Smart Planning Program

In July 2016, the Victorian Government introduced the Smart Planning program, to make the planning process in Victoria easier to understand, more efficient and accessible by:

  • simplifying and modernising Victoria’s planning rules
  • making planning information easier to find and understand
  • introducing new technologies to improve accessibility and interaction with information and services
  • establishing more effective and accessible engagement with community, businesses, local government and industry

The current planning system is perceived as becoming increasingly complex, inaccessible and inefficient, leading to lengthy approval times and high compliance costs. There is also a perception of barriers to the community and business professionals understanding and participating in the planning process. Since the last review of the planning system in 1993, planning provisions and schemes have expanded significantly, becoming difficult to understand, with some duplication of policy and conflict between the State and local planning policy.

Specific initiatives of the Smart Planning programs include:

  • integrating state and local planning policy to identify and remove repetition, inconsistencies and redundancies, and ensure terminology is consistent and clear (SPPF restructure expected late-2017)
  • expanding the existing VicSmart fast-track process
  • an online planning portal as a single point of entry for Victorian planning information and services
  • an online lodgement system for Ministerial permit applications (such as developments over 25,000sqm gross floor area in the CBD, wind farms, heritage permits) later extended to other types of permits
  • a new planning scheme information management system
  • interactive online planning maps to replace static PDF maps
  • changing overlays and zones, reducing duplication between multiple controls
  • limiting permit triggers.

The first initiatives to be implemented are the expansion of the VicSmart fast-track permit application process (introduced in April 2017), a new Victorian Government planning website (December 2016) and a current pilot of online lodgements and tracking for ministerial permit applications. Readers should expect reforms and improvements to the planning system until mid-2018, and subject to further government funding, additional transformational work after mid-2018. Specific activities to gather feedback from the wider community will be confirmed as part of the Reform and Transform stages, in mid-2017.

To date the Victorian Government has undertaken surveys, presentations, structured workshops, and spoken with advisory groups, councils, industry and other peak bodies, and state government departments and agencies. The BDAV participated in the initial consultation and has ongoing representation in discussions on the technical components of program implementation.

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