Victoria’s Big Housing Build program is a $5.3 billion investment in social and affordable housing, delivering over 12,000 new dwellings:

  • including 9,300 new social housing dwellings
  • replacing 1,100 existing dwellings

The investment, delivered throughout metropolitan and regional Victoria, will boost total social housing supply by 10%.

Amendments VC187 and VC190, gazetted on 1 December 2020, introduced changes to the Victoria Planning Provisions and all planning schemes to streamline the planning process and support economic recovery through the creation of thousands of jobs, and the rapid delivery of much needed social and affordable housing.

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Amendment VC187

Introduces a new particular provision, Housing by or on behalf of the Director of Housing at clause 53.20 to streamline the planning permit process for housing projects by or on behalf of the Director of Housing.

The Minister for Energy, Environment, and Climate Change is the responsible authority for assessing the development of 10 or more dwellings and apartments. Proposals for less than 10 dwellings will be assessed by the local council.

View clause 53.20

View Amendment VC187

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Amendment VC190

Introduces a new particular provision for projects delivered through Victoria’s Big Housing Build at clause 52.20. The Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change is the responsible  authority for assessing all proposals made under this new provision.

The prompt implementation of the provisions will support the creation of thousands of jobs and boost Victoria’s economic recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

View clause 52.20

View Amendment VC190

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More information

The following information provides greater detail about the amendments and the Big Housing Build.

What is Amendment VC187?

Introduces a new particular provision, Housing by or on behalf of the Director of Housing at clause 53.20 to streamline the planning permit process for housing projects by or on behalf of the Director of Housing.  It also makes the Minister for Energy, Environment, and Climate Change responsible for assessing the development of 10 or more dwellings and apartments.

What does it deliver?

The amendment will have beneficial social effects by supporting Government initiatives to substantially increase investment in, and development of housing through:

  • the $500 million investment to build and upgrade community and public housing as part of the Building Works stimulus package
  • the Building New Homes to Fight Homelessness “1000 homes” initiative which will help Victorians escape family violence, homelessness and life on the streets by building 1,000 new homes
  • the $185 million Public Housing Renewal Program to redevelop public housing estates
  • other new homes delivered by Homes Victoria and community housing providers.

Why is it needed?

There is a pressing need to dramatically increase the supply of social and affordable housing in Victoria, with 48,000 households on the Victorian Housing Register.  There is also a need to ensure housing is appropriate by replacing deteriorating housing stock and ensuring that homes meet the needs of those who need them.

Who approved the amendment?

Minister D’Ambrosio, the Minister for Energy, Environment, and Climate Change has approved the amendment.  This is necessary to avoid any conflict or perceived conflict of interest that may arise with the Minister for Planning assessing applications made on behalf of the Minister for Housing, because he is the same person.

When were the changes delivered?

The changes are effective from 1 December 2020, the day the Notice of Approval appeared in the Government Gazette allowing immediate facilitation of currently funded projects.

Is the amendment a temporary measure, or permanent?

The provision is permanent.

Will this provision support a specific group of Victorians?

The amendment supports the provision of housing for a range of social and affordable housing needs including families, the elderly and homeless people. For example, the amendment will support quicker delivery of the ‘1000 homes’ initiative to help Victorians in need of safe and secure housing by facilitating the construction of 1,000 new homes for people on the Victorian Housing Register (the public housing waitlist).

Do planning provisions make requirements for tenure or types of housing?

The planning rules do not control the tenure, social status or proportion of funding for the development of housing however the new planning provisions do require an assessment against development standards based on Victoria’s residential codes to protect the amenity of adjoining neighbours.

The planning provisions do not set requirements for the size, number of bedrooms and type of dwellings such as social, affordable or private housing. These decisions will be made by Homes Victoria on behalf of the Director of Housing based on the demand for housing of a particular area.

What is the role of Homes Victoria?

Homes Victoria was established to deliver the Government’s objectives to increase social and affordable housing. One of Homes Victoria’s roles is to fast-track new social and affordable housing and plan for sustainable, long term growth in housing.

Where an application is made on behalf of the Director of Housing a letter is required from the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing or Homes Victoria as evidence to qualify for a streamlined assessment under clause 53.20.

Note: On 1 February 2021 the Department of Health and Human Services separated into new departments; the Department of Health and Department of Families, Fairness and Housing. The reference to Department of Health and Human Services in clause 53.20 applies to the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.

Operation of clause 53.20, Housing by or on behalf of the Director of Housing

Is a planning permit required?

Yes. The clause provides a streamlined planning permit process for the development of dwellings including dwellings in an apartment development.

Clause 53.20 applies when a planning permit is required to construct or extend a dwelling or front fence under the provisions of a residential zone (other than the Low Density Residential Zone) and the permit application is made by or on behalf of the Director of Housing.

Does a development assessed under this provision need to be government funded?

Not necessarily. However, a permit application must be made by or on behalf of the Director of Housing. This would normally mean that there is some government funding included, but not in all cases. Where an application is made on behalf of the Director of Housing a letter is required from Homes Victoria as evidence to qualify for a streamlined assessment under clause 53.20.

What types of housing can be assessed under clause 53.20?

The provision establishes a special, streamlined planning process for the development of dwellings. This can include single dwellings, two or more dwellings on a lot in the form of dual occupancies, villa units or townhouses and apartment developments.

The type or mix of dwellings (i.e social or affordable) is not a consideration of the planning permit process.

Where does the provision apply?

The provision applies to land in a General Residential Zone, Mixed Use Zone, Neighbourhood Residential Zone, Residential Growth Zone and Township Zone. It does not apply to land in a Low Density Residential Zone.

Does the provision make requirements for the use of land for a dwelling?

A permit is not required to use land for a dwelling in a residential zone. The requirements of the applicable residential zone must be met.

Do the zone permit requirements apply?

Yes. A permit requirement to construct or extend a dwelling (including multiple dwellings and an apartment), or to construct or extend a front fence applies.

The maximum building height requirement specified in the zone applies, and a minimum garden area must be met.

Do ResCode and the Better Apartment Standards (clauses 54, 55 and 58) apply?

No. Clause 53.20 requires assessment against development standards at clause 53.20-6 for all development and 53.20-7 for apartments. The residential development standards are based on the existing ResCode and Better Apartment Standards with modifications to suit social and affordable housing and a streamlined assessment process.

The development standards are designed to allow for flexible decision making. The standards are not mandatory. A standard should be met but can be varied at the discretion of the responsible authority using the decision guidelines at clause 53.20-8. Other policy and decision guidelines in the planning scheme are excluded from the assessment process (clause 53.20-3).

Does VicSmart apply?

A VicSmart requirement at clause 71.06 will apply if specified in the zone or other relevant provision.

Do the local schedules of a residential zone apply?

No, except for a building height requirement.

Can a single dwelling or dwelling addition be developed using this provision?

Yes.

Do planning overlays apply?

Yes. Where land is affected by an overlay these requirements apply allowing consideration of matters such as heritage, environment and design. An overlay may make requirements such as building height limits or a requirement for an environmental audit that must be met.

An application is exempt from the notice and review requirements that may be required by an applicable overlay.

Do the carparking requirements in ResCode or clause 52.06 apply?


No. The development standards of clause 53.20-6.9 apply. They set requirements for the provision of car spaces, dimensions and access.

What are the requirements for notice and review?

Clause 53.20 exempts notice (advertising) and review (VCAT) of decisions by third parties such as neighbours. An applicant can seek review of a decision.

An application is exempt from the notice and review requirements that may be required by an applicable overlay.

Do the referral requirements in a planning scheme apply?


Yes, the requirements to refer permit applications set out in clause 66 apply.

How will the amenity of neighbours be considered?

Clause 53.20-6 includes development standards (based on ResCode and Better Apartments) to protect the amenity of adjoining neighbours. This includes standards for:

  • Front setbacks (reduced)
  • Side and rear setbacks
  • Walls on boundaries
  • Overshadowing open space
  • Overlooking.

Some requirements such as setbacks to adjoining dwellings are greater than existing standards for apartment buildings.

How will the design of buildings fit into the character of the neighbourhood?

The building height requirements of the zone must be met. Where a Neighbourhood Character or other overlay specifies siting and amenity requirements for design and character of buildings these requirements must be met.

A design response is required to be submitted with the application. The design response must explain how the proposed design responds to any relevant planning provision and derives from and responds to the urban context report.

Will the buildings be energy efficient?

Yes. Clause 53.20-6.5 requires dwellings to be energy efficient.

Homes Victoria has committed to new dwellings meeting a 7 Star NaTHERS energy rating which is greater than standard requirements.

Are there transitional provisions for clause 53.20?

No. The provision applies from 1 December 2020. There may be current permit applications that meet the application requirements of clause 53.20-1. These must be assessed and determined using clause 53.20. Where the application is on behalf of the Director of Housing a letter is required from the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing or Homes Victoria as an application requirement (53.20-5).

Where an application has already undergone notice (advertising) and the application is assessed under clause 53.20 the exemption from notice and review (clause 53.20-4) applies. This means that any objectors to the application cannot seek review of the application decision to VCAT. It is recommended that all submitters to an application be notified promptly by the responsible authority when the application is to be considered using clause 53.20.

If the Minister for Energy, Environment, and Climate Change is the responsible authority who do I contact to make an application?

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will receive and administer applications where the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change is the responsible authority for an application.

Permit applications must be submitted to permits online.

Who will assess and make a decision on an application?

Council is the responsible authority for an application to construct or extend up to nine dwellings on a lot.

An application assessed under clause 53.20 has streamlined requirements that affect how council will assess and make a decision on a permit application. including:

  • Exemption from notice and review
  • Assessment against the development standards for clause 53.20.
  • Specified provisions do not apply, including:
    • PPF state, regional and local policies
    • Application and decision guidelines of the zone and clause 65
    • Clause 54, 55 and 58 (ResCode and Apartments)
    • Local schedules to the residential zones
    • Car parking requirements at clause 52.06.

The Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change is the responsible authority for an application to construct or extend 10 or more dwellings on a lot and for any apartment development.  Clause 72.01 specifies as the responsible authority for this type of application.

Why is the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change the responsible authority instead of the Minister for Planning?

The Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change is the responsible authority to construct or extend 10 or more dwellings on a lot and for any apartment development applications under clause 53.20 to ensure that there is no perceived or actual conflict of interest between the Minister for Planning’s discharge of powers because he is also the Minister for Housing.

There is a benefit for larger developments such as 10 or more dwellings and apartment developments to be processed and determined to ensure a prompt and consistent decision that is coordinated and centralised. Planners at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will undertake the assessment process.

How will the council be aware of an application where the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change is the responsible authority?  

As part of the pre-application process Homes Victoria will contact and liaise with councils before lodgement of an application.

Where the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change is the responsible authority, DELWP will refer the application to council to provide an opportunity to comment. If comments are not received within 14 calendar days from the date of referral, a decision may be made.

I have a current permit application that can be assessed using this clause. What can I do?

Existing permit applications that meet the ‘entry’ requirements of this provision can be assessed and finalised using 53.20. It is recommended that if the application had undergone a notification process any objectors/submitters to the application be notified of the new process and the status of the application and their objection.

What if there is an existing planning permit for the land?

Existing permits can be acted upon or amended. An application can be made for a new permit using 53.20 if the ‘entry’ requirements of the provision are met.

What does Amendment VC190 do?

The amendment makes changes to the Victoria Planning Provisions and all planning schemes by introducing a new particular provision, Victoria’s Big Housing Build at clause 52.20. The Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change will determine the proposed projects (clause 72.01).

Who approved Amendment VC190?

Minister D’Ambrosio has approved the amendment.  This is necessary to avoid any conflict of interest that arises with the Minister for Planning assessing applications made on behalf of the Minister for Housing, as the Minister for Planning and Minister for Housing are currently the same person.

Is the amendment a temporary measure, or permanent?

The provision will no longer apply once the Victoria’s Big Housing Build program is complete.

When were the changes delivered?

The changes are effective from 1 December 2020 the day the Notice of Approval appeared in the Government Gazette.

What is the role of Homes Victoria?

Homes Victoria was established to deliver the Government’s objectives to increase social and affordable housing. One of Homes Victoria’s roles is to fast-track new social and affordable housing and plan for sustainable, long term growth in housing.

Where a project is made on behalf of the Director of Housing, written confirmation from the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing or the Director of Housing is required to demonstrate that the application is funded, either wholly or partly, under Victoria's Big Housing.

Note: On 1 February 2021 the Department of Health and Human Services separated into new departments; the Department of Health and Department of Families, Fairness and Housing. The reference to Department of Health and Human Services in clause 53.20 applies to the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.

Operation of clause 52.20, Victoria’s Big Housing Build

Is a planning permit required?

No. Clause 52.20 removes the need for a planning permit or scheme amendment and replaces these processes with a streamlined development approval process where the Minister approves the project and plans.

What are the rules of entry to enable a development under clause 52.20?

Clause 52.20:

  • Requires a project to be funded under Victoria’s Big Housing Build (either partially or fully) and be carried out by or on behalf of the Director of Housing.
  • Requirements in the clause must be met to the satisfaction of the responsible authority.

Where a project is proposed on behalf of the Director of Housing, the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing or Homes Victoria must provide a letter confirming the project is on behalf of the Director of Housing.

More information on Victoria’s Big Housing Build.

What are the main components of the provision?

  • Exempts scheme requirements that would ordinarily apply however does not exempt certain scheme requirements such as bushfire management, environmental audits and environment effects statements.
  • Requires consideration of the planning provisions that would ordinarily apply such as heritage, design and environmental issues.
  • Exempts the requirement to notify surrounding properties and review of decisions, however consultation with the public and the municipal council is required.
  • Includes requirements and development standards (based on ResCode and Better Apartments) to support faster decision making, certainty and the amenity of adjoining neighbours.

Who makes a decision on a project under this provision?

The Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change will determine the proposed projects. Clause 72.01 of all planning schemes has been amended to facilitate this.

The Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change will make a decision on a project to avoid any conflict of interest that arises with the Minister for Planning assessing applications made on behalf of the Minister for Housing, as the Minister for Planning and Minister for Housing are currently the same person.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will receive and administer proposals.

Proposals must be submitted to permits online.

What types of housing can be developed under clause 52.20?

The provision establishes a special planning process for the development of housing projects. This can include single dwellings, two or more dwellings on a lot such as dual occupancies, villa units or townhouses and apartment developments.

The purpose of the provision is to develop housing projects under Victoria’s Big Housing Build however, large scale developments could include associated land uses such as residential buildings, offices, shops, childcare, social and medical services.

The type or mix of dwellings (i.e social or affordable) is not a consideration of the planning permit process.

Does the provision make requirements for the use of land?

No. Clause 52.20-5 requires a proponent to submit a report that addresses the proposed use and how it responds to purposes, objectives, or statements of significance or risk of any zone, overlay, or other provision that would apply were it not for the exemptions in clause 52.20-2. This includes a land use that would ordinarily be prohibited.

Where does the provision apply?

The provision applies to all land in a planning scheme except for land in an industrial zone, rural zone and Port Zone. Clause 52.20 specifies a number of other circumstances where the provision does not apply.

Do planning scheme zone, overlay, schedule or other requirements apply?

No. Clause 52.20-2 exempts any requirement of this planning scheme to obtain a permit or any provision that prohibits the use or development of land. Clause 52.20-1 and 52.20-2 specify some matters that the provision or exemptions do not apply to.

What matters are not exempted under this provision?

The provision exemptions do not apply to:

  • The subdivision of land.
  • Land in an industrial zone, rural zone and Port Zone.
  • A use or development to which the following clauses (including a schedule to a clause) apply:
    • Clause 51.01, Specific Sites and Exclusions
    • Clause 45.12, Specific Controls Overlay
  • A use or development that would not require a permit were it not for this exemption (clause 52.20-2)
  • A requirement in the following clauses (including a schedule to a clause):
    • Clause 44.06, Bushfire Management Overlay
    • Clause 45.03, Environmental Audit Overlay
    • Clause 45.07, City Link Project Overlay
    • Clause 45.08, Melbourne Airport Environs Overlay
    • Clause 51.03, Upper Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges Regional Strategy Plan
    • Clause 52.02, Easements Restrictions and Reserves.
  • A use or development that is inconsistent with an applicable Statement of Planning Policy.
  • A development for which an environment effects statement has been, or is required to be, prepared under the Environment Effects Act 1978.

This will mean that if a development site is affected by an overlay such as an Environmental Audit Overlay the requirements of that overlay apply and must be met in accordance with the planning scheme.

Do ResCode and the Better Apartment Standards (clauses 54, 55 and 58) apply?

No. Clause 52.20 requires assessment against development standards at clause 52.20-6 for all development and 52.20-7 for apartments. The residential development standards are based on the existing ResCode and Better Apartment Standards with modifications to suit social and affordable housing and a streamlined assessment process.

The development standards are designed to allow for flexible decision making. The standards are not mandatory. A standard should be met but can be varied at the discretion of the responsible authority.

Do planning scheme building height requirements apply?

No. However clause 52.20-5 requires a proponent to submit a report that addresses the proposed use or development and how it responds to purposes, objectives, or statements of significance or risk of any zone, overlay, or other provision that would apply to the use or development were it not for the exemption in clause 52.20-1. This includes consideration of height requirements or prohibitions.

Do VicSmart provisions apply?

No. VicSmart requirements at clause 71.06 do not apply.

Do the carparking requirements in ResCode or clause 52.06 apply?

No. The development standards of clause 52.20-6.7 apply. They set requirements for the provision of car spaces, dimensions and access similar to the car parking particular provision.

Can a single dwelling or dwelling additions be developed using this provision?

Yes. However, it is likely this provision will be used to develop larger scale development including multiple dwellings and housing precincts.

Is a project under clause 52.20 exempt from notice and review?

Yes. Clause 52.20 is not a permit process. This means that owners and occupiers such as neighbours will not be given notice of a permit application or be able have and third party review of a decision to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)..

Do the referral requirements in a planning scheme apply?

The requirements to refer permit applications set out in clause 66.01 do not apply. Clause 52.20-5 requires the comments of referral authorities if the use or development would require a permit were it not for the permit exemption of clause 52.20-2.

What notice and consultation will occur for a proposal under clause 52.20?

Consultation with the public and the relevant municipal council and the consideration of their responses is a requirement of clause 52.20-4.

Homes Victoria are committed to early and ongoing engagement of proposals. More information on the Big Housing Build can be found at:  https://www.vic.gov.au/homes-victoria-big-housing-build

How will the amenity of neighbours be considered?

Clause 52.20 includes development standards (based on ResCode and Better Apartments) to protect the amenity of adjoining neighbours. This includes standards for:

  • Front setbacks (reduced)
  • Side and rear setbacks
  • Walls on boundaries
  • Overshadowing open space
  • Overlooking.

Some requirements such as setbacks to adjoining dwellings are greater than existing standards for apartment buildings.

Are there referral requirements?

The referral requirements of section 55 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 do not apply however clause 52.20-5 requires the comments of a referral authority on the proposed use or development to be submitted.

How will the design of buildings fit into the character of the neighbourhood?

Clause 52.20-5 requires a proponent to submit a report that addresses the proposed use or development and how it responds to purposes, objectives, or statements of significance or risk of any zone, overlay, or other provision that would apply to the use or development were it not for the exemption in clause 52.20-1. This includes consideration of design and the character of the neighbourhood.

Clause 52.20-5 requires the submission of a design review report prepared by a suitably qualified architect or urban designer that demonstrates how the project achieves good quality design outcomes.

Will the buildings be energy efficient?

Yes. Clause 52.20-7.1 requires apartment developments to be energy efficient. In addition, Homes Victoria has committed to new dwellings meeting a 7 Star NaTHERS energy rating which is greater than standard requirements.

Are there transitional provisions for clause 52.20?

No. The provision applies from 1 December 2020. A permit applicant could withdraw a current application and lodge the proposal under clause 52.20.

How will the council be aware of a proposal?    

As part of the pre-application process Homes Victoria will contact and liaise with councils before lodgement of a project.

DELWP will refer the project application to council once it is lodged for comments and draft conditions. If comments are not received within 14 calendar days from the date of referral, DELWP may make a decision without council input.

Why is the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change the responsible authority instead of the Minister for Planning?

The Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change is the responsible authority for a development under clause 52.20 to ensure that there is no perceived or actual conflict of interest between the Minister for Planning’s discharge of powers because he is also the Minister for Housing.

Can covenants and other restrictions be removed or amended using this provision?

No. The exemptions in the provision do not apply to requirements in clause 52.02, Easements, Restrictions (including restrictive covenants) and reserves.

Is a cultural heritage management plan required for a proposal?

A mandatory cultural heritage management plan may be required for specified activities on land pursuant to section 46(1) of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.

I have a current permit application that meets the requirements and can be assessed using the new clauses. What can I do?

This provision is not a permit process. Existing permit applications could be withdrawn. It is recommended that any objectors to the application be notified of the new process and the status of the application and their objection.

Can a proposal be lodged with the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change before funding is approved?

No. Clause 52.20-1 states that this clause applies to the use or development of land that is funded wholly or partly, under Victoria’s Big Housing Build program; and carried out by or on behalf of the Director of Housing. Before lodging a proposal, proponents must contact Homes Victoria to ensure the proposal can meet this provision.

What if there is an existing application or permit for the land?

This provision is not a permit process. Current permit applications can be continued or withdrawn. An existing permit can be acted on. If an application is withdrawn and replaced by a new proposal under clause 52.20, it is recommended that any objectors/submitters to an current application be notified of the new proposal and the status of the current application.

Do Public Open Space contributions apply?

No. The provision does not apply to the subdivision of land. A permit is usually required to subdivide land and clause 53.01, Public Open Space Contribution and Subdivision could then apply.

Page last updated: 09/07/21