Archive:  Smart Planning

Last Updated  31/10/17  Updated 27/11/17



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Intensive Animal Industries - pig, poultry and broiler farms in Rural Conservation and Rural Living Zones

Smart Planning: Victoria Planning Provisions



UPDATE Urgent Action Required  State Government's "Smart Planning" Project Lurches Into Its Next Step In "Simplifying" Victoria's Planning System -  This Is A Comprehensive Dismantling Of The Planning System And Planning Schemes As We Know Them, With Further Changes To Come.   Time for Submissions Extended To FRIDAY 1 DECEMBER

(27/11/17 - P)  These and other State government changes this year make it impossible to protect Macedon Ranges, as the government promised   Red Alerts

See original MRRA article on this issue   List of Smart Planning VPP changes


About Smart Planning - Reforming the Victoria Planning Provisions


The objective is deregulation of the planning system - removing impediments to what development interests want, and allowing development on developers’ terms - to the point that planning is no longer about planning per se, but merely development.  It will result in a planning scheme increasingly controlled by State government, comprised primarily of State policy and State provisions that State government can change at will, without consultation – one planning scheme for Victoria.


Despite making major changes that remove permit requirements, prohibitions, residents’ rights, development standards transparency, and accountability, appalling standards of public consultation – if any – are being applied to roll out the Smart Planning program.  Because “Reforming the Victoria Planning Provisions” is seen as an exercise in simplifying the planning system for “users" of the system, decisions are being made for all of Victoria by a State government-appointed advisory group of special interests, primarily representing the development industry:

Community groups, the public, and environmental and social issues have been shut out.


Previous attempts at major change to the Victoria Planning Provisions were made  in 2013/14 by the Napthine government, and in 2009/10 by the Brumby government.  Both times, exhibited documents showed proposed changes to the State and Local Planning Policy Frameworks and both times they fell over (so too, coincidentally, did those governments at the following State election).  Changes now proposed go much further.


This current Smart Planning process avoids the pitfalls associated with exhibiting what is proposed, and the public scrutiny and objection that comes with it, by merely describing possible changes.  The public is left not having seen or knowing what these latest changes are or will look like,  because after submissions close next Friday, and the government’s special interest advisory group makes final changes which then go straight into planning schemes.  Comments on Smart Planning by Professor Michael Buxton shed light on why this is happening:


“a Smart Planning presentation to industry organised by the Planning Institute on 31 October, proposed the following reasons for the exclusion of the public from consultation:

The State Government Is Breaking Its Promise To Protect Macedon Ranges


In 2014, the State government promised to protect Macedon Ranges "for good", saying "Labor's plan for the Macedon Ranges will provide the highest level of protection possible against inappropriate development..."   On February 14, 2017, the Minister for Planning announced he had accepted all of the Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee’s recommendations, including to provide legislative protection and a Localised Planning Statement as State policy. 


But since March, 2017, the State government has progressively made and proposed planning scheme changes that remove or weaken planning controls across the State, leaving Macedon Ranges worse off and far more vulnerable than it was when the State government promised protection in 2014. 

In the rush to remove existing planning controls and residents' rights and change policy in order to please development and economic development interests, someone isn't thinking about why these controls and rights are there in the first place.  Allowing use and development without permits and removing prohibitions and residents' rights means there is no way of ensuring use and development is compatible with Macedon Ranges’ values, and protecting those values.  The proposal to move peri-urban areas from "Regional Victoria" to "Urban Growth" in State policy is alarming, and there is also a very real danger that the ‘cleaning out’ of ‘old’ local policies will see another attempt to remove Statement of Planning Policy No. 8 from Macedon Ranges' planning scheme. 


These changes weaken and remove planning controls that were already recognised as not strong enough when in 2014 the State government promised to protect Macedon Ranges "with the highest level of protections possible".   The opposite is happening.  Macedon Ranges needs more, not less, than we had in 2014.  A Localised Planning Statement can't protect Macedon Ranges because the government's changes are taking away the controls and policy needed to implement it, creating a planning system where it is impossible to protect Macedon Ranges.  The State government is not only breaking its promise to protect, it's leaving Macedon Ranges worse off than when it made that promise.


How To Make A Submission

The time for submissions has been extended to FRIDAY 1 DECEMBER.   


The Smart Planning website wants you to answer its questions with simplistic yes, no, etc. responses.  It is strongly recommended you do not make a submission this way but put your thoughts in your own words.   You don't have to respond to each issue, you may prefer to address the principles of what is being proposed.   Long or short, please make a submission.


MRRA has prepared a summary of key changes. The Association does not support these changes, not least because they are being driven by the development industry, they are not transparent, there has been no meaningful justification or consultation, and these changes sign Macedon Ranges' death warrant in terms of protecting its values.



Email address:

Subject:   Attention Smart Planning Team: Submission on Reforming the Victoria Planning Provisions  (including this is critical)



Go directly to the bottom of the page where you can upload a PDF document.



CURRENT  Action Required  State Government's "Smart Planning" Project Lurches Into Its Next Step In "Simplifying" Victoria's Planning System

(31/10/17 - P)  When it's full of weasel words like 'streamline', 'review', 'simplify', 'rationalise', 'lower risk applications' and 'modern planning scheme', and it's talking about reducing permit and performance requirements - WATCH OUT!   This step - review of the Victoria Planning Provisions (planning schemes) to make development approvals easier - is out for comment now.  Submissions close 24 November  now extended to FRIDAY 1 DECEMBER   Red Alerts


The State government is persisting with its quest for what it calls "Smart Planning", the name being given to some of the most shocking changes to planning in Victoria since Jeff Kennett's introduction of the Victoria Planning Provisions in the early 1990s.  


This latest, "Reforming the Victoria Planning Provisions", is about major changes to all Victorian planning schemes, reprising a 'consolidated' Planning Policy Framework put forward by the previous Liberal government, where State, Regional and Local policies for a planning theme are located together and - surprise, surprise - local policy is to be 'thinned' to avoid having too much.  Changes are extensive and not just to content, including:

 So far this process seems to be more about making changes to wind back 'red tape' that was supposed to already have been wound back, and to please people who use the planning scheme the most - mainly council officers, and developers - rather than getting responsible and fairer planning outcomes all round (forget the environment).  It aims to be the minimum 'rules' required to adequately address planning risks, and that's not enough in Macedon Ranges.


There's a Discussion Paper.  To make or upload a submission:  




MRRA Says: 

Ah... who can ever forget Mr. Kennett's Rural Zone - a zone where only three things were prohibited, and one of those was a brothel.  This "Smart Planning" thing is turning out to be right up on that level.  And just as introduction of the Victoria Planning Provisions screwed over Macedon Ranges (a fact we have been trying to recover from ever since), so too do these changes.  Whoever thinks it's OK to remove permit requirements for houses in Significant Landscape and Environmental overlays in rural zones has distinctly lost the plot, never had it in the first place, or lives in Melbourne.


The Green Wedges are losing their "Green Wedge" particular provision (Clause 57), which doesn't bode well for Macedon Ranges where the Macedon Ranges Protection Advisory Committee recommended we have one of our own.  If the Green Wedges can lose theirs, what hope does Macedon Ranges have?


Here in the 'to be protected' Macedon Ranges, we've already had grossly expanded VicSmart forced on us (VC135 and VC137), where a CEO alone can make decisions within 10 business days for planning permit applications worth up to $1 million, and councillors' rights to make a decision, and your rights to even know about it, are removed.  The icing with VicSmart is that decisions by a CEO don't have to comply with the planning scheme, either, particularly Localised Planning Statements and policy in rural zones (including applications for houses).  Nice work if you can get it!  Nothing to do with planning - or protection - but everything to do with development.  Some serious issues with transparency and accountability are in there as well. 


Then there was the State-wide increase in allowable building heights in residential zones (VC110).  In Macedon Ranges, that made it OK to apply for 11 metres and 3 storeys in most towns.  Macedon Ranges Council has asked the Minister for Planning, who introduced expanded VicSmart, to provide Macedon Ranges with an interim protection retaining maximum residential heights at the previous 9m and two storeys (no news on that yet).


Add to that the planning disaster that is the intensive animal industries review, where the push is on to remove prohibitions on intensive animal production to allow pig and poultry farms, supplementary feeding and any other form of intensive animal husbandry/production in Rural Conservation, Rural Living and Industrial Zones (they cannot be serious!).  Submissions close 14 November.


Now there's this - the Victoria Planning Provisions.  Believe us, if it's being "simplified" and "streamlined", it ain't going to be better for Macedon Ranges.  Getting rid of permit requirements and diving into tick-box type assessments just means more Rafferty's Rules and rubbish development that kills what's special about this place.  And if that's not enough, limiting permit approvals to only staff making decisions, and extinguishing the community's rights to know, object and go to VCAT, ain't transparency either.  All of that's just promoting development and development interests over sound planning and democratic principles. With all of this, you have to start to wonder, why bother pretending to have a planning scheme at all - just call it a development scheme, and be done with it.   Make a submission by 24 November, and whatever else you say, ask them how any of this spells P-R-O-T-E-C-T-I-O-N for Macedon Ranges. 



CURRENT Urgent Action Required  State Government Is Removing Existing Prohibitions On Pig, Poultry And Broiler Farms In Rural Conservation, Rural Living and Industrial Zones

(31/10/17 - P)  Worse, these uses won't even need a permit in the Farming Zone, and grazing is replaced with intensive 'supplementary feeding'.  Thinking of moving to regional Victoria?  Don't bother unless you can live with industrial animal production next door... Submissions close November 14   Intensive Animal Industries File  Smart Planning File 


The State government is proposing changes across rural Victoria to make intensive animal industries "sustainable", saying "the proposed planning reforms will better support animal industries across the state" .  These dramatic and far-reaching changes certainly leave no part of the State unscathed.  But rather than "sustainable", these changes just make more intensive and more animal production in more places. 


Existing long-standing prohibitions on intensive animal husbandry are being removed in the Rural Conservation Zone (Victoria's only conservation zone), and the Rural Living Zone (which has a default minimum lot size of 2ha), with prohibitions only to remain for cattle feedlots and intensive dairy farms.  Everything else - pigs, poultry, goats, deer - in fact production of any bird or any mammal (except rodents!) and their resultant animal products, will no longer be prohibited.  Prohibitions are also removed from intensive supplementary feeding operations in these sensitive zones (shades of Wagyu beef?).   And all of this without restrictions on size, number or type of animals, environmental and conservation sensitivity, setbacks - or location in drinking water catchments.


Same thing is happening in Industrial zones, regardless of whether they are next to or inside towns, except they get cattle feedlots as well.


In the Farming Zone, up to 200 chooks and 10 emus, and either 10 pigs or 3 sows, a boar AND their progeny (22 pigs allowing 6 piglets per sow), are OK without a permit if they are 50m away from the house next door, or a residential zone.  Gets worse - your rights to know, object and go to VCAT are taken away for applications for up to 450 chooks, 25 emus/ostriches, and 8 sows, a boar and their progeny (57 pigs) - if they are 100m away from the house next door or a residential zone.  Associated structures are free to blight the landscape because they don't necessarily need a permit either.


Grazing isn't what it used to be - it's proposed to become supplementary feeding with grazing on the side, no permit required in the Farming Zone (any number) if feeding structures are 100m from your house or a residential zone (but can be closer with a permit).  In the Rural Conservation, Rural Living and Industrial Zones, requires a permit (any number) but with no conditions, restrictions, setbacks.


Proposed changes to zones, and land use definitions, are currently on exhibition, along with three new Particular Provisions for Pig Farm, Poultry Farm and Grazing Animal Production.   Submissions close NOVEMBER 14.


Here's a link to make or upload a submission.

Here's a link to the "Sustainable Animal Industries" website.


MRRA Says: 


This is "sustainable"?  What are they thinking...

Pfft!  There goes the neighbourhood, and residential amenity, and the environment, and drinking water catchments, and State level landscape and biodiversity significance - and with more blurring of what zones mean, proper planning:  WRONG WAY, GO BACK!


Seems nowhere is safe from this industrial animal production mania - anyone for a spot of pig, poultry, goat or deer production on Mount Macedon?  Upstream of Lauriston Reservoir?  In the 1ha and 2ha Rural Living Zones recently approved in Amendment C110 around Gisborne?  On Mount Aitken?  In the Industrial 3 zones in Woodend and Romsey?  Out in the forest at Bullengarook?


These changes are blunt instruments that crush environmental credibility.  Why make these changes at all?  No restrictions in forested areas?  No restrictions in open drinking water catchments?  Unbelievable. No restrictions on setbacks or scale either, so pick a number.  And now that so many houses have been approved in Macedon Ranges' rural zones - and particularly the Farming Zone - what an attractive, healthy, safe living environment all this will make - not.  Try rural NSW or South Australia instead.


The Rural Conservation Zone is applied to Victoria's most environmentally valuable and vulnerable areas.  Rural Living Zones are usually where people want to live "the dream".  Think about it... think about it  - maybe that's why all forms of Intensive Animal Husbandry are (and always have been) prohibited in these zones.  Until now.  Hello pig, poultry and broiler farms (up to 400,000 birds), supplementary feeding, and pretty much any other intensive animal use except cattle feedlots and intensive dairy farms.  No restrictions in these zones - do what you like. 


Changes being made to definitions narrow what's "intensive" to just a few things, and then intensify what's left.  The current definition of grazing, 'Extensive Animal Husbandry' is about grazing - where farm animals get most of their food by grazing.  That's gone, replaced with 'Grazing Animal Production' where grazing is secondary to seasonal (6 months of the year), and routine, supplementary feeding.  Intensive.  That's why, unlike grazing, it's proposed to be prohibited in residential and commercial zones. 


This package of changes is pocked-marked with errors that make understanding what's being proposed more difficult.  Hey Houston, we have a problem:  the proposed zones say Pig Farms have to comply with Poultry Farm provisions, and Poultry Farms have to comply with Pig Farm conditions.  Even though current definitions, 'Extensive animal husbandry' and 'Intensive animal husbandry' are being deleted from the planning scheme - woooo - somehow they are still there in the Farming, Green Wedge, Rural Activity and Industrial 1 zones.  And in a 'take the cake' effort, in the Industrial 1 zone, intensive animal uses are both prohibited - and permit required - at the same time.  If anyone can work out what's going on in the Green Wedge Zone - what's in, what's out - give them a prize.  As for the new Particular Provisions for Pig and Poultry Farms, and Grazing Animal Production, only some segments of them are referenced in the zones as conditions to be met (mainly how to get a pig farm or poultry farm without a permit in the Farming Zone).  The new Particular Provision for Grazing Animal Production isn't referenced in the zones at all, so its requirements aren't  conditions to be met in any zone.  To be honest, it's a bit of a lottery trying to work out if, what, where and when any of these new particular provision controls might apply, and there's not much point having them, such as they are, unless they are actually used.


The big question for Macedon Ranges is, of course - how is this protecting Macedon Ranges?  Add this lot of changes to other recent State government changes, like VicSmart where a CEO can approve a house in a rural zone within 10 days, without anyone else knowing about it (including you and councillors) or meeting any planning scheme policy requirements, and lifting dwelling heights to 11 metres and 3 storeys in the General Residential Zone, and now, changes to the Victoria Planning Provisions - well, this isn't what we think of as protecting this place.  How about you?


ACTION REQUIRED:  Please make a short submission by November 14th (use the submissions link above).  Here's an overview of the changes

The government's thinking is these changes strike 'the right balance'.  Tell them they don't.  These changes don't respect, let alone protect, Macedon Ranges' environment, landscape and water catchments, residential amenity, or high quality agricultural soils, and they don't respect residents either because they are extinguishing residents' rights.  Tell the State government this is not protecting Macedon Ranges, and it's not on.  Make sure you let Macedon Ranges' councillors, Mary-Anne Thomas (MP for Macedon) and Richard Wynne (Minister for Planning) know your views.   .



State Government's "Smart Planning":  First It Was The Horror Expansion of VicSmart, And Now It's The Shrinking Of The Victoria Planning Provisions.  A Survey, Such As It Is, closes 10 July

(9/7/17 - P)  So far it has been an exercise in removing residents' rights and "simplifying" development into lower standards, accountability and transparency.  This isn't on anywhere in Victoria, and we can't see how this "protects" Macedon Ranges at all  


There's a survey about “Smart Planning”, which is what the State government calls the dramatic changes it is making/proposing to all aspects of planning in Victoria.  Sorry for the short notice, but even if you don't get around to the survey, this is something YOU need to know about. 


First, in March 2017, it was expanding “VicSmart”, so that it allows a Council's CEO (including Macedon Ranges’ CEO) to approve planning applications up to $1 million in value, within 10 business days, without having to involve councillors or consult community, or give notice to affected residents, or comply with State and local planning policies (including the Localised Planning Statement proposed to protect Macedon Ranges).   The State government did not consult the community about these changes, only some targeted councils and industry groups.  Here's MRRA's VicSmart overview, which was circulated to all Macedon Ranges councillors.  It confirms VicSmart is completely out of alignment with transparency, accountability, and democratic government - and protecting Macedon Ranges Shire.   There's no point having a Localised Planning Statement if it's prohibited from being used in decision-making.  Major changes are also made to rural zones, which has strong ramifications for sensitive and Green Wedge areas alike.


Now the government is changing the "Victoria Planning Provisions (VPP)".  These are the provisions, zones and overlays that make up a planning scheme.  So far mostly “industry” people have had a say, which has resulted in a focus on “streamlining” permit requirements or removing them.  Which suggests these changes aren’t being proposed to improve the VPPs and planning practices and outcomes per se, but to improve them for development interests.


Please have a look at the survey.  Most of the questions are about whether existing controls and provisions should be unwound and relaxed. This isn’t about getting better planning controls, it’s about reducing existing standards (which aren’t that high anyway).


The survey should only take a few minutes.  Really important to let the government know Victoria consists of more than planners and developers – community counts too.  The survey closes at close of business Monday, 10 July.  


MRRA Says:


Definitely not happy, Jan. 


Overall this is about squeezing more people in, faster, and removing the obstruction of people who might object.  What doesn't seem to be understood is most in the community think planning in Victoria isn't strong enough now to provide the certainty and outcomes the community wants.  All of these changes seem aimed at going in the opposite direction. 


The questions for Macedon Ranges’ residents are, how does VicSmart, and removing permit requirements and making changes to fast-track development, fit with protecting Macedon Ranges?    How does it allow residents to have a say on what happens next door, or to places and things they value?  Remember, if a permit isn’t required, it saves applicants time and money but you aren’t notified and you can’t object.


In addition, as with most planning changes a (any) State government makes, the changes will inevitably relate to what’s happening or what’s wanted in Melbourne, with little thought given to how changes will - or won’t - work outside Melbourne, in places like Macedon Ranges.


We raised our very strong concerns with VicSmart with local MP Mary-Anne Thomas some time ago.  You might want to ask how all this is in alignment with protecting Macedon Ranges.