Residential development in Victoria is controlled by residential development provisions and tools. While commonly known as ResCode the provisions aren’t a separate document; they’re included in all Victorian planning schemes and the Victorian Building Regulations.

The provisions are applied through the planning permit or building permit systems, and apply to:

  • the construction of new dwellings
  • alterations and extensions to existing dwellings and
  • residential subdivisions.

Use the tabs below to find out more about:

  • Residential development provisions: requirements apply to dwellings or subdividing land
  • Neighbourhood character: the starting point for assessing all residential development applications
  • Sustainability: environmental and sustainability performance requirements

The residential development provisions are part of every planning scheme in Victoria and need to be considered in the context of other parts of the planning scheme. Planning scheme content may vary from municipality to municipality. View all Victorian planning schemes.

If you’re developing a dwelling consider the following (as set out in the planning scheme):

  • the relevant state, regional and local strategic policies contained in the State Planning Policy Framework (SPPF) and Local Planning Policy Framework (LPPF)
  • the purpose and requirements of the zone and schedule to the zone
  • the purpose and requirements of any overlay and schedule
  • the relevant provisions of Clause 54 or Clause 55  including the neighbourhood and site description and design response
  • the relevant general provisions
  • any comments of referral authorities and others (if applicable).

Clause 54 (one dwelling on a lot), Clause 55 (two or more dwellings on a lot and residential buildings) and Clause 56 (residential subdivision) of planning schemes include:

  • objectives that must be met
  • standards that should be met
  • decision guidelines.

More information about these clauses are available by scrolling to the appropriate tab.

An objective describes the desired outcome in the completed development.

  • All applications must meet all the objectives of Clause 54 or Clause 55. The objectives aim to achieve residential development that:
    • respects neighbourhood character
    • protects amenity
    • is more sustainable
  • You can’t "trade off" between objectives
  • Council must consider the associated standard and decision guidelines when they decide if the development meets each objective.

A standard contains the requirements to meet the objective. Standards should normally be met. However, if the council is satisfied that an application for an alternative design solution meets the objective, the alternative may be considered.

  • Each objective contains a standard
  • Council can vary some of the standards in Clause 54 and Clause 55 by using a schedule to a residential zone or a schedule to a Neighbourhood Character Overlay.

Decision guidelines set out the matters the council must consider before deciding if an application meets the objectives.

  • Most objectives of Clause 54 and Clause 55 have decision guidelines. The decision guidelines will help council decide whether:
    • the objective will be met if the standard is met
    • the objective will be met if an alternative design solution is used.
  • All of the decision guidelines must be considered:
  • Council can add local decision guidelines using a schedule to a residential zone.
  • council doesn’t need to document its consideration of each individual decision guideline
  • A general statement that council has considered all of the objectives and decision guidelines in the report on the application will usually be sufficient after a merits assessment

A series of Residential development practice notes are available to help you understand the residential development provisions:

  • PPN15: Assessing an application for one or more dwellings in a residential zone
  • PPN16: Making a planning application for one or more dwellings in a residential zone
  • PPN27: Understanding the residential development standards (ResCode)
  • PPN43: Understanding neighbourhood character
  • PPNs 38 to 41: Clause 56 subdivision

Developments need to respect neighbourhood character. The impact of every property, public place or piece of infrastructure when combined together determines the neighbourhood character.

If your application will be assessed under Clause 54 or 55 of the planning scheme you must submit a neighbourhood and site description with the application.

It must describe specified aspects of the site and its neighbourhood. Detailed information is set out in the following practice notes:

You need to prepare the description to the council's satisfaction because it provides the basis for:

  • you to develop a design that meets the objectives of the planning scheme
  • council's assessment of the design.

Next steps:

  • Description meets council’s requirements and is satisfactory
  • council will inform you in writing and
  • continue to process your application.
  • Description doesn’t meet council requirements:
  • council can request more information from you under section 54 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987
  • the request should set out clearly why the description isn’t satisfactory and what additional information is required.

The design response must accompany your application. Many of the objectives in Clauses 54 and 55 include decision guidelines that require council to consider the design response when assessing whether an objective or associated standard has been met.

Use the design response to explain how the design:

  • derives from and responds to the neighbourhood and site description
  • meets the objectives of the relevant sub clause within Clause 54 or 55
  • responds to the neighbourhood character features of the area identified in a local planning policy or a Neighbourhood Character Overlay.

A mandatory neighbourhood character objective and standard is the starting point for making and assessing all planning permit applications for residential development. The aim is to respect existing or preferred neighbourhood character.

Other objectives and standards in Clauses 54 and 55 require developments to respond to key elements of surrounding development that contribute to the character of the neighbourhood. These include:

  • street setback
  • building height
  • side and rear setbacks
  • site coverage
  • private open space
  • front fence height.

Schedules apply to the Residential Growth, General Residential, Neighbourhood Residential, Mixed Use and Township zones. The schedules can:

  • specify that a planning permit is required to construct or extend one dwelling on a lot of less than 500 sqm (this does not apply to the Residential Growth Zone). If no requirement is specified in the schedule, then a lot size of 300 sqm applies (a schedule to the Neighbourhood Residential Zone can specify a customised lot size trigger)
  • change the requirements of specified siting and design standards in Clauses 54 and 55 of planning schemes. These changes also affect the corresponding standards in the Victorian Building Regulations.
  • specify a mandatory maximum building height applying to a dwelling or residential building (or in the Mixed Use Zone applying to any building)
  • in the Mixed Use Zone specify objectives to be achieved for the area
  • include additional application requirements
  • include additional local decision guidelines
  • in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone specify a minimum subdivision area and a maximum number of dwellings on a lot.

The standards that a council can change using the schedule are:

  • minimum street setback
  • site coverage
  • permeability
  • landscaping
  • side and rear setbacks
  • walls on boundaries
  • private open space
  • front fence height.

Changes to a schedule to apply the 500 sqm lot size trigger or change the requirements of a standard are implemented through an amendment to the local planning scheme.

The Neighbourhood Character Overlay (NCO) is a tool used in areas where the residential development standards consistently fail to meet the objectives for neighbourhood character. An NCO should not be used as a 'blanket' control across the municipality.

Criteria showing when an NCO can be used can be found in practice note PN28: Using the neighbourhood character provisions in planning schemes (PDF, 1.4 MB) or (DOC, 118.5 KB).

Under the NCO a planning permit is required if you want to:

  • construct a building or carry out works. This includes all single dwellings, including alterations and additions
  • demolish or remove a building if specified in a schedule to an NCO
  • remove, destroy or lop trees if specified in a schedule to an NCO.

A schedule to the Neighbourhood Character Overlay may modify most standards in Clause 54 and Clause 55, including any requirements specified in a schedule to a Residential Growth, General Residential, Neighbourhood Residential, Mixed Use or Township Zone.

A planning scheme amendment is required to introduce an NCO.

More information about the assessment of a planning application for a dwelling in a residential zone is provided in practice note PN15: Assessing an application for a dwelling in a residential zone (PDF, 216.3 KB) or (DOC, 84.0 KB).

Clause 54 of all planning schemes applies to all single dwellings (including alterations and extensions) where the land is within one of five residential zones:

  • Residential Growth Zone
  • General Residential Zone
  • Neighbourhood Residential Zone
  • Mixed Use Zone
  • Township Zone.

Most new single dwellings and alterations / extensions to existing single dwellings don’t need a planning permit. A planning permit is required if one of the following apply:

  • the lot size is less than 300sqm or 500sqm if specified in a schedule to a residential zone; or
  • a Neighbourhood Character Overlay applies to the lot.

Clause 54 includes:

  • Purpose, application, operation and requirements
  • 54.01 Neighbourhood and site description and design response
  • 54.02 Neighbourhood character
  • 54.03 Site layout and building massing
  • 54.04 Amenity impacts
  • 54.05 On-site amenity and facilities
  • 54.06 Detailed design

Single dwellings that require a planning permit under another provision in the planning scheme aren’t subject to the Clause 54 provisions (unless specified by a provision of the relevant planning scheme). They will be assessed against the residential development provisions through the building permit process.

More information

For advice on the planning scheme provisions that apply to a single dwelling on a lot or to check if a proposal for a single dwelling requires a planning permit you can read the relevant planning scheme, contact the planning department at the relevant council or a town planning consultant. 

Building permits and single dwellings

The development of a dwelling will require a building permit.

Clause 55 of all planning schemes applies to the development of two or more dwellings on a lot and residential buildings and a planning permit is always required (see Clause 74 Land Use Terms in planning schemes).

When land is within one of five residential zones – Residential Growth Zone, General Residential Zone, Neighbourhood Residential Zone, Mixed Use Zone or Township Zone, Clause 55 applies to:

  • construction of a second dwelling if there is at least one dwelling existing on the lot;
  • construction of two or more dwellings on a lot;
  • extension of a dwelling if there are two or more dwellings on the lot;
  • construction or extension of a dwelling on common property, or;
  • construction or extension of a residential building.

Clause 55 includes:

  • Purpose, application, operation and requirements
  • 55.01 Neighbourhood and site description and design response
  • 55.02 Neighbourhood character and infrastructure
  • 55.03 Site layout and building massing
  • 55.04 Amenity impacts
  • 55.05 On-site amenity and facilities
  • 55.06 Detailed design.

More information

For advice on the planning scheme provisions that apply to two or more dwellings on a lot and residential buildings you can read the relevant planning scheme, contact the planning department at the relevant council or a town planning consultant.

A planning permit is required to subdivide land and an application for a residential subdivision will be assessed under the relevant provisions of Clause 56 of all planning schemes.

The Clause 56 requirements are supported by complementary State Planning Policy planning scheme provisions for subdivision, relevant zones and overlays and planning practice notes.

Clause 56 – Residential subdivision provisions

Clause 56 applies to land in the Residential Growth Zone, General Residential Zone, Neighbourhood Residential Zone, Mixed Use Zone, Township Zone, Comprehensive Development Zone and Priority Development Zone.

The zone provisions set out the requirements to be met for four classes of subdivision based on the number of lots (2 lots, 3-15 lots, 16-59 lots, 60 or more lots).

Under the Incorporated Plan Overlay and the Development Plan Overlay, incorporated plans and development plans for residential subdivision in the above zones must meet the requirements of Clause 56.

Clause 56 includes:

  • Purpose, application, operational requirements and certification of standards
  • 56.01 Subdivision site and context description and design response
  • 56.02 Policy implementation
  • 56.03 Liveable and sustainable communities
  • 56.04 Lot design
  • 56.05 Urban landscape
  • 56.06 Access and mobility management
  • 56.07 Integrated water management
  • 56.08 Site management
  • 56.09 Utilities
  • 56.10 Transitional arrangements.

Planning practice notes

Planning practice notes provide more information about the requirements and processes of Clause 56. They draw attention to sources of design assistance, including technical publications, computer software and sources of general information such as government agency websites. The Clause 56 practice notes are:

  • PPN38: Using the access and mobility management provisions of Clause 56 - Residential subdivision: technical information and advice about the access and mobility provisions of Clause 56 (PDF, 602.2 KB) or (DOC, 126.0 KB)
  • PPN39: Using the integrated water management provisions of Clause 56 - Residential subdivision: technical information about the integrated water management provisions (PDF, 616.4 KB) or (DOC, 807.5 KB)
  • PPN40: Using the residential subdivision provisions Clause 56 - Residential subdivision: how Clause 56 operates and the objectives of each class of subdivision (PDF, 79.4 KB) or (DOC, 144.0 KB)
  • PPN41: Using the site management provisions of Clause 56 - Residential subdivision: explains requirements to minimise risks of pollution, protect drainage infrastructure and reduce waste by encouraging use of recycled materials (PDF, 108.9 KB) or (DOC, 70.0 KB)

All new residential subdivisions and dwellings are required to meet environmental and sustainability performance measures.

The residential subdivision provisions implement State Government Policy to achieve more liveable and sustainable communities.

Environmental performance requirements for all new housing apply under the building system. Building practitioner resources can be found on the Victorian Building Authority website.

More information is available on the Sustainability Victoria website.