What is Smart Planning?

Smart Planning is a two-year reform program to make Victoria’s planning system more efficient, accessible, open and collaborative. We will achieve this through simpler rules and policy, and modern digital planning resources.

Subject to funding, a proposed additional stage of the program – known as 'Transform' – would focus on long-term solutions to meet the challenges of the next 30 years.

When was Smart Planning introduced?

The Smart Planning program commenced on 1 July 2016.

What is the program timeline?

Smart Planning is a two-year program from July 2016 to June 2018, comprising two stages – ‘Improve’ and ‘Reform’ – with scope for a third stage – ‘Transform’.

Improve was completed in early 2017. It focused on immediate regulatory improvements and beginning the task of building better engagement mechanisms and supporting infrastructure.

Reform – the current stage – commenced in early 2017 and will be completed by July 2018. Reform builds on the Improve stage, further simplifying planning regulation and delivering online planning solutions that improve accessibility and transparency, and make it easier to interact with the planning system.

Subject to funding, Transform would further reshape the planning system with a focus on long-term solutions to meet the challenges of the next 30 years.

How much will be spent on the Smart Planning program? 

The 2016-17 Victorian Budget allocated $25.5 million for delivery of the Improve and Reform phases of the Smart Planning program.

Why do we need Smart Planning? 

Smart Planning is the first funded review and reform of Victoria’s planning system in more than 20 years.

Over that time, planning provisions and schemes grew significantly, to include a massive 75,000 pages across 8500 documents, with an additional 15,000 static PDF maps.

Planning regulation has become more complex, inaccessible and inefficient. It contains duplication, inconsistencies and redundancies.

Many planning-related tasks – for planners as well as non-planners – are unnecessarily difficult and time-consuming, using outdated methods not supported by modern technology.

Consequences of these growing issues have included:

  • lengthy approval times
  • inconsistencies in planning schemes and decision making
  • a system that is difficult to interpret and understand
  • barriers to public participation
  • higher compliance costs than necessary
  • less effective policy implementation.

What will Smart Planning deliver?

The Smart Planning program is implementing system-wide reform, through simplified planning rules and the development of new digital tools.

Planning regulation and information will be easier to access, understand and interpret. Tasks will be simpler and faster to complete for all users. This will remove barriers to public participation, reduce processing and application costs, improve transparency and certainty

The planning system will be able to more quickly and effectively respond to evolving needs in land use and development.

Planning policy across the state will be more consistent. Planners, applicants and the wider community will enjoy greater certainty and transparency in planning outcomes.

A more collaborative system will lead to improved outcomes that better meet the needs of Victorians.

What are some specific initiatives of the program? 

  • Rules and policy reform: Expanding the VicSmart fast-track permit application process; reforming the Victoria Planning Provisions (VPP); and restructuring the State Planning Policy Framework to remove repetition, inconsistencies and redundancies, and better align state and local policy.
  • Victorian Planning Portal: An online planning portal at planning.vic.gov.au to act as a single point of entry for Victorian planning information and services, with modern services and functionality.
  • Permits online: An online lodgement system for ministerial permit applications, which will later be extended to other types of permits.
  • Planning scheme information management system (PSIMS): An online, centralised system to store and more efficiently manage local planning schemes.
  • VicPlan: A state-wide is a state-wide map viewer allowing users to quickly and easily find planning scheme information for a property or parcel, replacing static PDF maps.

Download fact sheets for each of these projects on the Smart Planning web page.

When will we start to see initiatives implemented?

    Most of the Smart Planning initiatives are being fully implemented over the two-year timeframe of the program. However, we have seen some early achievements.

  • The first phase of a new planning website at planning.vic.gov.au was launched in December 2016.
  • Expansions to the  VicSmart fast-track permit application process were introduced in mid-2017.
  • The State Planning Policy Framework was revised in early 2017 to incorporate Plan Melbourne 2017, and remove a total of 3000 pages of unrelated policy from planning schemes across the state.
  • The VicPlan – Zones and Overlays map viewer was launched in July 2017.

What are the projected economic benefits?

The program will create jobs and generate cost savings to industry by making the planning system more efficient, accessible and easier to use and understand. It will make Victoria more attractive for investment.

The Premier’s Jobs and Investment Panel has identified the planning system as a key reform area to facilitate growth, jobs and investment in Victoria.

Approximately $24 billion of proposed economic investment in Victoria passed through the planning system in 2014-15 across more than 57,000 planning permit applications.

A simpler, more efficient planning system will reduce holding costs for applicants, and lower costs related to meeting technical requirements and seeking specialist advice. Instant and online lodgement will reduce application costs.

Planning authorities will become more time and resource efficient in processing applications and amendments.

An efficient and responsive planning system will facilitate more productive development and use of land.

Who are the relevant stakeholders?

  • Local government staff and councillors
  • Industry professionals in the planning, design, development and building sectors
  • State government planners
  • Homeowners and business owners
  • Community and interest groups
  • Anyone who engages with the Victorian planning system, or will in the future.

How are they being consulted on the reforms?

The program will be developed with ongoing input from key stakeholders using a variety of engagement methods.

An inclusive, participatory approach will leverage both contemporary online engagement tools and face-to-face discussions, maximising opportunities for key stakeholders to be involved.

Advisory groups, reference groups and pilot groups made up of key stakeholders are informing the progress and outputs of the various projects.

Subscribe to the Smart Planning newsletter for details of upcoming consultation opportunities.

Will planning applications be assessed more quickly?

Smart Planning will make the planning process more efficient. Additionally, a greater volume of applications will be able to be processed in 10 days through the fast-track VicSmart channel.

Clearer and more concise rules will also cut preparation times for applications and provide greater certainty.

Will the Smart Planning changes affect my current planning application?

No.

Any changes to planning rules (i.e. zones, overlays or provisions) will be communicated on the planning website and in the Smart Planning newsletter at the time of approval, and only affect future applications.

Will my council's planning policies and its processes also be reformed?

Smart Planning is limited to addressing processes at a state level.

Councils work within the framework of state planning processes when developing their own, and will benefit from the Smart Planning improvements. Smart Planning will make the system easier to use at a local level and provide better tools to carry out planning tasks. We will be working with councils to make sure that program solutions work across the board.

However, Smart Planning is not intended to initiate reform of any local planning policies.

Who can I contact for more information?

Email the Smart Planning program at smart.planning@delwp.vic.gov.au for more information.