ESD added to the Planning Schemes of 7 Victorian Councils

October 2018 saw approval given for new Environmentally Sustainable Development (ESD) Clauses to be added into the Planning Schemes of seven new Victorian Councils. These Councils are the Cities of Greater Bendigo, Brimbank, the Greater Dandenong, Hobsons Bay, Kingston, Whittlesea and Wyndham. The new Local Policy ESD clauses require some form of ESD Assessment to be completed during the Planning Approval process.

Planning applications for single dwellings will not be affected, because the clauses trigger a Sustainable Design Assessment for proposed developments of at least two or three dwellings. Large developments (10 or more dwellings) will require a more comprehensive Sustainability Management Plan (SMP) and in most cases also a Green Travel Plan (GTP). For non-residential developments the triggers are quite varied between the six councils: the SDA trigger is for developments with a Gross Floor Area (GFA) of as little as 50 or as much as 1000m2, whereas an SMP/GTP is triggered between 1000 and 2500m2.

These councils join the Cities of Banyule, Darebin, Knox, Manningham, Melbourne, Monash, Moreland, Port Phillip, Stonnington, Whitehorse and Yarra, which already have ESD Clauses as part of their Local Policy (Clause 22), bringing the total to 18.

The objective of the Local Policy ESD clauses is to ensure that ESD is considered early in the design process, when the opportunity to influence sustainability outcomes is greater, and the cost lower, compared with later in the design and construction process when it is more difficult and costly to implement cost-saving sustainability initiatives.

Under the Heading “Why is the Amendment required?”, the GC110 Explanatory Report that was released with the Planning Approval Amendment states: “The amendment is required to strengthen the ability of responsible authorities to consider ESD through the Local Planning Policy Framework (LPPF), whilst a comprehensive state-wide response on ESD is prepared.” It goes on to say that “this will help to achieve positive environmental, social and economic outcomes associated with a sustainable built environment.”

More than half of the Local Government areas in Metropolitan Melbourne now require assessment of ESD as part of the Planning Approval process. Several other Councils, including Moonee Valley, Bayside and Casey also have clauses which require Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) or ESD to be assessed as part of the Planning Scheme, either in the Local Policy (Clause 22), the Municipal Strategic Statement (Clause 21) or other areas such as Overlays. In addition, apartment developments across Victoria are now subject to the Better Apartment Design Standards (BADS) which require some aspects of ESD and WSUD to be assessed.

If you would like to understand better how these changes may impact on your project, don't hesitate to call our office and speak with a friendly member of our team. Alternatively you are more than welcome to drop us an email and we will answer any questions to the best of our ability.