Smart Planning is a major reform program to make Victoria’s planning system more efficient, accessible, open and collaborative.

The first two stages of the program were delivered over two years, commencing in July 2016. Funding has been received for a further three years.

The third stage began in July 2018 and is delivering further digital and planning rules improvements, with a focus on reforming local government planning.

The 2016-17 Victorian Budget allocated $25.5 million for delivery of the Smart Planning program, with a further $15 million provided in the 2018-19 budget for an additional three years of reform delivery.

Smart Planning is the first funded review and reform of Victoria’s planning system in more than 20 years.

Over that time, planning provisions and schemes have grown significantly. Planning regulation has become more complex, inaccessible and inefficient. It contains duplication, inconsistencies and redundancies.

Many planning-related tasks have become unnecessarily difficult and time-consuming, and use outdated methods that are not supported by modern technology.

Consequences of these growing issues have included:

  • lengthy approval times
  • inconsistencies in planning schemes and decision making
  • a system that is difficult to interpret and understand
  • barriers to public participation
  • higher compliance costs than necessary
  • less effective policy implementation.

Smart Planning is unlocking investment and creating jobs through an integrated and comprehensive package of reforms to modernise Victoria’s planning system.

To achieve this, the program is:

  • creating a more efficient system by reducing the size and complexity of planning regulations and delivering simpler planning rules that are more accessible for businesses and the community
  • delivering new digital initiatives to increase efficiency and provide better access to information and services.

Planning rules reforms:

A number of rules reforms have already been delivered, including:

  • Faster permit processing — the types of planning permits eligible for the VicSmart fast-track planning permit assessment process has been expanded.
  • Simpler rules — informed by extensive consultation and reviews, a reform package was delivered in January 2018 that focused on making planning rules and schemes easier to interpret, including removing old and redundant provisions and terminology, clarifying unclear provisions and modernising land use terms.
  • More accessible Victoria Planning Provisions (VPP) — a further reform package was delivered in July 2018 that made changes to the structure, function and operation of the VPP.
  • Modernised land use terms — land use terms in the VPP have been reviewed and updated.

Planning rules reforms in progress include:

  • A fully integrated Planning Policy Framework (PPF) — the Smart Planning team are working with local councils to translate the local policy in their planning schemes to the new integrated PPF.
  • Simpler planning schemes — inconsistencies, formatting and other errors are being cleaned up and corrected across the local schedules of all Victorian planning schemes.
  • Mapping the new Special Controls Overlay (SCO) — land affected by the incorporated documents contained at the schedule to Clause 51.01 (Specific Sites and Exclusions) of council planning schemes are being mapped and transferred to the new SCO.

Victorian Planning Portal: an online planning portal acts as a single point of entry for Victorian planning information and services. Planners and community members can easily find and access planning documents, view proposed amendments to planning schemes, and use the interactive VicPlan mapping tool.

Permits Online: an online platform for lodging, managing and tracking ministerial permit applications.

Amendment Tracking System (ATS): a new online Amendment Tracking System (ATS) to more efficiently manage local planning schemes in digital form.

VicPlan: an interactive mapping tool that provides location-based zone and overlay information and easy access to a range of planning and property information.

HTML planning schemes: planning schemes will be available in HTML in early 2020, which will significantly improve the usability of online planning schemes. PDF versions will still be accessible.

The program will create jobs and generate cost savings to industry by making the planning system more efficient, accessible and easier to use and understand. It will make Victoria more attractive for investment. Full implementation of the reforms is expected to generate more than 500 jobs and produce savings to industry of $35m per annum.

  • Local government
  • Industry
  • State government planners
  • Homeowners and business owners
  • Community and interest groups
  • Anyone who engages with the Victorian planning system or will in the future.

The program is engaging with local councils, industry and the community.

Contemporary online engagement tools and face-to-face discussions maximise opportunities for all stakeholders to be involved.

Open consultation on digital engagement platform Engage Victoria ( provided the opportunity for all stakeholders to have their say on proposed reforms to the Victoria Planning Provisions.

Advisory and Technical Reference Groups provide thorough, detailed input into the program’s initiatives.

A variety of other engagement methods including forums, live streams and surveys provide a comprehensive range of consultation opportunities.

Smart Planning is making the planning process more efficient. Additionally, the number of applications that can now be processed in 10 days through the fast-track VicSmart channel has doubled.

Simplifying the application process and removing unnecessary requirements has allowed 25,000 permits a year for new or renovated dwellings to be issued faster. Through permit exemptions and other changes, a further 5,000 applications a year have been made easier or a permit is no longer required.

Clearer and more concise rules will also cut preparation times for applications and provide greater certainty.


Any changes to planning rules (i.e. zones, overlays or provisions) will be communicated on the planning website and in the Smart Planning newsletter at the time of approval, and only affect future applications.

Smart Planning’s first two stages focused on addressing reform at a state level.

Stage 3 of the program is aiming to reform local government planning. Smart Planning is working closely with local councils to achieve full adoption of reforms into local planning schemes.

Reform initiatives that are currently underway include:

  • working with local councils on the translation of planning schemes to the new integrated Planning Policy Framework (PPF)
  • updating of local schedules to remove errors and inconsistencies
  • mapping the new Specific Controls Overlay (SCO).

For more information, email the Smart Planning program at

Page last updated: 22/01/20