Changing the planning scheme

Councils may amend planning schemes to achieve a desirable planning outcome or to support a new policy direction. For example, if a council wanted to protect the character of a residential area that demonstrated heritage significance it would amend the scheme to introduce a Heritage Overlay to the area.

Amendments to the scheme have significant planning implications and affect the wider community because they change the way land can be used or developed, and change the basis for making planning decisions in the future.

This section provides information about amendments to planning schemes. It contains links to information about amendments, the amendment process and where you can view amendment documentation.

What is a planning scheme amendment?

Sometimes a planning scheme may need to be changed to reflect new circumstances or achieve new objectives. Changes to the scheme are known as amendments and the process for an amendment is set out in the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (the Act). An amendment may involve a change to a planning scheme map (such as a rezoning), a change to the written part of the scheme, or both.

Who can prepare or amend a planning scheme?

An amendment may be prepared by any planning authority as specified by the Act. A planning authority is any minister or agency that has been authorised by the Minister for Planning to prepare amendments. In most cases, the initiating planning authority would be a local council, but it may be another minister. Sections 8, 8A, 8B and 9 of the Act set out who is authorised as a planning authority to prepare an amendment.

Anyone can ask a planning authority to prepare an amendment. If you do, you must be able to demonstrate to the planning authority (usually the council) adequate justification as to why an amendment should be prepared. Council will have to be certain that the amendment has planning merit and is consistent with the future strategic directions for the municipality. The department's Planning Practice Note 46 – Strategic Assessment Guidelines for Planning Scheme Amendments sets out the matters that council should consider before amending its planning scheme.

There is wide scope for scheme amendments, which may consist of a small change to one provision, or major changes or a substitution. Steps for preparing an amendment are set out in detail in the Act.

More about preparing an amendment

The amendment process

Before an amendment can be prepared it must be authorised by the Minister for Planning. 

An amendment to the scheme involves consultation with all the parties who may have an interest in the amendment, or may be affected by it. Usually, an amendment is placed on public exhibition for at least one month.

If there are submissions which cannot be resolved by the planning authority, the Minister for Planning will appoint an independent panel to consider submissions if the proposed amendment is to proceed. When it receives the report from the panel, the planning authority must either adopt the amendment, abandon the amendment or adopt the amendment with changes.

An amendment becomes part of the planning scheme when it is approved by the Minister and notice is given in the Victoria Government Gazette. In instances where both a permit and an amendment are required, the Act makes provision for a combined permit and amendment process.

More about the steps in the process

Amendments to the Victoria Planning Provisions

An amendment to the Victoria Planning Provisions (VPP) will also amend specified planning schemes which include those provisions. When the VPP amendment is approved, the schemes are amended at the same time.

Viewing and obtaining amendments

Planning schemes, amendments to planning schemes and the VPP may be inspected free of charge at the relevant Victorian local government offices, and online. The Documents on Exhibition page lists amendments currently on exhibition, recently approved amendments and the department's contact details.

Details of VPP and individual planning scheme amendment proposals and their current status can be viewed at Planning Scheme Amendments Online.

Notice of public exhibition of amendments and approved amendments is published in the regular Victoria Government Gazette every Thursday, although special gazettes may be published on other days if necessary.

Ministerial intervention in planning scheme amendments

In certain circumstances the Minister for Planning has the power to intervene on matters associated with planning scheme amendments.

View the amendments where the Minister has intervened

Templates and services for preparing amendments

Print updated planning scheme and VPP pages

If you need to print the amended pages of a planning scheme or the VPP, follow these instructions.

Replacement page instruction sheets are available for every amendment to a planning scheme ordinance gazetted since 21 August 2006. They will help you identify which amended planning scheme pages need to be printed if you wish to update a hard copy of your planning scheme or the Victoria Planning Provisions.

The replacement page instruction sheets can be located in Planning Scheme Amendments Online.

  1. Select the municipality using the alphabetical display.
  2. Select the amendment.
  3. Select the tab named 'Approved Documentation'.
  4. The replacement page instruction sheet can be found under the header 'Replace a page instruction sheet'.
  5. Print this sheet.

Go to Planning Schemes Online and print the updated pages using the replacement page instruction sheet as a guide.

Page last reviewed on 13 March 2015

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