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About planning schemes

Planning Schemes Online provides access to all current approved planning schemes in Victoria.

On this page:

What is a planning scheme?

A planning scheme is a statutory document which sets out objectives, policies and provisions for the use, development and protection of land in the area to which it applies. A planning scheme regulates the use and development of land through planning provisions to achieve those objectives and policies.

Each of the 79 local government areas in Victoria and each of the three special planning areas (Alpine Resorts, Port of Melbourne, and French and Sandstone Island) is covered by a planning scheme.

Planning schemes are legal documents prepared by the local council or the Minister for Planning, and approved by the Minister.

You should obtain advice from either a council planner or a planning professional before taking any action which may be affected by a planning scheme requirement.

User Guide

If you are unfamiliar with using planning schemes, we suggest you read the User Guide at Clause 04 of the planning scheme first.

The User Guide in a planning scheme explains the role and structure of a planning scheme, that it is subject to change, its relationship to planning permits and the permit process.

More information about planning schemes is available on the department's website in explanatory web pages, publications such as Planning on a page,Using Victoria's Planning System and planning practice notes.

What do planning schemes consist of?

Planning schemes consist of:

  • maps, which show how the land is zoned and overlays affecting the land
  • an ordinance, which sets out the written requirements of a scheme, including local policies and the types of use or development which needs a permit
  • incorporated documents - such as the Code of Practice for Private Tennis Court Development.

Zones indicate the primary character of the land, whether it is residential, industrial or rural, and determine the types of uses that may occur in that zone.

Some local areas have special planning controls (known as overlays), such as areas of significant vegetation or special heritage significance. These controls are in addition to the zone controls and ensure that important aspects of the land are recognised.

Specific planning requirements for an area that are in addition to the standard zones and overlays and some other clauses can be provided in a schedule.

In addition to zones and overlays, other requirements in the ordinance such as particular provisions may also apply depending on the proposal for the land.

Planning schemes contain State standard provisions drawn from the Victoria Planning Provisions as well as local policy and provisions. More information about the Victoria Planning Provisions and the standard structure of planning schemes is provided below.

What is the structure of a planning scheme?

The diagram below shows the standard structure of a planning scheme ordinance.

State provisions

Fixed state content and zones, overlays and incorporated documents are from the State standard planning provisions called the Victoria Planning Provisions.

Local provisions

Planning scheme content specific to the local area (local provisions) is contained in the Municipal Strategic Statement, local policies, schedules and incorporated documents.

The components of a planning scheme

More information on the structure of planning schemes...   

What are the Victoria Planning Provisions?

The Planning and Environment Act 1987 distinguishes between the Victoria Planning Provisions (VPP) and a planning scheme.

The Victoria Planning Provisions is a comprehensive set of planning provisions for Victoria. It is not a planning scheme and does not apply to any land. It is a statewide reference, used as required, to construct planning schemes.

The planning authority (usually the local council) must provide the local planning policy content, including a Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS), and select the appropriate zones and overlays from the VPP, for inclusion in their planning scheme. The VPP also has references to a number of incorporated documents. Some parts of the VPP, such as state policies, are included in every planning scheme.

When any provision in the VPP is amended, all planning schemes containing that provision are also amended. Only the Minister for Planning can amend the VPP.

More information on the Victoria Planning Provisions...

How can a planning scheme be changed?

Councils can decide to amend a planning scheme to achieve a desired planning outcome or to support a new policy direction. The process for changing a planning scheme must be followed exactly and involves anyone who may have an interest in the amendment, or be affected by it.

Amendments currently on exhibition or very recently approved can be viewed on the Planning documents on Exhibition page.

All current and approved amendments can be viewed in the Amendments Register.

More information on changing a planning scheme...

How often is Planning Schemes Online updated?

Planning schemes are changed by planning scheme amendments. Planning Schemes Online is updated on the day an approved amendment has been published in the Victoria Government Gazette. Typically amendments are gazetted once a week on a Thursday.

The list of amendments that have been included in the scheme to date is also updated on the day of gazettal. You can view the list of amendments by selecting the Planning Schemes Online 'Updates and Amendments' tab.

The list of amendments is also available as a separate PDF at the end of the planning scheme. It shows all approved gazetted amendments included in the planning scheme to date.

You can view planning scheme amendments in the Amendments Register.

Where else can I get information about a planning scheme?

The Planning and Environment Act 1987 requires the responsible authority and municipal council, and anybody else specified by the Minister to maintain an up-to-date copy of the planning scheme, including all amendments to it and documents referred to in the scheme. The scheme and any accompanying documentation must be made available free of charge for public inspection during office hours.

Planning scheme information is also provided in other formats such as Planning Certificates, Planning Maps Online and the Planning Property Report.

More on getting information about planning schemes...

Who and what is affected by a planning scheme?

Planning schemes can apply to all private and public land in Victoria. A planning scheme is generally binding on all people and corporations, on every Minister, government department, public authority and local council.

Who is exempt?

Some exemptions do apply. These relate to existing use rights, exemptions declared under section 16 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987, Commonwealth land and permanently reserved Crown land.

Who administers a planning scheme?

The administration and enforcement of a planning scheme is the duty of a responsible authority. In most cases this will be a local council, but it can be the Minister administering the Planning and Environment Act 1987 or any other Minister or public authority specified in Clause 61.01 of the scheme.

Changes to the planning scheme may be made by both the Minister for Planning and the local council.

What is the role of the Minister?

From time to time, the Minister for Planning issues directions to planning authorities about the preparation of planning schemes and amendments to planning schemes. These help to ensure that planning schemes are prepared in a consistent and technically correct way.

The Minister can also, in certain circumstances, intervene on matters associated with planning and heritage processes, for example amending a planning scheme.

These powers are provided for under the Planning and Environment Act 1987, the Heritage Act 1995 and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998.

More information on The role of the Minister...

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