Legislation related to 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.
The PE Act provides planning controls that overlap with related legislation, such as the:
- Environment Protection Act 2017 (Vic);
- Environment Effects Act 1978 (Vic);
- Subdivision Act 1988 (Vic).
Objectives of Victoria’s planning legislation
The objectives of planning and the planning framework in Victoria are set out in section 4 of the PE Act.
These objectives include:
- providing for the fair, orderly, economic and sustainable use and development of land;
- providing for the protection of natural and artificial (also called ‘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;
- protecting public utilities and other assets and enabling the orderly provision and coordination of public utilities and other facilities for the benefit of the community;
- facilitating development in accordance with the above objectives;
- facilitating the provision of affordable housing in Victoria;
- balancing the present and future interests of all Victorians;
- 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 regulatory tool that control the use and development of land in Victoria.
These planning schemes apply to both private and public land but there are some exceptions, which are discussed below.
Planning schemes are usually administered by local government (that is, councils).
Local government has a dual role; it is both:
- a planning authority that is responsible for the administration and amendment of planning schemes; and
- 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 regulatory context in which the decision is being made under the PE Act, and may vary under the applicable planning scheme.