to navigate the planning approval process. Planning schemes are structured so users can easily and intuitively access relevant information, using spatial means wherever possible.

Consistent

Provisions are written and applied in a logical and consistent way, regardless of the content, so that a provision is easily understood and applied. Drafting rules and technology ensure that new and amended provisions are created in a way that maintains the integrity of the system and delivers the desired policy outcomes.

Proportional

Provisions and approval processes only impose a level of regulatory burden proportional to the planning and environmental risk of the proposal. Simple and low risk applications are assessed against objective criteria through a code assessment process.

Land use focused

Provisions focus on land use and development and do not conflict with or duplicate other legislation and regulatory instruments.

Policy and outcome focused

Provisions ensure requirements have a clear policy basis and are planning outcome driven. Technology and information data is applied to achieve strategy clarity and to create and apply requirements in a precise way.

Digital ready

Provisions are optimised for efficient access and processing of planning information, including through better technology, digital interfaces and the user experience, to move from document driven to database driven planning schemes.

2.4 How a planning scheme is created from the VPP

The Ministerial Direction The Form and Content of Planning Schemes applies to the form and content of all planning schemes and any amendment to a planning scheme.

A planning scheme or planning scheme amendment must be prepared and presented in accordance with the style guide set out in Annexure 1 of the Ministerial Direction and be written in plain English.

A planning scheme is constructed by taking the VPP as a basic template and:

  • including a Municipal Planning Strategy (MPS)
  • including any relevant regional policies and appropriate local planning policies into the Planning Policy Framework (PPF)
  • selecting and including the zones and overlays needed to both reflect local circumstances and implement planning policy objectives
  • including appropriate content in schedules to the zones, overlays and some particular provisions to achieve local planning policy objectives
  • including appropriate content in the schedules to the General Provisions and the Operational Provisions (including listing any incorporated documents in the schedule to Clause 72.04).

A planning scheme must not include a provision other than a provision selected from or enabled by the VPP.

An amendment to a provision of the VPP will also amend any planning scheme that includes the provision. When a VPP amendment is approved, all affected schemes are amended at the same time.

Diagram 3: Creating a planning scheme

2.5 The elements of a planning scheme

The main elements of a planning scheme and their function are described in Table 1 below. The headings in a planning scheme provision will reflect the elements relevant to the purpose of the provision.

Table 1 – Elements of a planning scheme

ElementFunction
Policy Sets out the strategic basis for the exercise of discretion under other provisions.
Purpose States the purpose of a provision and the planning outcomes it seeks to achieve. This guides a user to the correct application of a provision.
Application Specifies the area or classes of use or development a provision applies to.
Objective Specifies the outcomes a decision under a provision should seek to achieve. Objectives can be general or specific to a particular class of use or development regulated by a provision.
Permit requirement Specifies classes of use and development that must obtain a planning permit.
Requirement Specifies the limits of a discretion or right under a provision or the conditions under which it must be exercised. Requirements can include:
  • built form requirements (such as height or garden area)
  • requirements to include a condition on a particular type of permit (section 62(1)(a) of the Act)
  • procedural requirements such as for (section 6(2)(hb) of the Act):
    • VicSmart applications
    • Exemption from notice and review
    • Specific notice requirement settings (sections 52(1)(c), 52(4) and 52(5) of the Act)
    • Referral requirement.
Standard Specifies an outcome or level of performance that is considered acceptable having regard to the objectives of a provision. A standard can be quantitative or qualitative. In some cases, a standard can be linked to an objective, so that if the standard is met the objective is deemed to be met.
Application requirement Specifies the information that must accompany a class of application for a planning permit or a request for approval. These requirements should be proportionate to the planning risks associated with an activity and derive from the objectives, standards or decision guidelines relevant to the discretion being exercised.
Decision guideline Sets out, in policy neutral terms, matters that, if relevant, should be considered by the decision-maker when exercising a discretion.
Meaning of terms In addition to the Act, the planning scheme lists definitions for common terms used in decision making, including general, land use and sign terms.

Disclaimer

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: 10/01/24