Planning Scheme Amendment process

Each municipality in Victoria is covered by a planning scheme that regulates the use, development and protection of the land. A planning scheme can only be changed by a formal amendment process. This usually consists of public exhibition of the draft amendment, followed by a panel review and submission to the Minister for Planning for a decision.

The works planned under VMFRP trigger several planning approval requirements. Draft planning scheme amendments (PSAs) are currently being prepared for the Campaspe, Gannawarra, Swan Hill and Mildura planning schemes. They will be exhibited concurrently with the EES and ER documentation later in 2022, giving the community an opportunity to have their say.

Draft PSAs are one part of a package of approvals needed before VMFRP construction can begin.

For more information on the planning process in Victoria, visit the DELWP website.

Projects also need several secondary consents/approvals including approval from Parks Victoria / Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change under section 27 of the National Parks Act 1975 for the project to undertake works in parks.

All local councils in Victoria have planning schemes in place. A planning scheme is a statutory document which sets out the objectives, policies and provisions for the use, development and protection of land in the area to which it applies. They prescribe how land can and cannot be used and developed, including what permits are required for particular uses or development.

Planning Schemes can be amended, in accordance with processes established by the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (Vic) to achieve a planning outcome or support a new policy direction or project.

To help with the efficient delivery of the projects, we are seeking to “switch off” the need to obtain a series of individual planning permits that would ordinarily be needed. In lieu of the planning permits, the VMFRP would be required to meet conditions prescribed by the Minister for Planning in an ‘Incorporated Document’ that will be added to the relevant Planning Scheme. This will ensure that the objectives and requirements on the Planning and Environment Act 1987 are still met.

The conditions will apply only to the construction and operation of the VMFRP projects, within a geographic extent defined by a Specific Controls Overlay (SCO). The SCO will cover public and applicable private land. PSAs are common for the construction and operation of infrastructure projects within Victoria.

We’ll seek approval from the Minister for Planning to the amend the planning schemes across the nine project areas. We’ll ask the Minister to prepare and approve the PSAs under Section 20(4) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987.

The decisions to amend the planning schemes are based on a comprehensive assessment of the potential benefits and impacts of each project. These assessments are documented in an environment effects statements or an environment report. These will be placed on public exhibition enabling the community to understand the projects, their potential effects, and the suitability of the proposed PSA.

While on public exhibition, the community will have an opportunity to make a formal submission that will be considered by the Minister for Planning in making their determination on the projects. More information on the PSA process is available at on the Victorian Government’s planning website.

The VMFRP will be asking the Minister for Planning to amend the applicable Planning Scheme. This amendment will exempt VMFRP from requiring planning permits by applying a Specific Controls Overlay (SCO) to the project areas and inserting an Incorporated Document with conditions for the project areas into the affected Planning Schemes.

Amending the planning schemes to insert an SCO and an Incorporated Document will allow the VMFRP to progress in a more streamlined manner without the need for the series of individual planning permits, provided conditions are met as set out in the Incorporated Document.

The conditions may include aspects such as environmental and heritage management. The proposed SCO and Incorporated Document will apply to both public and private land, as well as any land temporarily needed for construction.

The draft PSA will be placed on public exhibition as part of and alongside an environment effects statements or an environment report. The community will have the opportunity to review the draft conditions and make a formal submission on them, or any other aspect of the VMFRP project, that will help inform the statutory decision-making process. More information on this is provided under ‘Have your say’, below.

The proposed SCO and Incorporated Document will only apply for the purpose of delivering the VMFRP and will not change your ability to do what you are currently permitted to do on your land. If your land is within the proposed area of the SCO, the VMFRP team will be in contact to discuss what this means for your property and address any other queries or feedback you many have.