Proposed planning amendment gives councils more say in sustainable buildings

A coalition of councils representing about half of Victoria’s population has lodged a state planning amendment that will effectively give them more power to require sustainability in new buildings.

MAV President David Clark

The amendment builds on current Environmentally Sustainable Development (ESD) requirements and will help protect the environment, reduce resource and energy consumption and support the health and wellbeing of occupants, the councils say.

The 24 councils are part of a joint project to improve ESD and achieve carbon development within state and local planning systems.

They lodged the joint planning scheme amendment on July 21.

The councils say local government is currently unable to demand clear reporting on sustainability measures from developers, and the amendment will give them the ability to require better ESD outcomes under a sub-section of state planning provisions.

“The measures and changes being pursued by the collective 24 councils via a planning scheme amendment contain a level of detail in order to improve ESD outcomes which will enable transitioning development to achieve zero carbon,” they say in a letter to the planning minister Lizzie Blandthorn seen by Government News.

The letter asks Ms Blandthorn to support the amendment and acknowledge that the current planning requirements don’t reflect the urgency needed to tackle climate change.

The coalition has spent $250,000 on “evidentiary and justification works” from consultants to support their case for the amendment.

Under the proposed changes, new developments would:

  • Produce net zero carbon emissions
  • Make buildings more energy efficient
  • Better manage water quality, use and collection
  • Protect and enhance greening and biodiversity
  • Be more resilient to changing climate impacts

The state government recently implemented the first stage of its ESD Roadmap, which creates new planning policy objectives, and councils say their proposed amendment will be the next step in improving ESD requirements via detailed, measurable targets.

MAV President Cr David Clark says it shows local government is leading the way in tackling climate change.

 “Local governments have long led work towards net zero carbon in new builds, but we need governments across all levels – state and federal – to work together if we want to create real change,” he said in a statement.

 “Minister Blandthorn has an opportunity to set her agenda in the planning portfolio and MAV calls on her and her state colleagues to make ESD a key action item to help make net zero carbon in new builds a reality across Victoria.”

The initiative comes on top of a raft of Victorian local government climate initiatives including climate emergency declarations, municipal zero emission targets , statutory climate pledges and council climate change strategies, frameworks and action plans.

The councils are members of the Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE) and include Ballarat, Banyule, Bayside, Boroondara, Darebin, Frankston, Glen Eira, Greater Bendigo, Greater Dandenong, Greater Geelong, Hobsons Bay, Knox, Maribyrnong, Mitchell, Moonee Valley, Moreland, Mornington Peninsula, Port Phillip, Stonnington, Strathbogie, Warrnambool, Whitehorse, Whittlesea, and Yarra.

Ms Blandthorn, who was sworn into cabinet as the new planning minister by Premier Daniel Andrews last month, has reportedly recused herself from projects involving her brother because of his links to a Labor-linked lobbying firm.

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One thought on “Proposed planning amendment gives councils more say in sustainable buildings

  1. Great initiative here by the 24 Councils involved but how come the other 55 Councils did not get involved given that we are facing an existential crisis all over the world as far as the environment is concerned-not just in Victoria. It amazes me that here in Australia that we all cannot act as one on this issue that effects us all and have this initiative extend over the whole country and placed in building regulations as well

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