In the previous edition we looked in depth at Planning Scheme Amendment VC148, which introduced numerous structural and format changes affecting all of Victoria’s Planning Schemes. The Amendment was part of the Victorian Government’s Smart Planning program aiming to simplify and modernise planning policy and rules. In addition to the structural and format changes are a number of changes to the rules, which change the operation of Victoria’s Planning Schemes.
In this article we provide a summary of these changes, which include:
- Deleting outdated particular provisions;
- Notice and review provisions for the Development Plan Overlay;
- Changes to Sign provisions;
- Removing notice and review provisions for permits in a Road Zone Category 1;
- Deleting permit requirements for low-impact uses in industrial zones; and
- Reducing or varying car parking requirements for uses in commercial areas and for land within walking distance of high-quality public transport.
Some outdated Particular Provisions in previous Clauses 52, 53 and 57 have been deleted altogether, including three particular provisions that specified requirements for the use of land for:
- a service station (Clause 52.12),
- a car wash (Clause 52.13), or
- motor vehicle, boat or caravan sales (Clause 52.14).
it is considered these provisions were outdated and imposed unnecessary regulatory burden on business. However, to ensure appropriate amenity controls are maintained, the Mixed-Use zone and Industrial 1 zone have been amended to include appropriate amenity controls and decision guidelines for service stations.
Development Plan Overlay
The Development Plan Overlay (DPO) notice (advertising) and review (appeal) exemptions have now been clarified. The exemption in the DPO has been modified to remove the ‘catch 22’ identified in VCAT decision Saunders v Frankston CC (Red Dot)  VCAT 144 (19 February 2009).
The modification does not change the practical operation of the DPO, but does remove a source of potential confusion. The third purpose of the DPO has also been modified to reflect the change to the notice and review exemption. The notice and review provision of this clause now reads:
A permit must not be granted to use or subdivide land, construct a building or construct or carry out works until a development plan has been prepared to the satisfaction of the responsible authority. This does not apply if a schedule to this overlay specifically states that a permit may be granted before a development plan has been prepared to the satisfaction of the responsible authority
Provisions that regulate the use and development of land for signs have been amended to modernise, clarify and improve their structure and operation. In particular:
- The term ‘advertising signs’ has been replaced with ‘signs’ throughout planning schemes;
- A permit is no longer required to use land to display a sign. An exemption has been included in Clause 62.01 (Uses not requiring a permit).
- Sign provisions now require a permit to include a condition that provides on expiry of the permit the sign and structures built specifically to support and illuminate it must be removed. Previously this was only a requirement for ‘major promotion signs’.
- Definitions of what constitutes:
- “display area” has been amended to:
The area of that part of a sign used to display its content, including borders, surrounds and logo boxes. It does not include safety devices, platforms and lighting structures. If the sign does not move or rotate, the area is one side only
- “sign” has been amended to:
Includes a structure specifically built to support or illuminate a sign.
These last changes clarify the way in which sign areas or heights may be measured and therefore clarifies whether a permit is triggered or not for a sign proposal, or whether a sign is allowed or prohibited.
Clause 52.29 relates to works in a Road Zone, Category 1, or a Public Acquisition Overlay for a Category 1 Road., These are declared highways, or land set aside for that purpose, managed mostly by VicRoads. Many planning permits fronting a Road Zone, Category 1 include a permit trigger where a vehicle crossing is created, altered or removed. These types of applications are now exempt from the notice and third-party review (appeal) requirements.
Removal of permit trigger for “low-impact uses”.
A number of uses considered low-impact have been changed from Section 2 (permit required) to Section 1 uses (permit not required) in the specified industrial zones. A planning permit is no longer required to change the use of land to:
- Convenience shop in the Industrial 1 Zone.
- Take away food premises in the Industrial 1 Zone and Industrial 3 Zone.
- Service industry in the Industrial 3 Zone (subject to conditions specified in the table of uses, including setbacks from sensitive uses).
Amendment VC148 changes Clause 52.06 (Car parking) to reduce car parking requirements for new uses within existing buildings, in commercial areas which are within walking distance of public transport on the Principal Public Transport Network (PPTN). The PPTN is considered to include a network of high-quality public transport services based on existing services and committed service upgrades or projects. It includes:
- metropolitan train stations
- the tram network
- bus services with a high peak service frequency
- key interchanges (major shopping centres, Melbourne Airport, some university campuses and major park and ride facilities).
The PPTN encourages forms of development near the network which will provide more people with access to public transport services. The PPTN encourages more diverse and dense development near high-quality public transport to enhance public transport usage.
Amendment VC148 has incorporated the Principal Public Transport Network (PPTN) (State Government of Victoria, 2018). A mapping tool showing the PPTN is available online at this link https://transport.vic.gov.au/about/planning/principal-public-transport-network/
Of particular interest to practitioners will be the interactive PPTN area maps which show land within a 400 metre distance of the PPTN, available at this link: http://mapshare.maps.vic.gov.au/vicplan/.
The Car Parking provisions at Clause 52.06 have been amended by VC148 so that the reduced parking rates specified in Column B of Table 1 in Clause 52.06 now apply, if any part of the land is identified as being within 400 metres of the PPTN as shown on the (PPTN Area Maps). Column B in this table has a varied, often lower, requirement than Column A, and recognises the site advantages of being within walking distance of good public transport.
- The specified rate for car parking to use land for office purposes, outside of the PPTN area, is 3.5 spaces to each 100sqm of net floor area. This rate reduces to 3.0 spaces to each 100sqm of net floor area within the PPTN area.
- A restaurant has a standard requirement of 0.4 spaces per patron, outside of the PPTN area and a reduced rate of 3.5 to each 100sqm of leasable floor area within it.
Whereas previously this locational advantage was part of the considerations relevant to an application to reduce or waive car parking requirements, it is now an empirical tool that provides a reduced car parking rate in areas well serviced by the PPTN. Where your subject site is within the PPTN area, you may now no-longer need a planning permit for a car parking reduction.
Another significant change to the car parking provision is an exemption from the need for a planning permit for a car parking waiver or reduction for a new use of an existing building if the following requirements are met:
- The building is in the Commercial 1 Zone, Commercial 2 Zone or Activity Centre Zone.
- The gross floor area of the building is not increased.
- The reduction does not exceed 10 car parking spaces.
- The building is not in a Parking Overlay with a schedule that allows a financial contribution to be paid in lieu of the provision of the required car parking spaces for the use
This amendment should reduce permit requirements, time delays and costs associated with establishing a new business in commercial areas, particularly where car parking is/was the only planning permit trigger.
If you have current planning permit applications which are affected by these changes, and if these proposals no longer require a planning permit, the Responsible Authority should notify the applicant of this and consider whether a full or partial refund of the application fee is appropriate. There are no transitional provisions associated with these changes, so they effect all applications as of July 2018.
To the future…
In time we expect there to be further changes to planning schemes, enabled by the new format, as Councils:
- Integrate local planning policy into the Planning Policy Framework;
- Make greater use of schedules to zones and overlays to include locally relevant requirements and decision guidelines;
- Provide Statements of Significance for new Heritage Places;
- Use the new Specific Controls Overlay
We will keep you updated with relevant and significant changes to Victoria’s Planning Provisions as they arise.
As always, should you have any queries regarding the above information please do not hesitate to contact our office.
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