Planning and Environment Amendment (General) Bill 2012

Thursday, 14 February 2013

On Thursday last week the much anticipated Planning and Environment Amendment (General) Bill 2012 passed both Houses of Parliament. As yet, we have not been advised of the proposed date for assent.

The Amendments

The Bill includes an extensive list of amendments which aim to reduce paperwork, simplify key planning processes, remove impediments to quick decision making, and restore certainty to residents, Councils and businesses.

The main changes include:

  • Development Assessment Committees (DAC) out Planning Advisory Committees (PAC) in -– the role of Councils as the primary decision makers on planning matters is reaffirmed.
  • Referral Authorities – improvements to the process and accountability of referred applications and the introduction of two new classifications for referral authorities - Recommending and Determining.
  • Amending VCAT issued permits - –the scope of section 72 has been widened enabling Councils to amend VCAT issued permits unless there is an express prohibition on doing so by VCAT.
  • Extension of time for permits -– Councils have greater scope to extend permits however stricter time limits for applications to extend permits have been imposed.
  • Streamlining planning scheme amendments -– a response to an authorisation request must now be provided within 10 business days otherwise it will be a deemed authorisation.
  • A new section 20A process has been included to deal with straightforward minor changes to planning schemes.
  • Section 173 Agreements -– a new process for amending and ending agreements has been introduced.
  • New appeal rights to VCAT have been introduced for matters relating to the interpretation of section 173s.
  • Public Open Space –- Clarifies that Section 18 of the Subdivision Act 1988 does not apply if a requirement for Public Open Space is provided for in the Planning Scheme.
  • The consideration of the social and economic effects of a proposal is now mandatory.
  • Proceedings before the Tribunal – with the agreement of the parties, the scope of a review can be confined to the issues in dispute.

Issues to Consider

The introduction of these amendments gives rise to a number of questions including:

  • The classification of referral authorities (ie which referral authorities will be Recommending or Determining) and the role of Catchment Management Authorities and the CFA.
  • The impact of the new strict timings on permit extensions and the limitation of appeal rights.
  • The impact of the need for Council support in ending section 173 agreements and the absence of appeal rights where Council does not support the removal. \
  • What types of planning scheme amendments will be picked up in the new section 20A process.  


If you have any questions or would like more information on the Amendments and likely impacts please contact us.

Partner | Melbourne
P +61 3 8644 3421  
Partner | Melbourne                      
P +61 3 8644 3712
James Lofting
Senior Associate | Sydney
P +61 3 8644 3414
Indra Soysa
Senior Associate | Melbourne
P +61 3 8644 3711