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Planning system

We support and strengthen local government to fulfill its planning functions and improve the planning system.

Local government has three key roles under the Planning and Environment Act 1987. Councils:

  • set a strategic policy framework for the municipality through its planning scheme
  • administer and enforce the planning scheme
  • make decisions on individual planning permit applications.

Each council prepares a planning scheme for its municipal district. A planning scheme contains:

  • a state planning policy framework
  • a local planning policy framework
  • zone and overlay provisions that control the use and development of land.

As part of its local planning policy framework a council prepares a municipal strategic statement and local planning policies. These reflect the community’s priorities and guide planning decisions.

We participate and respond to a wide range of legislative and planning scheme matters. For the most up-to-date activities in this area view our Land Use Planning Bulletins.

Review of planning law

Recently the Planning and Environment Amendment (General) Bill was introduced into the Victorian Parliament.

This Bill introduced a number of matters we called for in previous submissions. Although there was not the opportunity to make submissions to the Bill the ‘omnibus’ amendment contains a number of key elements we advocated for in previous submissions such as:

  • the removal of Development Assessment Committees
  • the deemed authorisation of planning scheme amendments if a decision is not made in 10 days.


We are assisting the Department of Planning and Community Development to implement VicSmart, a new planning permit process that will apply to straightforward, low-impact planning permit applications.

Before the process can commence the legislation must be passed through the Victorian parliament, regulations set (relating to the timeframe) and planning schemes amended. The commencement date will be in mid-2013. We aim by this time to have a business process identified to make implementation by councils as streamlined and easy as possible.

Reformed zones

We have welcomed the announcement of new planning zones to implement local policy and provide certainty.

Many of the proposed changes respond to strong advocacy by the local government sector over a long period of time.

More work needs to be done with councils to identify which matters can be implemented straight away, and which areas require more tailored work to be done.


The responses of external referral authorities are an input to over 30 per cent of planning permit applications. Councils are keen to work with referral authorities to consider how to better target referrals to circumstances that are critically important and to improve interactions and efficiencies. This was the purpose of a workshop held in Gippsland in August 2012.

Review of planning fees

The Planning and Environment (Fees) Regulations were extended on an interim basis until 22 April 2013 and continue to be in need of review.

Before the extension we participated in the state government’s reference group along with a number of councils.

STEP planning program

The STEP Planning Process Improvement Program helps member councils examine their strategic, statutory and enforcement planning services on a regular basis to make quality and efficiency breakthroughs.