What is Smart Planning?

The Victorian Government’s Smart Planning program will make the state’s planning system more efficient, accessible, open and collaborative through simpler rules and modern digital tools.

In doing so, we will make Victoria the most efficient and transparent state in the country for planning, and drive investment.

Smart Planning will:

  • simplify and modernise Victoria’s planning rules
  • make planning information easier to find and understand
  • introduce user-focused digital tools to improve accessibility and interactivity of information and services
  • establish more effective and accessible engagement with community, businesses, local government and industry.

When was Smart Planning introduced?

The Smart Planning program commenced on 1 July 2016.

What is the program timeline?

The initial phases of the program will be delivered over two years. Between now and July 2018 we will improve and reform the planning system.

The program includes scoping for additional, transformational work (subject to future funding), that could further reshape the planning system to meet future demands and challenges, and would be delivered from mid-2018.

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.

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.

Why do we need Smart Planning? 

The last major review of the Victorian planning system was the 1993 Perrot Review. Since then, planning provisions and schemes have significantly expanded to include a massive 75,000 pages across 8500 documents, with an additional 15,000 static PDF maps.

The system has become more complex, with duplication, inconsistencies and redundancies. It is difficult to use and understand, and less effective at implementing policy.

This complexity hinders the ability of ordinary citizens and business professionals to understand, and effectively participate in, the planning process. People can receive confusing and inconsistent advice and experience lengthy approval times and higher compliance costs than necessary.

The planning system is a key tool of government policy, managing the use of land through a fair, orderly, responsive and transparent process. It does this via a strategic policy framework that balances often conflicting economic, commercial, social, environmental and heritage considerations.

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.

Business as usual practices and processes are insufficient to meet current needs, let alone support and accommodate the changes anticipated in coming years.

What will Smart Planning deliver?

Smart Planning will unlock investment and create jobs through an integrated and comprehensive package of reforms to modernise Victoria's planning system. 

To achieve this, the program will:

  • reduce the size and complexity of planning regulation, with simpler planning rules that are more accessible for businesses and the community, creating a more efficient system
  • produce a user-focused, easy-to-use online portal for planning applications, information, services and engagement
  • improve stakeholder involvement to ensure that the system is responsive to community needs and expectations.

What are some specific initiatives of the program? 

  • Streamlined State Planning Policy Framework (SPPF): Integrating state and local policy within the SPPF to reduce duplication and complexity.
  • Smarter rules: Expanding the eligible permit classes for the existing VicSmart fast-track process, and improving the way zones, overlays and particular provisions work together.
  • 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.
  • Permits online: Developing an online lodgement system for ministerial permit applications, which will later be extended to other types of permits.
  • Planning scheme information management system (PSIMS): Implementing a new PSIMS to more efficiently manage local planning schemes.
  • Interactive planning scheme maps: Developing interactive maps to replace static PDF maps.

When will we start to see initiatives implemented?

  • Expansions to the  VicSmart fast-track permit application process were announced in early 2017, following consultation with local government and industry.
  • The first phase of a new planning website at planning.vic.gov.au was launched in December 2016.
  • A pilot of online lodgement and tracking of applications for ministerial permits is underway.

Who are the relevant stakeholders?

  • Local government staff and councillors
  • Industry
  • 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.

Will planning applications be approved more quickly?

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

Clearer and more concise rules will 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 at the time of approval and only affect future applications.

Will Victorian planning policies also be reformed?

Yes. Planning policy across the state will become less complex and more consistent through a streamlined State Planning Policy Framework (SPPF) that will help integrate state and local policy.

The SPPF is the state’s overarching planning regulatory framework, and is included in all local planning schemes across Victoria.

The first stage of this process involves incorporating the Plan Melbourne refresh into the SPPF.

In late-2017, the SPPF will be restructured and fully streamlined, as part of the implementation of an online planning scheme information management system (PSIMS).

The program will not reform local policy content, other SPPF referred policies, environmental plans or management plans.

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.