Planning Minister cuts the red tape for venues seeking to serve in outdoor spaces.

On 21 October 2020, the Victorian Government made an announcement which will benefit the hospitality sector after being hit by COVID-19 and ensuring the sector can make a smooth transition to outdoor dining by streamlining planning approvals.

Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, announced yesterday that existing pubs, restaurants, cafes and other food and drink venues can use existing outdoor spaces, as well as nearby parks and public land to accommodate and serve patrons without the need for a planning permit.

The exemptions being made under planning amendment VC139 will allow venues to capitalise on open spaces including streets, footpaths and carparks to add to venue capacity while restrictions reduce the number of patrons allowed for indoor dining. Businesses covered by the exemptions include restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, function and reception centres and wineries.

What the amendment does?

The amendment amends clause 52.18 (State of emergency exemption) of Victoria Planning Provisions and all planning schemes to support Victoria’s social and economic recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic through temporary planning scheme and permit condition exemptions that enable outdoor dining and facilitate the reopening and safe operation of restaurants and other food and drink businesses.

The exemptions will operate when a state of emergency declaration under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 in relation to coronavirus is in force and for 12 months after.

The new planning exemptions will support the hospitality industry by enabling businesses to better plan and use their own land and expand onto adjoining land to accommodate more patrons while the number of patrons is determined by social distancing guidelines.

The new provisions also provide exemptions from the need to obtain planning permits for construction of temporary buildings, the provision of car parking, and the sale and consumption of liquor – subject to conditions.

The amendment includes conditions that limit the hours during which outdoor dining in, or close to, residential zones can occur and require the use of land under the exemptions to not unreasonably affect the amenity of the neighbourhood through noise and other emissions.

Conditions also apply for construction of temporary buildings, limiting the exemptions to temporary and moveable buildings which must be removed from the land before the end of the exemption period and including conditions that limit the height of buildings and require buildings to be set back from adjacent land in a residential zone ensuring the normal planning scheme requirements continue to apply to existing buildings in the Heritage Overlay.

The exemptions apply to permits issued before the approval date of the amendment only, giving businesses more flexibility about how they use their own land in order to comply with public health guidelines. The exemptions will apply while Victoria remains under a State of Emergency, and for 12 months after the State of Emergency has been lifted. Liquor licence, public health matters and public land manager requirements may still need to be met along with council administered local laws.

The full amendment can be view here

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