Agenda Item 9.6 – Council’s submission to Smart Planning ‘Reforms’

Smart Planning basically represents the State Government’s further tinkering with VicSmart – the system where permits for various ‘minor’ applications aren’t publicised and approval is granted in 10 days. It also represents the attempt to further deregulate planning and pave the way for less council and resident ‘interference’. Whilst it is true that the current planning system is unwieldy and basically a mess, this doesn’t mean that ‘improvement’ is synonymous with less transparency and more advantages being handed out to the development industry.

The proposals, in broad terms, include –

  • align the State Planning Policy Framework and Local Planning Policy Framework into an integrated policy framework
  • review and rationalise planning permit triggers•
  • review and increase permit exemptions

All of the above basically means that:

  • Local council policies will now have to fit into those ‘themes’ specifically determined by State Policy
  • Less application ‘triggers’ means less control and oversight
  • More permit exemptions means less people know what’s going on until it’s too late

So the $64,000 question for residents is – how does Glen Eira Council respond to this ‘discussion paper’? How does council’s submission differ from other councils?  Council SUPPORTS either fully or ‘in principle’ every single thing suggested! The pro-development agenda is obvious!

Unlike other council submissions, Glen Eira makes no comment whatsoever on the following important proposed ‘revisions’ – Heritage, zoning, liquor licenses, etc. Here are some responses from various councils. We ask that readers compare what these councils have submitted and what our council has produced!


Additional exemptions should not be supported (in Heritage) as the alterations to verandas and pergolas can significantly impact on a heritage precinct.

Unintended consequences – The reformed provisions will potentially change standards zones, including the Activity Centre and Mixed Use Zones where there is currently no equivalent zone. This will not change the intent of the zone, however could impact on Council’s ability to customise land uses in specific areas, as there will be increased ‘as of right’ uses (no permit required) and prohibited uses may be considered as a section 2 use (permit required subject to policy).

Liquor Licences and Gaming – Council has highlighted the opportunity to give local government greater jurisdiction over the assessment of planning permit applications for liquor licences and gaming.

Ensure that the parking overlay continues to allow the collection of cash to enable Council’s to gain some compensation for constructing public car parking and when applicants cannot provide car parking on their sites.. The recent introduction of the residential zones, specifically the Residential Growth Zone, requires further consideration of car parking rates and how they apply to this zone. It is noted that the last ministerial advisory committee examined car parking rates in 2012, prior to the changes to the residential zones.


MPSC does not support the proposal to expand VicSmart on the basis that it reduces the inclusion of third parties in the planning process.

MPSC do not support the VicSmart assessment pathway in the first instance given its inability to consider and allow third party concerns and review rights

A key concern of the MPSC are the proposals that will make a number of land uses as of right. Such land uses are a common source of amenity and land use conflict. For example, industrial areas are being constantly challenged by an influx of non-industrial land operators being attracted by the cheaper lease opportunities. Frequently planners are required to strike the balance between preserving industrial land for manufacturing and/or warehousing with ‘new age’ commercial land uses such as gyms, dance schools and breweries. Carparking and conflict between operations is a genuine issue that requires careful balancing through a detailed planning permit consideration

Additionally, the reforms seek to enable licensed premises to be ‘as of right’ within commercial zones. There is concern that this could have lasting and direct impact within the townships of the Mornington Peninsula. For example, under the Commercial 1 Zone a restaurant, tavern (aka bar), nightclub and bottle shop are all ‘as of right’ land uses under the zone


One example of a potential consequence of being made to fit into the new policy structure is that Council’s substantial investment in structure planning for activity centres could be undermined or even wasted if the hierarchy of centres implied in Stonnington’s current MSS, Local Polices and Incorporated documents is made to align more closely with the hierarchy of centres outlined in Plan Melbourne when translated into the new PPF structure. This could result in Council not being able to achieve all of the currently intended policy outcomes for activity centres in Stonnington.

The introduction of code -based assessment for simple proposals is intended to eliminate much of the subjectivity and delay in decision -making. However, it could also result in some loss of planning control over issues that are important to the municipality and should be assessed against the appropriate planning provisions, e.g. liquor licensing and single dwellings on small lots (i.e. under 300m² or 500m²).

Liquor licensing can contribute to adverse impacts on residential and commercial amenity if not appropriately regulated. Therefore, proposed measures to remove liquor licensing from assessment under the planning scheme (Proposal 3.2 and Proposal 5.1 -Clause 52.27 ‘Licensed premises’) are not supported.

The inclusion of smaller lots standards as part of code assessment is not supported, especially if it could result in the loss of the assessment process against the relevant planning provisions in relation to side and rear setbacks of dwellings and upper -storey additions. This could result in unacceptable visual bulk and detrimental impact on neighbouring private open space.

Finally, we’ve uploaded an article written by Prof Michael Buxton in March this year. Whilst this preceded the publication of VC110 and the release of the current discussion paper, most of the points made remain valid.