Planning Minister Matthew Guy yesterday announced significant reforms to Victoria’s planning zones.  The changes, which include the deletion of nine existing zones and the addition of five new zones (see table below), are intended to provide greater certainty for industry, councils and the community through the identification of areas for growth and areas for minimal change.

While details of the reformed zones will not be available until next week, yesterday’s announcement indicates that the existing Residential 1, 2 and 3 zones will be replaced with the Residential Growth zone, the General Residential zone and the Neighbourhood Residential zone.  The Residential Growth zone, as the name suggests, designates areas for high density residential growth and can be used by councils to channel growth into identified areas.  On the other hand, the Neighbourhood Residential zone is intended to protect the amenity and streetscape of established suburbs through more stringent regulations around height, subdivision and minimum lot size.  The transition zone between these two is the General Residential zone, in which a modest amount of growth and development will be permitted.

Interestingly, the Minister’s media release stated that the Residential Growth zone and General Residential zone were intended to be complementary to and “support the integrity of” the Neighbourhood Residential zone.  It seems obvious from this statement that the priority for the Minister is to protect existing areas, rather than promote growth.

The five existing Business Zones are proposed to be consolidated into the new Commercial 1 and Commercial 2 zones.  Commercial 1 zoning, which replaces the existing Business 1, 2 and 5 zones, will include a broader range of as-of-right uses (including some accommodation) and removes floor area restrictions.  The Commercial 2 zone will also remove restrictions on floor space, and provide more opportunity for office, retail and commercial activity. This zone will replace the Business 3 and 4 zones.

All existing rural zones will be amended to allow greater flexibility for agriculture, tourism and other previously prohibited uses, including primary and secondary schools.  This follows from the findings of the Underwood Report which highlighted a lack of discretion and flexibility in the application of rural zones.  The zoning amendments are intended to facilitate business and attract and retain population in rural Victoria.

Minister Guy stressed that use of the new zones would be at the discretion of local councils and decisions about which zone belongs where would ultimately rest with the community.

The reforms are part of a major overhaul of the Victorian planning system being undertaken by the Government. Comments on the proposal will be sought from 17 July to 21 September 2012.

Residential 1 Zone Residential Growth Zone Low Density Residential Zone
Residential 2 Zone General Residential Zone Mixed Use Zone
Residential 3 Zone Neighbourhood Residential Zone Township Zone
Business 1 Zone Commercial 1 Zone Rural Living Zone
Business 2 Zone Commercial 2 Zone Green Wedge Zone
Business 3 Zone Green Wedge A Zone
Business 4 Zone Farming Zone
Business 5 Zone Rural Activity Zone
Priority Development Zone Industrial 1 Zone
Industrial 2 Zone
Industrial 3 Zone
Above: A summary of the proposed zoning reforms. Source: DPCD.


Enquiries Sophie Jordan sbj@colliepl.com.au