On 31 July 2018 the Victorian State Government gazetted Planning Scheme Amendment VC148, affecting all of Victoria’s Planning Schemes and introducing significant structural changes. The Amendment is part of the Victorian Government’s Smart Planning program and aims to simplify and modernise planning policy and rules.

In summary, Planning Scheme Amendment VC148:

  • Introduces a new Planning Policy Framework (PPF)
  • Enables the future introduction of a Municipal Planning Strategy (MPS)
  • Simplifies the Victoria Planning Provisions (VPPs) structure by:
  • restructuring particular provisions
  • integrating VicSmart into applicable zones, overlays and particular provisions
  • consolidating operational and administrative provisions

The State Government has noted:

Amendment VC148 does not introduce new permit requirements. However, a number of uses and other matters no longer require a permit and some requirements have been reduced (for example, car parking requirements).

While there are numerous changes to the structure of the planning scheme, it is the changes to the rules and regulations components which are likely to be of most consequence to practitioners. Indeed, the State Government considered the Amendment to be “policy neutral”.

The changes are wide ranging, and in this issue we provide a summary of the changes to the structural changes., PPF

One of the main aims of the Amendment has been the merging of previous State policy, regional policy and local policy into one framework, now known as the Planning Policy Framework (PPF).  The local content (still shown as the ”Local Planning Policy Framework”) has not yet been integrated into the PPF, but will be integrated in the coming months.

The Amendment has also provided a standard policy format. Each policy now includes ‘objectives’ and ‘strategies’ and where necessary, ‘policy guidelines’ and ‘policy documents’. A standardised format will also be applied to local planning policies when they are included in the PPF in the future.


A new Vision and Purpose are provided in Clauses 00 and 01. The Purpose of planning schemes is:

  • To provide a clear and consistent framework within which decisions about the use and development of land can be made.
  • To express state, regional, local and community expectations for areas and land uses.
  • To provide for the implementation of State, regional and local policies affecting land use and development.

In the previous format, Clause 02 provided a user guide and detail on the permit process. Clause 2 has been deleted and the content now published on the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning website.

Clause 02 is now available for Local new content, being the new Municipal Planning Strategy (MPS). This will set out the context, vision, strategic directions and strategic framework plan(s) for each municipality. This content is yet to be populated. The MPS supports but does not form part of the PPF. The PPF and MPS will work together to form the strategic basis of a planning scheme.

Clauses 03 and 09 previously set out a Contents section (now deleted) and detail of the State Planning Document Plan Melbourne (now incorporated elsewhere).

Clause 10 previously set out the Operation of the State Planning Policy Framework. The content of this section has been moved to Clause 71, which also includes:

  • Operation of the Municipal Planning Strategy; and
  • Operation of the Planning Policy Framework, zones, overlays, particular provisions, and the VicSmart process.

What previously formed the State Planning Policy in Clauses 11 to 19 is generally retained, although numerous policies have been integrated, resulting in some clauses being deleted, renamed and with some content changed. For example, Clause 11.04 Open Space policy has been integrated with Clause 19.02 Community Infrastructure. Policies 11.06 to 11.15, dealing with Metropolitan Melbourne and the various regions of Victoria have been integrated within the relevant themes as regional policy or, where appropriate, incorporated into the state policy. Where these policies are region-specific within a planning scheme (and not state wide) they are provided with an “R”, whereas State wide policies are affixed with an “S”. For example, the Swan Hill Planning Scheme Clause 19.02-1R Health facilities – Loddon Mallee North is a regional policy not found in the Alpine Planning Scheme, however both have the State policy 19.02-1S Health facilities.

Clause 20 Local Planning Policy Framework is retained and contains the Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS) at Clause 21 and Local Planning Policies at Clause 22.

The Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS) is a concise statement of the key strategic planning, land use and development objectives for the municipality and the strategies and actions for achieving the objectives.  A new Clause 23 provides explanation on the operation of the local planning policy framework, the MSS and local planning policies.

Importantly, Clause 23.01 states:

Clauses 21 and 22 of this planning scheme (the Local Planning Policy Framework) form part of the Planning Policy Framework. Where a provision of this planning scheme requires consideration of the Planning Policy Framework, that consideration must include Clauses 21 and 22. A reference in this planning scheme, including any incorporated document, to the:

  • State Planning Policy Framework or the Local Planning Policy Framework is to be taken to be a reference to the Planning Policy Framework.
  • Planning Policy Framework is to be taken to include the Local Planning Policy Framework.

Zones and Overlays

Structural changes to the Zone and Overlay provisions retain the clause numbers and headings but amend content to:

  • Integrate the table of classes of State VicSmart applications into the zones and overlays (and particular provisions);
  • Create a new Clause 45.12 Specific Controls Overlay which can be used to apply specific controls designed to achieve a particular purpose in extraordinary circumstances.
  • Enable certain zones to specify additional matters including purposes, objectives, application requirements or decision guidelines, (also in Clause 52.28 Gaming);
  • Clause 43.01 Heritage Overlay now requires the schedule to the Overlay to specify a Statement of Significance for each heritage place, to be included in the schedule. This requirement has transitional provisions to exempt a heritage place included in the schedule before or within three months after the commencement of Amendment VC148; and
  • Amend Clause 43.04 Development Plan Overlay to clarify when an application is exempt from notice (advertising) and review (appeal) requirements;

Particular Provisions

The Particular Provisions previously in Clauses 52, 53 and 57 have been rearranged into three new clauses;

  • Clause 51: Provisions that apply only to a specified area – these will vary from scheme to scheme and have been relocated from previous Clauses 52 and 53;
  • Clause 52: Provisions that require, enable or exempt a permit – many of these clauses have been renumbered and content amended; and
  • Clause 53: General Requirements and Performance Standards – includes many of the provisions previously in Clause 52, which are less area-specific than Clause 51 provisions and are applicable throughout the State.

Some outdated Particular Provisions have been deleted altogether, including service station, car wash and motor vehicle, boat or caravan sales requirements. However, the Mixed Use and Industrial 1 zones are amended to provide appropriate amenity standards and decision guidelines.

“Advertising sign” provisions at Clause 52.05 (and elsewhere in the Planning Scheme) are now referred to as “Sign” provisions. The sign provisions are amended to:

  • Clarify signs within the general exemption clauses in Clause 62;
  • Enable a schedule to exempt certain types of signs from notice and review;
  • Includes new definitions for sign terms “display area” and “sign”;
  • Exempt the display of a sign from any requirement relating to the use of the land; and
  • Includes “Sign” as a new land use term.

Clause 54, 55 and 56 provisions (ResCode) and Clause 58 Apartment Standards generally keep their Clause numbers, although some have amended content. The local VicSmart provisions, and the State and local VicSmart information requirements have been removed from Clauses 90 – 95 and located to Clause 59 with some limited changes to the content. Details of how the VicSmart provisions operate has been moved to Clause 71.06.

General Provisions

The Structure and much of the content in Clauses 62 General Exemptions, 63 Existing uses, 64 General Provisions for Use and Development of Land, 65 Decision Guidelines, 66 Referral and Notice Provisions, 67 Applications under Section 96 of the Act remains.

Operation Provisions

A new section Operational Provisions at Clauses 70-74 consolidates the operational, administrative and other provisions including:

  • New Clause 71 provides details on how the MPS and PPF, zones, overlays, particular provisions and VicSmart operate, the content relocated from various other separate clauses;
  • New Clause 72 contains administrative provisions, including a list of incorporated and background documents (previously in Clause 61);
  • New Clause 73 integrates previously separate Clauses for the meanings of general, landuse and sign terms, and the nesting diagrams. Nesting Diagrams Clauses have been reduced from 17 to 1 clause; and
  • New Clause 74 includes provisions to be used in the future transition of the Local Planning Policy Frameworks to the new MPS and PPF.

Other changes

The Amendment also incorporates the Principal Public Transport Network (PPTN) Area Maps (State Government of Victoria, 2018) which is available online at this link

The Victorian State Government describes the PPTN as 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 is a land use planning tool to encourage increased density and diversity of development near public transport corridors.

… this is not a blanket rule. Other factors such as planning controls, local context, existing built form, heritage and other local policies will also influence land use decisions.

Of relevance to practitioners, Clause 52.06 now includes a reduced parking requirement for locations within proximity of the PPTN, by applying the ‘Column B’ rates currently found in Clause 52.06.


Links to the two planning advisory notes AN71 and AN72 can be found online at

These advisory notes provide a succinct summary of the changes. This link also contains useful:

  • Frequently Asked Questions;
  • Summary of Changes; and
  • Detailed list of changes to the Victorian Planning Provisions.

Content changes in the next issue

In the next issue we will be looking at the changes to the rules in the planning scheme, which include amendments to signage, car parking, various permit triggers and other content amendments which change the operation of Victoria’s Planning Schemes. It is worthwhile reviewing the permit triggers and notice requirements for any current application you may have with Council. Changes made by VC148 may remove permit triggers or notice requirements and may result in refunds of fees for aspects of permit applications no longer required.

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