Rezoning is becoming an increasingly popular method of creating space, especially with Australia’s growing population. The Urban Development Program Industrial 2021 shows that 138ha of former industrial land was rezoned for non-industrial purposes – nearly 50 ha of this was zoned to mixed-use or residential zones.
This method of property development changes the range of permissible uses of the land, the development controls to be implemented, and the type of loan that an investor can get for the property. It may also affect the value of land and influence the rates applicable to it.
However, all rezoning applications have to go through a formal amendment process. Due to the various legal requirements and heavy bulk of the administrative workload, the application process can be challenging and time-consuming. It is best to enlist the assistance of an experienced rezoning property consultant to ensure you receive quick and seamless approval.
Nevertheless, if you are looking to understand how the property rezoning application process works, we have simplified it so that you are aware of the procedure and the timeframe, and are able to plan your project accordingly.
The property rezoning application process
When you rezone a property, you are changing the existing plan set out by the State; hence, you must apply for an amendment to your local planning scheme to rezone your property.
The amendment process is set out in the Planning and Environment Act 1987 and it must be authorised by the Minister for Planning (Minister) before it can be prepared. Here is what you need to do:
Check for restrictive covenants
Before applying for rezoning of your property, you have to check if your property is affected by any restrictive covenants – a private treaty or a written agreement between landowners that limits the way land can be used and developed.
Restrictive covenants are most commonly applied when a land owner subdivides land for sale and intends to impose restrictions on the usage and development of the lots, such as:
- Limiting development to only one dwelling per lot.
- Controlling the materials used in the construction of new structures and fences.
- Prohibiting quarrying operations on the land.
These are recorded on the Certificate of Title for the land; hence you should check with the Land Titles Office to determine whether your property is affected. If your property is subject to a restrictive covenant, you must first apply to have it removed before proceeding with the rezoning application. It is best to engage a town planning consultant to help you speed up this process and ensure you reach a favourable outcome.
Request for an amendment
Once you are sure your property is clear of any restrictive covenants, you may request an amendment to your local planning scheme. This request should be discussed with the local council before submitting the official amendment request.
Before submitting the amendment to the Minister, you can proceed with a request by creating a draft amendment online in the Amendment Tracking System (ATS).
Submit for authorisation
Authorisation by the Minister is done to identify whether a proposed amendment is consistent with State policy or interests and ensure the Victoria Planning Provisions are used appropriately.
Similar to the amendment request, you are required to submit the authorisation request through ATS. You must submit the following documents along with your authorisation request:
- Explanatory report – disclose the purpose, effect, and strategic basis for the amendment.
- Instruction sheet – set out the instructions for amending the planning scheme, including the maps, and planning scheme clauses and schedules that are to be amended, inserted, or deleted.
- Incorporated and/or background documents – only if applicable.
- Supporting documents – photographs, drawings, and other relevant records.
The Minister may also request additional information such as a draft of your planning permit to assist with the authorisation application process.
Prepare for exhibition
Once the Minister has reviewed and authorised the amendment, then you can begin preparing the amendment. This stage covers the preliminary investigation, strategic assessment, consultation with relevant parties, and the preparation of the amendment documentation.
You must submit the exhibition documentation through ATS no less than 10 business days before you provide public notice. You must also schedule panel hearing dates at least 25 days before issuing a notice of exhibition using ATS. This is to ensure that accurate information about the amendment is available when it is exhibited.
When submitting your exhibition through ATS, you are required to include the following documents:
- Notice of preparation of an amendment
- Explanatory report
- Amendment instruction sheet
- Amendment map sheets
- Amendment clauses and schedules
- Incorporated and/or background documents
- Planning permit draft
- Section 173 Agreements
- Other prescribed documents and information relating to the exhibited amendment
In addition, you must also contact the Victorian Government Gazette Office and arrange a publication of the notice of the preparation in the Government Gazette.
Once finalised, the Minister’s department will make the amendment publicly available on its website on the day the first notice is issued. During this period, the community can provide their feedback to the local council about the amendment proposal.
An independent panel – Planning Panels Victoria – will independently assess your amendment request by considering submissions of the community and your own by conducting hearings and/or preparing reports.
The local council will review all submissions and panel reports, and then decide whether to adopt or abandon your amendment request.
If the local council adopts your amendment request, the amendment is then submitted to the Minister for consideration and approval. Similar to the previous stages, this must be submitted through ATS together with all the required documents and information.
The outcome of your amendment request will be published in the Victoria Government Gazette and will be available on the government website once the Minister makes a decision. If your request is approved, you may proceed with your property rezoning project.
Get in touch with the experts
We hope this summary of the intricate property rezoning application process has given you an understanding of how the system works and what to expect when you take on a rezoning project. Nevertheless, it is recommended that you enlist the assistance of experienced town planning consultants in Melbourne to ensure your application process goes smoothly.
At Barker Monahan, we are committed to ensuring our clients receive first-class town planning services. We have decades of experience guiding clients through challenging application processes, providing VCAT representation, and supporting them to a successful outcome. Contact us today and our friendly team will be happy to assist you.