Sweeping reforms to Victoria's residential, commercial, industrial and rural planning zones have been released by the Victorian Coalition Government.
Key features of the proposed zoning reforms include:
- The introduction of a new Neighbourhood Residential Zone;
- A new General Residential Zone and Residential Growth Zone;
- Improvements to the existing Mixed Use Zone, Comprehensive Development Zone and Activity Centre Zone;
- New and more flexible Commercial 1 and Commercial 2 Zones to replace five existing Business zones;
- Zone reform to support tourism activities in Farming Zone, the Rural Conservation Zone and the Green Wedge Zones; and
- Significant reforms to rural zones to promote the growth of agricultural activity.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy said the package of reforms will provide greater certainty in Victoria's planning system and fulfil the Coalition Government's election commitment to reform Victoria's planning zones.
"The Coalition Government is committed to planning zone reform to improve productivity and jobs in our commercial and industrial sectors while providing greater certainty in our residential areas," Mr Guy said.
"The proposed Neighbourhood Residential Zone will restrict housing growth in areas identified for preservation of the existing urban amenity, and fulfils a key election commitment to protect neighbourhoods from inappropriate development.
"In addition, the new General Residential Zone and Residential Growth Zone will enable Council's to work with the local communities to determine the most appropriate locations for built form change to occur."
Commercial zones will also be reformed by the Coalition Government cutting red-tape and providing more flexibility for the business community.
"The Coalition Government proposes to create two new commercial zones to replace the five existing business zones currently hampering productivity in the business sector," Mr Guy said.
The Commercial Zone 1 replaces the existing Business 1, 2 and 5 Zones to create vibrant mixed use commercial centres for retail, office business and high density residential.
The Commercial Zone 2 will replace the existing Business 3 and 4 Zones with the purpose of developing areas for appropriate office and industrial uses that do not impact on the safety and amenity of adjoining areas.
The reforms to residential and commercial zones are also complemented by reforms to rural zones.
"Proposed reforms to rural zones will promote the growth of agricultural activity and give Council's much-needed flexibility to adapt planning requirements to local circumstances," Mr Guy said.
"Our agricultural sector has been hampered by our current planning system for too long. Rural communities have also been hindered from growing due to an inflexible planning regime put in place by the previous Labor Government.
"The Coalition Government's proposed reforms will make it much easier for farmers to operate and to attract and retain people living and working in our regional areas," Mr Guy said.
These reforms will also promote agriculture in Melbourne's Green Wedge Areas by removing the onerous requirement for a planning permit.
"Green Wedges are not stagnant zones, their intention is to be a working agricultural buffer for niche industries; these reforms will provide a much greater ability for the intention of the zone to be fully realised," Mr Guy said.
The release of the zone reform package follows extensive discussions with major stakeholder groups including the Municipal Association of Victoria, the Victorian Farmers Federation and Rural Councils Victoria.
The Coalition Government's planning reform agenda has planned for new outer urban growth as well as identified Australia's largest inner city, urban renewal project in Fisherman's Bend.
These projects, combined with planning law changes and planning zone reform represent a major overhaul of the Victorian planning system since the change of government in November 2010.
"The time is right for planning reform and the Coalition Government is getting on with the job of delivering it."
Stakeholders will have a two month period until Friday 21 September to provide feedback on any impacts of the recommended changes. Final reforms will then be introduced into Victoria's planning system in October 2012.