On the 31st July 2018, Amendment VC148 was gazetted into the Planning Scheme under the series of Smart Planning Reforms implemented into the Scheme in recent times.

One of the wonderful aspects of this amendment is that it has recognised that the complexity of the Planning Scheme is cumbersome and makes it difficult to use, so the key to this amendment is to provide a simplified, user friendly format. There are also many changes that remove redundant details and controls. It is clearly a step in the right direction and we can see that the industry will have less time dealing with trivial applications that clog up the planning system and leave planners wondering if this is what they signed up for!

Some of the more important changes to the Planning Scheme that we have identified are as follows.

  • Heritage Overlays are now required to have Statements of Significance attached to each Schedule to provide greater transparency as to the reasons for the overlay. Councils have been given three months to add these statements.
  • There are a range of changes under the heading of supporting business by removing unnecessary regulation. This is a promising title and some clear benefits are provided including the removal of outdated provisions related to uses including Car Wash, Service Station and Motor Vehicle, Boat and Caravan Sales. In addition, several uses have been identified as having low impacts and will no longer require planning approval – including Convenience Shop and Take Away Food Premises in the Industrial 1 Zone and Service Industry and Take Away Food Premises in the Industrial 3 Zone.
  • It has been recognised that there has been a great deal of time and expense on gaining approvals for certain parking dispensations. The Principal Public Transport Network (PPTN) Maps have been introduced into the planning scheme and reduces the rate of car parking required in locations within 400 metres of a railway station, tram route or high quality bus route. One of the benefits of this change is the deletion of the visitor car parking requirement for 5 or more dwellings within this area and recognising visitors can utilise on street car parking.
  • Clause 52.06 (Car Parking) has been amended to exempt a dispensation being required for up to 10 car parking spaces, when a new use is proposed in an existing building in a Commercial 1 or 2 Zone or the Activity Centre Zone, there is no net increase in floor area and no financial contributions are required for a dispensation under a car parking overlay.
  • Clause 52.29 (Land Adjacent to a Road Zone 1, Category 1 or a Public Acquisition Overlay for a Category 1 Road) now provides clarity on permit exemptions (although it is noted that the description of altered access has not been redefined, despite several VCAT decisions covering this area).
  • Clause 52.05 (Signage) has been amended and further expands the number of advertising signs that do not require a Planning Permit. The changes also introduce a Schedule to this Clause to exempt more applications from public notice requirements.
  • Following on an expansion of VicSmart provisions earlier in the Smart Planning reforms, these provisions have now been embedded in the relevant Zones / Overlays rather than located in a separate part to the Scheme. This will make the provisions clearer and easier to identify.

We are hopeful that these changes are just the tip of the iceberg and are a sign of further changes that will improve and streamline the planning system.

The details of the changes can be read at planningschemes.dpcd.vic.gov.au.

Please call if you wish to discuss how these changes may affect your proposal.

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