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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.


The VicSmart approvals process commenced on 19 September 2014 for a range of simple planning permit applications.

This 15-minute video for CEOs and council executives explains what VicSmart is and what it means for councils.

What is ​VicSmart?

Transcript (Word - 41.9KB)

Risk based enforcement

The Stronger Planning Enforcement – Risk Assessment Tool and Supplementary Resource has been prepared by Rural Councils Victoria and the MAV to assist councils to determine enforcement priorities, having regard to available resources.

The documents adopt a risk assessment approach through a process of identifying areas for proactive and reactive enforcement and determining the risk profile of potential breaches.

They are designed to complement existing policies and complaint handling procedures.

Planning workforce

In response to the shortage of local government planners needed by councils, we are working with the planning industry, educational institutions and Victorian Government on a number of strategies.

We run a comprehensive program of events, policy workshops, forums and training for both councillors and officers.

Key components of the program include:

Further professional development programs are offered by LGPro, the peak body for local government professionals, with opportunities such as the Emerging Leaders Program and Local Government Mentoring Program.

Specific courses with planning content are also available including, a Certificate IV in Local Government (Planning).

Contact us

Michelle Croughan
Planning Policy Adviser
03 9667 5541
0418 115 122