New Planning Policy for Water Sensitive Urban Design

The inner-Melbourne municipal Councils of Melbourne, Port Phillip, Stonnington and Yarra have recently exhibited a proposed planning scheme policy which relates to stormwater management.  These Councils have now adopted the policy and have jointly submitted the proposed policy to the Minister of Planning for approval.

The proposed Stormwater Management (Wa­ter Sensitive Urban Design) policy applies to all planning-permit applications for:

  • new buildings;
  • extensions to existing buildings which are 50 square metres in floor area or greater;
  • subdivision in a business zone.

The proposed policy does not apply to an ap­plication for a subdivision of an existing build­ing.

A key objective of the new policy is to reduce the impacts of new urban development by incorporating stormwater treatment measures into the design at the planning stage, with the aim of improving the quality and decreasing the quantity of stormwater entering the Port Phillip catchment.

The new policy has implications at the building design and planning permit application stages. Under the new provisions it is policy to (in summary):

  • Ensure that developments comply with the best practice performance objectives for suspended solids, total phosphorus and total nitrogen as set out in the Urban Stormwater Best Practice Environmental Management Guidelines, Victoria Stormwater Committee 1999 as amended;
  • Require the use of stormwater treatment measures to improve the quality and reduce the flow of stormwater discharged to waterways;
  • Encourage measures to prevent litter being carried off-site in stormwater flows.

Importantly for building designers, the new policy includes a requirement for applications to include a Water Sensitive Urban Design Response including, as appropriate:

  • A site layout plan showing the location of stormwater treatment measures;
  • A report outlining compliance with the best practice performance objectives set out in the Urban Stormwater Best Practice Environmental Management Guidelines, Victoria Stormwater Committee 1999 as amended, such as a report from an industry accepted performance tool;
  • Design details to assess the effectiveness of the stormwater treatment measures;
  • A site management plan which details how the site will be managed through construction and setting out ongoing operational and maintenance requirements.

Should the Planning Scheme Amendments be approved by the Minister, stormwater management will become an important part of building design for a large number of development and subdivision proposals within these municipalities. It is uncertain at this stage what degree of detail will be required for any particular project, but it is likely that the extent of information will be relative to the size and scope of the project. The BDAV has lodged a submission to the relevant Councils and DPCD, in support of the objectives of the policy but raising issues of how the policy will be implemented (including the lack of exemptions for small projects) and seeking clarity on what stormwater management detail would be required at building design and planning permit stages.

Seek Professional Advice: Information contained in this publication should be considered as a reference only and is not a substitute for professiional advice. No liability will be accepted for any loss incurred as a result of relying on the information contained in this publication. Seek professional advice in specific circumstances.
Copyright: If you would like to reproduce or use for your own purposes any part of this publication please contact for assistance.

Clause1 Pty Ltd
Phone: 03 9370 9599 
Fax: 03 9370 9499 

Last updated 091110