Updated Industrial Buffers (now known as “Threshold distances”)

One of the fundamental purposes of ‘town planning’ is to separate uses which are incompatible, in order to reduce the impacts of one use upon the other, and to allow areas where impact-heavy uses can operate without reverse-amenity impact implications. In the Victorian Planning Provisions this is achieved, in part, by planning policy, in part by zoning provisions which control or prohibit uses within each zone, Particular Provisions which provide guidance for specific activities and most importantly, Clause 53.10 Uses and Activities with Potential Adverse Impacts 

The purpose of Clause 53.20 is to identify those types of uses and activities, which if not appropriately designed and located, may cause offence or unacceptable risk to the neighbourhood. The clause sets out threshold distances for potentially offensive or harmful activities, in order to protect sensitive zones and uses, or land set aside for sensitive uses, from those impacts. 

Recent State-wide Planning Scheme Amendment VC175 updated the planning provisions to improve the way the planning system addresses buffers for amenity, human health and safety impacts 

Amendment VC175 aims to: 

  • Strengthen State policy for distance thresholds by implementing the (EPA) Recommended Separation Distances for Industrial Residual Air Emissions, 2013 
  • Modify Clause 53.10, Uses with Adverse Amenity Potential, with updated uses descriptions and threshold distances, add thresholds for a broader and more specific range of activities, and clarify the referral process for uses with potential adverse amenity impacts 
  • Modify zone provisions to specify that certain uses (depending on the zone) are as-of-right, permit-required or prohibited, depending on how they are listed in the Table at Clause 53.10.  

Changes to Clause 53.10 include: 

  • A new requirement for referral to the EPA where threshold distances in the table to the zone are not met 
  • Alterations to some threshold distances to ensure consistency with the above EPA regulations. including increases to threshold distances in some instances  
  • An increase in the number of specified uses  

Clause 66.02 Use and Development Referrals has also been amended with updated referral requirements for the EPA and the Victorian WorkCover Authority.  

In conjunction with Amendment VC175, Planning Advisory Note 92: Managing buffers for land use compatibility, has been published by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. The practice note provides guidance on the requirements of the new provisions and can be found here 

Practitioners should be mindful of these updated requirements when involved with projects for uses and activities with potential adverse amenity impacts.  

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