More Smart Classes

In the two previous issues of BDAV News we have discussed the changes underway with the Victorian Government’s SmartPlanning program. VicSmart is the fast-track planning permit application process for certain classes of application, and they are non-notified and exempt from third party appeal. The VicSmart arrangements are set out in Clauses 90 to 95 of Victoria’s Planning Schemes. On 27 July 2017, as part of the SmartPlanning Program, the State Government introduced additional classes of application to the VicSmart planning process for the residential zones. These include:

  • To construct an outbuilding, extend or make structural changes to a dwelling in the Mixed Use, Township, Residential Growth, General Residential and Neighbourhood Residential zones, if certain requirements are met;
  • Buildings and works in a Mixed Use Zone up to an estimated cost of $100,000 (previously $50,000);
  • Buildings and works up to $100,000 (previously $50,000) in the Low Density Residential, Township, Residential Growth, General Residential and Neighbourhood Residential zones if the works are not associated with a dwelling and certain requirements are met.

In relation to constructing outbuildings, extending or altering dwellings, the requirements to be met to qualify a proposal for VicSmart include:

  • Meeting the minimum garden area requirement in the General and Neighbourhood Residential zones;
  • Not exceeding 5 metres in height;
  • Not visible from a street (other than a lane) or public park;
  • Meeting Clause 54 (ResCode) standards A10 to A15 which relate to amenity impacts, which become mandatory if the application is to be considered under VicSmart

These new provisions provide for modest single storey extensions which meet the relevant ResCode standards in Clause 54.04 which protect neighbours’ amenity, including setbacks; heights of walls; overshadowing; overlooking and daylight/solar access to windows. Compliance with these standards enables the application to be processed without the need for notice, objections or appeals by third parties. However, the third dot point seems difficult to qualify and may present some difficulty in assessing in the proposal stage, particularly for sloping or well-landscaped sites, or where streets are located some distance from the application site.

In relation to buildings and works not associated with a dwelling, the qualifying criteria includes the standards in Clause 54.04 and the $100,000 construction cost limit, but not the four additional criteria for extensions or changes to dwellings. This might apply to existing non-residential uses in residential zones, for example medical centres or child care centres.

These changes allow a wider range of planning permit applications which can be dealt with more quickly and with more certainty, given the exemption from notice, objections and objector appeal rights. It is certainly worth reviewing proposals which require a planning permit to check whether they are eligible to be prepared and lodged as VicSmart applications, potentially saving time, cost and complexity of process.

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