More efficient planning rules and policy

Smart Planning is reforming Victoria’s planning rules and policy. We're making the planning system more efficient, accessible and transparent.

Planning regulation has grown significantly over the past 20 years. Long and complex planning regulation impedes efficient and consistent planning outcomes.

Smart Planning rules reform will:

  • address inconsistent and contradictory controls
  • make planning regulation easier to understand interpret
  • lead to more effective and consistent decision making
  • reduce compliance and processing costs
  • reduce waiting times for planning permit applications.

Victoria Planning Provisions reform

Reforming the Victoria Planning Provisions (VPP) is at the heart of our rules and policy work between now and June 2018.

In June, we sought initial feedback to help prioritise potential reforms.

Cumulative amendments to the VPP and local planning schemes over the past 20 years have led to increasingly long and complex planning regulation.

Policies and provisions contain inconsistencies, duplication and redundancies. This impedes efficient and consistent planning outcomes. It is also often difficult for non-planners to understand and effectively participate in the planning process.

Simplifying and improving the structure of the VPP will:

  • ensure planning regulation is consistent across the state, and that state and local policy work together more effectively
  • make planning regulation easier to understand and interpret
  • remove barriers to participation in the planning system
  • provide greater certainty for all stakeholders
  • lead to more effective, timely and consistent decision making
  • reduce waiting times, and costs of compliance and processing.

We are are mindful of other reviews that have been conducted in recent years. As part of analysis to date, we have revisited recommendations from previous reviews, to identify potential options for short- and medium-term reforms.

Emerging areas of focus so far include:

  • reviewing and rationalising planning permit triggers
  • reviewing and increasing permit exemptions
  • rationalising the State Planning Policy Framework (SPPF), Local Planning Policy Framework (LPPF), zones, overlays, particular provisions and general provisions
  • removing superfluous provisions including duplicated and outdated clauses
  • investigating a framework for new assessment pathways and increasing use of easier processes for lower-risk applications
  • clarifying common points of contention or confusion.

An initial round of rules and policy reform changes will be implemented through a VC Amendment later this year, with more substantial changes anticipated in the middle of next year.

We are working with local government, state government and industry through technical reference groups and an advisory group. As well as the initial survey, further public consultation will take place later this year.

State Planning Policy Framework updates

The State Planning Policy Framework (SPPF) is Victoria’s overarching planning regulatory framework.

Smart Planning is simplifying the SPPF to better integrate state, regional and local planning policy. This includes:

  • identifying and remove repetition, inconsistencies and redundancies
  • ensuring terminology is consistent and easy to understand
  • undertaking relevant policy-neutral corrections or updates.

The first stage of work incorporated Plan Melbourne 2017 - 2050 into the SPPF. By late 2017, the integrated planning policy framework will allow local planning schemes to be able to be tailored to local needs.

This work will allow local and state policy to be used together more easily, and provide greater certainty for all users of the system.

VicSmart expansion

VicSmart is a 10-day fast-track planning assessment process for straightforward, low impact development proposals. It was introduced in 2014.

To ensure fast turnaround, eligible applications are subject to set information requirements, assessment processes and decision guidelines.

In early 2017, the Minister for Planning announced the expansion of VicSmart as part of Smart Planning improvement work. New permit classes have been added and some existing classes extended. New VicSmart permit classes that apply to residential zones will be introduced in July.

This means more permit applications by home renovators, small businesses and people in rural areas eligible for the fast-tracked assessment. 

The changes are expected to double the number of VicSmart permit applications per year from 4000 to 8000.