Land use planning

The Planning and Environment Act 1987 (Vic) (“PE Act”) provides a framework for integrating controls in land use, development planning and environment protection in Victoria. It provides planning controls, which overlap with related legislation, such as the Environment Protection Act 1970 (Vic) (“EP Act”), the Environment Effects Act 1978 (Vic) (“EE Act”) and the Subdivision Act 1988 (Vic).

The objects of planning established by section 4 of the PE Act include:

providing for the protection of natural and man-made resources and the maintenance of ecological processes and genetic diversity;

conserving and enhancing buildings, areas, or other places that are of scientific, aesthetic, architectural or historical interest or of other cultural value;

balancing present and future interests of all Victorians; and

ensuring that the environmental, social and economic effects are considered when decisions are made about use and development of land.

An overview of land use planning law in Victoria

Planning schemes created under the PE Act are the main regulations that control the use and development of land in Victoria. These planning schemes apply to both private and public land in Victoria; there are some exceptions, which are discussed below.

Planning schemes are usually administered by local government. Local government has a dual role: it is a planning authority that is responsible for the administration and amendment of planning schemes, and it is a responsible authority that is responsible for making decisions about applications for permits and enforcing planning schemes.

The Minister for Planning and the Victorian Government Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) also play important roles in administering planning in Victoria. Other state government departments and agencies have responsibilities relating to decision-making under planning schemes – these are known as referral authorities.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) deals with disputes about planning permits and the enforcement of planning schemes. Planning Panels Victoria considers issues in relation to the amendment of planning schemes.

Public consultation, notification, objection and appeal rights are an important feature of the PE Act and the administration of planning schemes. These rights vary depending on the operation of the PE Act and the applicable planning scheme.