Structure of a planning scheme

A planning scheme contains three main parts:

  1. maps – including symbols to identify the zones and overlays, and detailed zone and overlay information shown on separate maps
  2. written text – explaining what the zone and overlays mean and what planning policies and other provisions apply
  3. incorporated documents - documents which are referenced by the scheme, rather than physically included.

How is a planning scheme developed?

The common structure of planning schemes in Victoria is spelled out in the Ministerial Direction on the Form and Content of Planning Schemes and the Victoria Planning Provisions (VPP) is a document containing a comprehensive set of planning provisions for Victoria.

A planning scheme is constructed by taking the VPP as a basic template, inserting the local vision and policy framework (the MSS and local policies), selecting the zones and overlays needed to implement these, writing the appropriate local provisions to support the zones and overlays (the schedules) and discarding the zones and overlays which are not required in the scheme.

View the Ministerial Direction on the Form and Content of Planning Schemes

Find out more about the Victoria Planning Provisions

What are the components of a planning scheme?

A planning scheme must include each part of the Victoria Planning Provisions shown in this diagram in the same order. Each of these parts is described in more detail below.

State Planning Policy Framework

Every planning scheme includes the State Planning Policy Framework (SPPF). The SPPF comprises general principles for land use and development in Victoria.  To ensure integrated decision-making, planning authorities and responsible authorities must take account of the general principles and the specific policies contained in the SPPF.

Local Planning Policy Framework

The Local Planning Policy Framework (LPPF) sets a local and regional strategic policy context for a municipality. It comprises the Municipal Strategic Statement and specific local planning policies and operates consistently with the SPPF.

Municipal Strategic Statement

A Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS) is a concise statement of the key strategic planning, land use and development objectives for the municipality with related strategies and actions. The MSS:

  • provides a link to the council corporate plan and the planning framework.

  • provides the strategic basis for the local content of the planning scheme, such as local policies and the choice of zones and overlays

  • provides the strategic basis for decision-making by the responsible authority.

The MSS is dynamic and is reviewed periodically to ensure that it responds to the changing needs of the community.

The MSS is built upon as responsible authorities develop and refine their strategic directions in response to the changing needs of the community.

Local Planning Policy

A local planning policy is a policy of the planning scheme and is one of the tools available for implementing objectives and strategies in the MSS.

A local policy is a policy statement of intent or expectation. It states what the responsible authority will do in specified circumstances, or the responsible authority's expectation of what should happen. It gives a responsible authority an opportunity to state its view of a planning issue and its intentions for an area.  A local policy provides guidance to decision making on a day to day basis, which is not always achievable in the VPP zones and overlays alone. It can also help the community understand how a proposal will be considered and what will influence decision making.

Local policies must be taken into account when preparing amendments to the planning scheme or making decisions under the scheme. The responsible authority must decide whether the proposal will produce desirable outcomes.


All land in Victoria has a zone.  Zones specify particular purposes for land, such as business, industrial or residential.  They indicate which uses can be undertaken on land, as well as controls relating to buildings and subdivision.

Standard zones for statewide application are included in the VPP. These zones are used in all schemes as required. An important feature of the zones, which is reflected in the first purpose of each zone, is that they are to be administered to implement the SPPF and LPPF, including the MSS and Local policies.

Each planning scheme includes only those zones that are required to implement its strategy. There is no ability to vary the zones or to introduce local zones. Additional zones can only be introduced by an amendment to the Victoria Planning Provisions. Some of the zones have schedules to provide for local circumstances.


In addition to the requirements of the zone, further planning provisions may apply to a site or area through the application of an overlay. Generally, overlays apply to a single issue or related set of issues (such as heritage, environmental concern or flooding). Where more than one issue applies to land, multiple overlays can be used.

As with zones, standard overlays for statewide application are included in the VPP.  Each planning scheme includes only those overlays required to implement strategy.

Many overlays have schedules to specify local objectives and requirements.

Particular Provisions

Particular provisions are specific prerequisites or planning provisions for a range of particular uses and developments, such as advertising signs and car parking. They apply consistently across the state and there is no ability to include in planning schemes particular provisions which are not in the VPP. Unless specified otherwise, the particular provisions apply in addition to the requirements of a zone or overlay.

General Provisions

General provisions are operational requirements which are consistent across the state. They include matters such as existing use rights, administrative provisions, ancillary activities and referral of applications.


A set of consistent statewide definitions is included in the VPP and applies in all schemes. Defined terms are separated into General Terms, Outdoor Advertising Terms and Land Use Terms.

When writing planning scheme provisions care is taken to ensure that the terms used are consistent with their meaning in the Act or the Definition section of the scheme. Other terms have their ordinary meaning. A dictionary is commonly used to define these words.

Incorporated Documents

The Planning and Environment Act 1987 allows certain documents to be incorporated in a planning scheme by reference, rather than by physically including them in the scheme.

Find out more about incorporated documents

List of Amendments

This list includes all local amendments which have amended the scheme and all amendments to the Victoria Planning Provisions which included a consequential amendment to the scheme. A brief description of each amendment is provided.

Find out more about amendments to planning schemes

Page last reviewed on 3 November 2014

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