Not In My Backyard, Victoria’s Planning Reforms

Winds Of Change:

When it comes to property, the processes surround Town Planning Permits, Building permits – and when they are required – can be quite confusing for the uninitiated. There’s a lot of changes happening in Victoria at the moment with regards to land zoning – and what you can and can’t do with your property may soon change (if it hasn’t already!). As such, the triggers which determine if you will need to gain Town Planning approval (which is not always required) are likely to change.

Whilst this may be a familiar topic of decision for architects, designers, planners and proactive members of the construction industry, I suspect that most Victorian households are relatively unaware of the impending changes and what it will all mean at street level.

State Wide:

Leading up to August this year, the State Government was busily creating a raft of new land zones and controls as toolkit for councils to more clearly define where and how properties can be developed in a way that is much more clearly defined. Whilst these Planning Reforms affect all the land uses (Commercial, Rural, Industrial etc), it is the new Residential Zones that will affect home owners most.

local Council:

These new zoning “tools” – particularly the three new Residential Zones – are much clearer in their mandate for residential growth and development: areas are classified as ofgo-go’ (aka Residential Growth Zone) ,slow-go’ (General Residential Zone) orno-go’ (Neighbourhood Residential Zone). But it is councils that will decide where these zones will be applied. They (council) will also have the ability customise these zones to suit their local policies – with provisions such as:

• Building heights
• Lot sizes
• Number of dwellings
• As well as the ability to adjust other siting measures

The “Gotcha’s”:

If you’ve been through a Town Planning application process before, the first two zones “go-go” and “go-slow” don’t appear significantly different from the current rules, is fact they can be more relaxed in some cases (although you need to check if/how council have customised the standard rules in the relevant Zone’s schedule). But it is the Neighbourhood Residential Zone (“no-go”) which introduces some significant restrictions in terms of maximum building height and limiting the maximum number of dwellings to 2. This will rule out any aspirations of a 3+ unit development (and the perceived value of your land).

So when looking at the opportunities for selling, buying , or redeveloping – it is time well spent to do your council research, or talking to a professional who’s informed of the looming changes and council process.

Living The Mystery:

Every council now has job of figuring out where each of these zone boundaries are to be applied, and they have been given a deadline of July 2014 to do this. Some councils, however, are looking to implement that changes far soon than this. Each council is undertaking this individually, so as to where and how they will apply these zones is yet to be decided for many councils, as is the timeframe for when these will be in operation

So, whilst the definitions are much clearer, until the dust settles on all these changes, there is still a significant amount on “unknowns”.
The “where, how and when” on the town planning zones will only be fully know state-wide when the July 2014 deadline arrives.
The impact of these changes, in terms of what you are allowed to do, and how it will affect property – and consequently property values – only time will tell.