• VCAT

August 1, 2020

Minister for Planning introduces a fast track approval for second dwellings

Today the Minister for Planning introduced a new particular provision, Clause 51.06 Secondary Dwellings, to the Planning Schemes of the Greater Bendigo, Kingston, Moreland and Murrindindi by exercising the Minister’s power of intervention. The Amendment is in response to Victorian Government’s Smart Planning program and Plan Melbourne 2017-2050.

Unlike the standard procedure where an amendment of planning scheme will go through Exhibition stage and Panel Hearing stage. The new clause was introduced directly by exempting the Amendment VC186 from the notice requirements meaning owners and occupiers of land, public authorities and councils that may be materially affected by the amendment did not receive formal notice of the proposed Amendment and were not be able to make submissions in relation to the Amendment and have them referred to a Panel.

It is understood that although The Minister exercised the power of intervention, The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning consulted with the City of Greater Bendigo, City of Kingston, City of Moreland, Shire of Murrindindi, the Smart Planning Advisory Group, Smart Planning Technical Reference Groups and a State Government Working Group in relation to this amendment. It is also concluded that Exhibition of the amendment is unlikely to change the outcome of the amendment and immediate implementation ensures that increased effectiveness and efficiency in the operation of the planning system is introduced promptly. 

Why is the Amendment required?

The amendment is in response to the 2017 Smart Planning discussion paper, Reforming the Victoria Planning Provisions, which proposed the introduction of new code-based assessment provisions for simple proposals in order to support small business, industry and homeowners. The reform also aims to simplify and modernise Victoria’s planning policy and rules to make planning more efficient, accessible and transparent.

The amendment aims to reduce the regulatory and administrative burden for both applicants and council planning departments, by streamlining the approvals process through the application of code requirements and use of VicSmart. A simplified process will also support the construction and manufacturing industry with positive economic benefits to employment.

The amendment is also in response to Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 which seeks to provide Melbourne with alternative forms of housing, such as secondary dwellings, that can offer opportunity for small-scale development in established areas.

The code aims to facilitate the construction of small dwellings to provide housing options for an ageing population, multigenerational families and lower income households.

How is the Amendment implemented?

The code for Secondary Dwellings will allow the development of a secondary dwelling that meets a range of development standards to be considered through the VicSmart assessment pathway. A pathway that will see decision made within 10 days.

The amendment introduces a code for Secondary Dwellings to facilitate the development of one additional small dwelling on the same lot as an existing dwelling in appropriate residential zones:

  • Mixed Use Zone of the Greater Bendigo, Kingston, Moreland and Murrindindi Planning Schemes.
  • Township Zone of the Greater Bendigo and Murrindindi Planning Schemes.
  • Residential Growth Zone of the Greater Bendigo, Kingston and Moreland Planning Schemes.
  • General Residential Zone of the Greater Bendigo, Kingston, Moreland and Murrindindi Planning Schemes.
  • Neighbourhood Residential Zone of the Kingston and Moreland Planning Schemes. 

What is the purpose of this Amendment?

Unlike the Moreland City Council’s Amendment C190 which seeks to allow specifically designed single and dual occupancy residential applications to be processed via the VicSmart fast track process, this amendment introduced by the Minister is much more targeted and strict in terms of what can or cannot be done.

To read more about Moreland City Council’s Amendment C190, Click Here

The purpose of this amendment is to encourage the development of one additional small dwelling on the same lot as an existing dwelling in specified residential areas. The amendment is only introduced to the City of Greater Bendigo, City of Kingston, City of Moreland and Shire of Murrindindi at the moment through the Secondary Dwellings Pilot Program.

A permit can only be granted under this clause if the below are met:

  • Must be located on the same lot as an existing dwelling.
  • Must be the only dwelling on the lot approved under this clause.
  • Must not exceed a gross floor area of 60 square metres.
  • Must not exceed a building height of 5 metres.
  • Must not contain more than one storey at any point. A basement is not a storey for the purposes of calculating the number of storeys under this clause.
  • Where provided, any garden area requirement in the zone must be met.
  • Must not be located on a lot that contains a dependent person’s unit.
  • There must be no more than two dwellings on the lot as a result of the development.
  • The number of car parking spaces on the land associated with the existing dwelling must not be reduced below the applicable requirement as a result of the development.

Other than the above restrictions, the new clause introduced by the amendment also places clear restrictions around subdivision of a lot and a permit will not be granted to subdivide into a new lot that land that contains only a dwelling that has been constructed under a permit granted under this clause. The below condition will be included in all the permits granted under this new clause:

“Before the development starts, the owner must enter into an agreement with the responsible authority under section 173 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to provide for the following:

The dwelling constructed under this permit must remain on the same lot as the existing dwelling.

Subdivision of the land that would result in the dwelling constructed under this permit no longer remaining on the same lot as an existing dwelling is prohibited.

The ending of the agreement if the dwelling is removed from the land or a permit is granted for the construction of the dwelling under another provision of the planning scheme.

The land owner must pay the reasonable costs of the preparation, execution and registration of the Section 173 Agreement.”

With these restrictions placed around the clause, the Minister aims to encourage developments of smaller dwellings within established areas for the purpose of providing housing options for an ageing population, multigenerational families and lower income households. Unlike developments approved via the normal route, the new dwellings created will not be able to be transacted because there will be no new title of land created. However, the opportunity is that the new dwelling created under this clause will be able to be legally rented out on the open market and create additional income for the land owner.

Other Requirements of the Clause

Although if an application is made under the new second dwelling clause, the provisions of ResCode (Clause 55) do not apply unless specified otherwise and is exempt from the car parking requirements at Clause 52.06-1, there are multiple requirements the new dwellings must be met in addition to the conditions mentioned above in order to apply via VicSmart:

  • The dwelling is not located on a lot boundary or closer to a street (other than a rear lane) than the existing dwelling.
  • The numerical requirements in the following standards of ResCode (Clause 55):
    • B8 Site coverage.
    • B9 Permeability and stormwater management.
    • B17 Side and rear setbacks.
    • B19 Daylight to existing windows.
    • B20 North-facing windows.
    • B21 Overshadowing open space.
    • B22 Overlooking.
    • B27 Daylight to new windows.
    • B29 Solar access to open space.

What does the new clause mean for land owners?

The amendment made by the Minister has a clear goal, and that is to create new housing options for an ageing population, multigenerational families and lower income household while limiting the growth in housing prices. If you are thinking of unlocking the potential of your property via subdivision and development, this may not be the best option for you. However, if your goal is to create additional rental income and cashflow, this amendment will allow you to do so in a much simpler and time efficient method with high certainty of approval if the new dwelling is designed according to the requirements.