Legal Insights

Strengthening sustainability for Victoria’s planning schemes

By Kristin Richardson, Maria Marshall

• 15 July 2022 • 2 min read
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Changes announced earlier this year for all Planning Schemes across Victoria are a positive step towards supporting environmentally sustainable development and climate change policy outcomes for the State.

The introduction of Amendment VC216 on 10 June will see more support for Environmentally Sustainable Development (ESD) and climate change policies embedded into the State’s Planning Policy Framework (PPF).

In general terms, the Amendment:

  • updates clause 01 ‘to support responses to climate change’ as a purpose of the planning scheme;
  • amends provisions of the PPF to include consideration of ESD and climate change within relevant planning policy themes; and
  • removes ESD specific clauses (clauses 15.02 and 15.02-1S) from all planning schemes and relocates its content to other relevant clauses. Where planning schemes have been translated into the new PPF format, local ESD policies (where applicable) have been relocated to clause 15.01-2L.

The Amendment seeks to implement:

  • Action 80 of Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 - ‘Review of planning and building systems to support environmentally sustainable development outcomes’; and
  • aspects of Actions 89, 91, 94, 96, 97 and 101 relating to water management, cooling and greening, air and noise pollution and recycling and resource recovery.

The changes to the PPF are part of the Victorian Government’s Stage One of the Environmentally sustainable development of buildings and subdivisions - A roadmap for Victoria’s planning system (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, 2020) (Roadmap).

The first stage of the Roadmap sought to embed ESD throughout each relevant policy theme in the Planning Policy Framework in order to “further mainstream sustainability as part of the decision making across the entire PPF”, rather than leaving it as a standalone consideration in clause 15.02-1S (see page 14 of the Roadmap).

According to the Roadmap, Stage Two will introduce new and expanded particular provisions into all planning schemes, and include specific planning objectives and standards which seek to achieve ESD policy goals. The Roadmap also indicates there will be a further review of local ESD policy as part of the Stage Two reforms (see page 15 of the Roadmap).

These changes introduced as part of the Amendment are a positive step towards supporting ESD and climate change policy outcomes. Planning and responsible authorities should be aware of the changes to State policy introduced under this Amendment when preparing planning scheme amendments and assessing permit applications.

If you wish to discuss any element of the Amendment, including how it might impact on any current or future planning scheme amendments or local policy translation process, please contact our Planning and Environment team.

The Amendment documentation can be accessed here.

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