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25 July 2019

Planning Policy Framework Reforms

Earlier this month, the first of the ‘new look’ integrated Planning Policy Frameworks (PPF) was gazetted within the Murrindindi Planning Scheme. This translated the previous Local Planning Policy Framework (LPPF) content and the Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS) into the new integrated PPF and Municipal Planning Strategy (MPS).

This initiative is part of the Stage 3 reforms to the Smart Planning Rules and Policy Program. The revised Planning Policy Framework seeks to:

  • introduce a new MPS at Clause 2;
  • provide a more coherent framework with integrated state, regional and local policy at Clauses 10-19;
  • provide the integration of local policy into various schedules of zones, overlays and other provisions; and
  • reduce the duplication, complexity and (often) conflicting nature of the Planning Policy Framework.

The aim is to provide a more condensed, simplified and succinct planning scheme.

So now that we have one example, do we think that the smart planning reforms are delivering on its goals?

The Municipal Planning Strategy

The introduction of the new MPS at Clause 2 provides an upfront outline of the strategic directions and objectives for the municipality. The MPS has largely summarised much of the policy goals previously contained within the Municipal Strategic Statement (formerly at Clause 21) and provides a simplified strategic framework for the municipality.

Integrated State, Regional and Local Policy

The PPF now facilitates the integration of State, Regional and local planning policies in a more streamlined and logical manner. The individual Clauses 10-19 now cover issues from an overarching State-wide perspective, ‘funnelling down’ to a regional and more localised perspective. The thematic approach and consolidation of policy provides a more coherent, less repetitive and less contradictory policy framework.

Scheduled Policy

The introduction of local policy within planning schedules offers an important separation between the overarching policy framework and targeted policies designed for specific locations, development, or uses. The translation of policies that were previously within the Local Planning Policy Framework into individual schedules provides enhanced clarity on the relevant assessment criteria.

For example, Murrindindi’s Gaming policy previously was found under 21.06-4 ‘Community Development’ as a subclause within Clause 21.06 ‘Transport and Infrastructure’. The transformation of the policy framework has now resulted in a clarified and targeted schedule to Clause 52.28 (Gaming) of the Murrindindi Planning Scheme. The overarching objectives and policies centred around gaming have now been translated into the schedule. This provides a more logical structure and also a clearer direction of assessment.

Reduction, Reduction, Reduction

Arguably the most important change as part of these reforms is the reduction in the often overlapping and sometimes inconsistent policies contained within the policy framework. The reduction in the repetition of similar policies spread across numerous sections of the Scheme will allow for a more consolidated, simpler and logical understanding of policies.

While Stage 3 of the Smart Planning Rules and Policy Program has made steps in the right direction in providing a more integrated planning policy framework, it will be interesting to see how the metropolitan planning schemes will be translated into the new look PPFs which comprise more comprehensive local planning policies. Notably, Murrindindi’s Planning Scheme did not contain any local policies. The opportunity exists for many existing planning policies to be overhauled and to be condensed into a streamlined PPF. This will greatly assist in deciphering relevant strategic policies and provide a more accountable and accurate assessment process.

Conclusion

On the basis of our review of the first planning scheme to have their local policy content fully integrated into the new PPF, Stage 3 of the Smart Planning reforms has been successful in achieving its goals. The fully integrated PPF provides an overarching MPS and a simplified yet more coherent policy framework, producing a more succinct and simple planning scheme.  

With each planning scheme expected to feature the new Planning Policy Framework format over the coming two years, we eagerly await to see how more complex planning schemes will be translated. Watch this space.

Author: Edelene Loke, Associate: Planning and Jack Lyons, Town Planner 

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