Planning and Environment Act 1987

The purpose of this Act is to establish a framework for planning the use, development and protection of land in Victoria.

You can view the Planning and Environment Act 1987 on the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website.

Scope of the Act

The Act sets out procedures for preparing and amending the Victoria Planning Provisions and planning schemes. It also sets out the process for obtaining permits under schemes, settling disputes, enforcing compliance with planning schemes and permits, and other administrative procedures.

The main functions of the Act are to:

  • set the broad objectives for planning in Victoria.
  • set the main rules and principles for how the Victorian planning system works.
  • set up the key planning procedures and legal instruments in the Victorian planning system.
  • define the roles and responsibilities of the Minister, councils, government departments, the community and other stakeholders in the planning system.

The Act is 'enabling' legislation. This means that it does not precisely define the scope of planning, how it should be done or the detailed rules that should apply to land use and development. These and other more detailed matters are dealt with by ‘subordinate’ instruments under the Act, meaning these instruments get their legal weight from the Act. These instruments include the Victoria Planning Provisions, planning schemes, regulations and Ministerial directions.

The main parts of the planning system established by the Act include:

  • the system of planning schemes that sets out how land may be used and developed.
  • the Victoria Planning Provisions that set out the template for the construction and layout of planning schemes.
  • the procedures for preparing and amending the Victoria Planning Provisions and planning schemes.
  • the procedures for settling disputes, enforcing compliance with planning schemes, and other administrative procedures.

History of the Act

The Planning and Environment Act 1987 became the Act on 27 May 1987. But it did not come into operation until 16 February 1988.

The Act replaced the Town and Country Planning Act 1961, which replaced the Town and Country Planning Act 1958.

View these Acts on the AUSTLII website.

Key roles and responsibilities

The Minister for Planning has overall responsibility for the Act and the planning system.

Is both a planning and responsible authority for certain parts of Victoria (that is, responsible for preparing and administering planning schemes).

There are also parts of the Act that are administered by other Ministers, either separately or jointly with the Minister for Planning.

Read more about Ministerial planning permits.

DELWP manages the legislation for planning, environmental assessment, and land subdivision.

Provides planning policy and administrative support to the Minister for Planning.

Generally both planning authorities and responsible authorities (that is, responsible for preparing and administering planning schemes).

Represent the interests of the communities within their municipalities.

Implements initiatives of Plan Melbourne to deliver growth area planning, structure planning and infrastructure coordination in Melbourne's inner and outer suburbs as well as regional centres.

More about the Victorian Planning Authority

VCAT deals with disputes relating to planning permits and certain other planning decisions.

The Attorney-General is responsible for VCAT.

More about VCAT

Manages the panels appointed to give independent advice to the Minister for Planning and councils on submissions to planning scheme amendments.

Planning Panels Victoria

Amending Acts

Since the Planning and Environment Act 1987 was passed it has had numerous amendments. The following table sets out some of the amending Acts that had a major impact on the Act.

Act Name

Act Number

Act Purpose

Planning and Environment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Act 2015

35/2015

To provide for a new system for levying and collecting contributions towards the provision of infrastructure and make related consequential amendments.

Planning  and Environment Amendment (Recognising Objectors) Act 2015

30/2015

To require responsible authorities and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to have regard to the number of objectors in considering whether a permit application may have a significant social effect.

Building a Better Victoria (State Tax and Other Legislation Amendment) Act 2014 (Part 6)

40/2014

Among other things, the purpose of this Act is to impose a levy for the privilege of making certain planning permit applications.

Part 6 of this Act comes into operation on 1 July 2015.

Planning and Environment Amendment (General) Act 2013

3/2013

Implements Government election commitments and introduces process improvements and red tape reductions, abolishes the Development Assessment Committees and establishes the Planning Application Committee.

Planning and Environment Amendment (Growth Areas Authority and Miscellaneous) Act 2013

21/2013

Expands the role of the Growth Area Authority for the declaration of growth areas and the criminal liability of bodies corporate and clarifies responsibility for the ongoing administration and enforcement of permits issued under Division 6 of Part 4 of the Act.

Planning and Environment (VicSmart Planning Assessment) Act 2012

53/2012

Introduces a streamlined assessment process for straightforward planning permit applications to be set up in planning schemes.

Planning and Environment Amendment (Schools) Act 2012

2/2012

Introduced to exempt a school from paying a growth areas infrastructure contribution.

Planning and Environment Amendment (Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution) Act 2011

31/2011

Amended Part 9B to provide for work in kind agreements as a means of meeting a contribution payment.

Planning and Environment Amendment (Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution) Act 2010

23/2010

Inserted new Part 9B into the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to provide for a growth areas infrastructure contribution for land in a designated contribution area.

Planning and Environment (Development Contributions) Act 2004

101/2004

Improved the effectiveness and workability of the existing development contributions system that was introduced in 1995.

Planning and Environment (General Amendment) Act 2005

81/2004

Required the authorisation of planning scheme amendments and enabled planning permits to be amended not just for minor amendments. It also introduced a process for the amendment of planning permits.

Planning and Environment (Metropolitan Green Wedge Protection) Act 2003

43/2003

Provided for the protection of the metropolitan green wedges by the establishment of the Urban Growth Boundary.

Planning and Environment (Restrictive Covenants) Act 2000

100/2000

Introduced amendments that improved the coordination of decision making on permit applications where the land is burdened by a restrictive covenant.

Tribunals and Licensing Authorities (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 1998

52/1998

Amended the Act as a consequence of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998. The amendments related to review of decisions and enforcement.

Planning and Environment (Planning Schemes) Act 1996

77/1996

Reformed the structure of planning schemes.

Planning and Environment (Development Contributions) Act 1995

50/1995

Inserted new Part 3B into the to provide a mechanism for the levying of development contributions.

Related regulations

In conjunction with the Planning and Environment Act 1987, the Planning and Environment Regulations 2015 and the Planning and Environment (Fees) Regulations 2016 form the overall legal framework for the planning system in Victoria.

More about planning regulations

Other relevant legislation

The main purposes of this Act are to:

  • regulate building work and standards
  • provide for accreditation of building products, construction methods, building components and building systems
  • provide a system for issuing, administering and enforcing building and occupancy permits
  • regulate building practitioners and plumbers
  • regulate plumbing work and standards
  • provide for accreditation, certification and authorisation of plumbing work, products and materials
  • regulate cooling tower systems
  • limit the period within which building and plumbing actions may be brought

The primary purpose of this Act is to require the environmental effects of certain types of works to be assessed prior to commencement.

The main purposes of this Act are to:

  • provide for the protection and conservation of places and objects of cultural heritage   significance
  • to provide for the registration of these places and objects
  • establish a Heritage Council
  • establish a Victoria Heritage Register

The primary purpose of this Act is to establish a legislative framework for the operation of local government in Victoria.

This Act sets out the procedures for the subdivision and consolidation of land and the creation and removal of easements or restrictions over land. It also regulates the management of common property and the operation of bodies corporate.

The primary purpose of this Act is to establish the legal framework for the development of subordinate legislation, including the provision of public participation in the process.

The purpose of this Act is to establish a Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal as a 'one-stop-shop' for dealing with a range of disputes, including those relating to domestic building works, planning permits and owners corporation matters.