|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
The Department of Planning and Housing was established in January 1991 and inherited responsibility for the general planning function along with responsibility for environment effects statements, heritage protection, and building regulation from the Department of Planning and Urban Growth (VA 3006). The following "public housing" and "public building" functions which had previously been the responsibility of the Ministry of Housing and Construction (VA 2907) were also transferred at this time: public housing and design and construction of government buildings.
Initially the previous Ministry of Housing and Construction (VA 2907) was made an associated administrative unit of the Department (from January 1991 known as Office of Housing, in March 1991 this was changed to Housing and Construction, Victoria). However in May 1992 Housing and Construction, Victoria was removed as an administrative unit of the Department and an administrative arrangements order formally transferred legislative responsibility to the Department of Planning and Housing.
In October 1992 all the functions of the Department (planning, environment effects statements, heritage protection, building regulation, housing and design and construction of government buildings were transferred to the newly created Department of Planning and Development (VA 3094).
The prime focus of the Department was managing and controlling the use of land, the provision and management of public housing, the design and construction of government buildings and urban land development.
Overview of Planning Functions
The State Government became involved with land use planning in the 1920s in response to pressure from town planners for improved land use and better co-ordination of services. Municipalities were given power to zone land for residential use in 1921. The Metropolitan Town Planning Commission (VA 3131) (est. 1922) recommended development of planning schemes with statutory force to be administered by municipalities. Little was done, however, to implement these proposals during the depression of the 1930s.
Prior to the Second World War, the Victorian Housing Commission (VA 508) was empowered to require municipalities to prepare zoning plans for residential areas as part of the Commission's slum abatement programme. During the War, the Commonwealth used its control of funding for housing to pressure the States to adopt both town planning and regional strategic planning as part of postwar reconstruction.
Regional planning developed into the regional development and decentralisation functions of State Development & Decentralisation (VRG 51) and was carried out through the State Regional Boundaries Committee (est. 1944) and subsequently by the Central Planning Authority (est. 1946).
Statutory (town) planning began in 1944 co-ordinated by the Town & Country Planning Board (VA 516). Under this statutory regime, municipalities (singly or jointly) prepared planning schemes for approval by the Minister, and then administered the approved schemes. Interim development orders provided planning authority in areas not yet covered by a scheme. The Melbourne & Metropolitan Board of Works (VA 1007) was given responsibility for the Melbourne metropolitan planning scheme from 1949 to 1985.
In 1968, amendments were made to planning legislation which broadened the planning function to include "strategic planning" and introduced greater co-ordination. A three-tiered planning system was introduced. Planning schemes now operate within a framework established by State-wide Statements of Planning Policy and Regional Planning Schemes. This system, further centralised and streamlined by legislative amendments in 1987, establishes closer links with other planning mechanisms in areas such as transport, education, heritage protection, and environment protection.
Development of Statutory Planning Functions [Planning Schemes (to 1988)]
From 1922 to 1929 the Metropolitan Town Planning Commission (VA 3131), financed partly by Melbourne metropolitan municipalities and partly by contributions from the Railways, Tramways, Harbour Trust, and the Board of Works, operated in an advisory and honorary capacity. Its work included research and recommendations on urban development and town planning. Its 1929 report (concerning zoning, transport, recreation, harbours and rivers, building regulation, and conservation) provided a model for those urging government to enact a statutory planning regime and for those municipalities undertaking land use zoning up to 1944.
As part of postwar reconstruction, the Commonwealth prompted the States to undertake both town and regional planning. In Victoria, town planning functions were set up on a statutory basis administered through the Town and Country Planning Board (T&CPB) (VA 516). Regional planning (cf. regional development) was carried out through the State Regional Boundaries Committee and subsequently by the Central Planning Authority.
The work of the T&CPB in the preparation, amendment, administration and enforcement of planning schemes and interim development orders included:
co-ordinating and advising planning authorities responsible for developing and administering statutory planning schemes, and
advising the Minister whether or not schemes and scheme amendments prepared by municipalities and other planning authorities should be approved and gazetted.
Melbourne and Metropolitan Statutory Planning 1949 - 1988 [Planning Schemes (to 1988) Melbourne and Metropolitan]
Because most municipalities had failed to use their new planning powers, in 1949 the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (VA 1007) was given the task of preparing a metropolitan planning scheme. Responsibilities transferred to the MMBW for the metropolitan area included:
preparation or amendment of planning schemes and interim development orders
levying of annual metropolitan improvement rate to recover expenses of planning activities
administration and enforcement of the provisions or sections of the provisions of schemes including consideration and determination of planning permit applications and ensuring compliance with the planning controls and the conditions attached to planning consent
The first version of the Melbourne Metropolitan Planning Scheme (1954) was prepared by the MMBW and exhibited in 1953. The MMBW approved the scheme in 1958 but it was not until 1968 that the Minister for Local Government gazetted it as a legally enforceable document.
As a result of changes to planning legislation in 1968 the MMBW was given responsibility for statutory planning of an enlarged metropolitan area.
The 1971 amendment to the Mark I Scheme generated such widespread debate within the community that the Board re-evaluated its position and in 1974 published the Report on General Concept Objections to inform the public of its deliberations to the objections to the 1971 proposal. The Mark III plan, the Metropolitan Strategy, was presented in 1980.
When the MMBW commenced its Mark I plan only a few local councils were engaged in scheme preparation. Local planning powers were not suspended but allowed to co-exist with those of the MMBW, leading to a complex process of land use control. In 1981 nine metropolitan municipalities had a planning scheme while 12 had Interim Development Orders, some requiring developers to apply for a permit from both local and metropolitan authorities. Gradually the MMBW negotiated with the relevant councils to reduce this duplication.
In 1979 planning legislation was amended to allow local councils to play a more clearly defined role. Subsequently municipalities were able to prepare local development schemes within broad regional guidelines. These schemes were to introduce even finer grained zoning than under the Melbourne Metropolitan Planning Scheme provided they did not conflict with it. Only one such scheme was ever approved and the local development schemes were repealed shortly thereafter.
The development control function of metropolitan statutory planning was largely delegated to local councils (around 60%) while the MMBW retained primary responsibility for permit applications concerning the boundaries of zones or reservations and for all land in certain zones, such as Rural Residential Zones, Reserved Industrial Zones and Special Conservation Zones. During the late 1970s and the 1980s local councils developed their role beyond that of making decisions in regard to planning applications for land uses and areas delegated by the MMBW.
The Development of Strategic Planning 1968 to 1988 [Planning (to 1988)]
After the overhaul of state planning legislation in 1968 the functions undertaken by the Town and Country Planning Board were broadened to include:
the co-ordinated development of statewide general land use planning policies to provide effective guidance for the preparation of statutory planning schemes and co-ordination of planning mechanisms available to various government agencies and statutory authorities
preparation of Statements of Planning Policy with the assistance of the State Planning Council, later the State Co-ordination Council. These bodies consisted of representatives of various service, development and conservation authorities and were to develop broad scale, strategic land use policy and produce statements of planning policy for specific areas or types of land use which when approved by the Minister and gazetted, became government policy and legally binding on both councils and regional authorities. Statements of Planning Policy which came into operation were:
Statement of Planning Policy 1 (Westernport) 1970 (varied 1976)
Statement of Planning Policy 2 (Mornington Peninsula) 1970
Statement of Planning Policy 3 (Upper Yarra Valley and Dandenongs)
1971 (varied 1979)
Statement of Planning Policy 4 (Yarra River) 1971 (varied 1979)
Statement of Planning Policy 5 (Highway Areas) 1973
Statement of Planning Policy 6 (Land Use and Aerodromes) 1973
Statement of Planning Policy 7 (Geelong) 1973
Statement of Planning Policy 8 (Macedon Ranges and Surrounds) 1975
Statement of Planning Policy 9 (Central Gippsland) 1975
It was envisaged that regional planning authorities established under the post-1968 legislation would operate in most, if not all, the regions of Victoria. It was also envisaged that the Statements of Planning Policy would provide the guidelines for regional authorities to develop regional planning schemes (statutory) to be administered by local municipalities. However most of those regional planning authorities which were established were given primarily a strategic planning role rather than a statutory planning role.
The Planning and Environment Act 1987 [Planning, post 1988]
After 1988 a more co-ordinated programme of statutory and strategic planning was conducted under the Planning and Environment Act 1987. The new legislation introduced broader heritage, urban and environment conservation planning controls into the planning process. Sections of the 1987 Act provide that all planning schemes must include provisions relating to the protection of both rural or natural area conservation and heritage and urban conservation including natural and other resources and the maintenance of ecological processes and genetic diversity. Planning schemes under the Act must also seek to conserve and enhance those buildings, areas and or other places which are of scientific, aesthetic, architectural or historical interest, or otherwise of special cultural value. These sections of the Act are in part a restatement of Government policy as expressed in the document Protecting the Environment. Conservation Strategy for Victoria 1987
Functions undertaken under this legislation can be summarised as:
development and implementation of State and Regional sections of planning schemes. State sections provide for government policies and strategic planning issues such as highways and other matters of state significance. Regional sections provide for policies, standards and strategies which apply across a region.
amendment of planning schemes by regional authorities, municipalities and others authorised by the Minister (planning authorities)
advising the Minister whether or not schemes and scheme amendments prepared by municipalities and regional authorities should be approved and gazetted
approval and gazettal of planning schemes by the Minister for Planning
administration and enforcement of the provisions or sections of the provisions of schemes including consideration and determination of planning permit applications, issue of permits and ensuring compliance with the planning controls and the conditions attached to planning consent. This aspect of the function is usually administered by local councils (responsible authorities) but can also be the Minister for Planning or any other Minister or public authority specified in the scheme. Administration of planning schemes can also involve referral to any person or public authority that is specified in the scheme as a referral authority for an application of that kind. The referral authority has the right of veto to the granting of the permit. The State section of all schemes specifies the Environment Protection Authority (VA 1058) as the referral authority for applications for use or development requiring a works approval, a licence to discharge, or an amendment of a licence under the Environment Protection Act 1970. The Liquor Licensing Commission (VA 2869) is specified as the referral authority where an application relates to the use of premises where a license under the Liquor Control Act 1987 may be sought. The Secretary of the Department of Energy and Minerals (VA 3035) is specified as the referral authority for applications to use or develop land for mineral prospecting/exploration, mineral evaluation/development or mineral production.
Environment Effects Statements
Where development proposals involve projects that could have a substantial impact on the environment, such as major engineering works or tourist centres in ecologically sensitive areas, the Minister may require the proponent to prepare an Environment Effects Statement. This function has encompassed:
the administration of the Environment Effects Act 1978 and advice regarding the preparation of Environment Effects Statements involving the assessment of potential environmental impacts of proposed developments and land uses which are likely to have significant environmental effects.
This function was developed and administered along with the general environment protection function until 1990 when the Office of the Environment (responsible for the environment protection function) was transferred from the Ministry for Planning and Environment (VA 1024) to the Department of Conservation and Environment (VA 3004) and this function was transferred to the Department of Planning and Urban Growth along with other general planning functions. For more information about the general environment protection function see VA 1024 Ministry for Planning and Environment. For more information about the Environment Protection Regulation function see VA 1058 Environment Protection Authority.
Heritage Protection and Preservation of the Built Environment
ly owned buildings which are of "historic" or "architectural significance" can be protected and assistance given for their upkeep under the Historic Buildings Act, see section protection of historic buildings below.
Government owned buildings of "historic" or "architectural significance" which are still used for government purposes and which are not on a crown land reserve (ie. are situated on government land) can, from 1989, be protected under the same legislation [See section protection of historic buildings below] or can be protected under the Government Buildings Advisory Council Act 1972, see section preservation of government buildings below.
"Historic sites or places" denotes areas (such as goldfields) or historic buildings once ly owned or government owned but no longer used for government purposes, which are on public crown land (usually reserved), see section historic sites on Crown lands in VA 3004 Department of Conservation and Environment.
ly owned buildings can also be protected through statutory planning controls which designate certain areas as being of urban conservation or historic interest. Advisory services and financial assistance is given to encourage conservation and restoration projects with particular emphasis on the conservation of historic areas, see section heritage protection below.
National Estate funding is used to assist projects under these and many other types of conservation and preservation programmes which seek to protect Australia's cultural and natural heritage, see section National Estate in VA 1024 Ministry for Planning and Environment.
This function has generally been administered along with other statutory and strategic planning functions and has encompassed:
the provision of general heritage advice to local government and other responsible authorities within the statutory planning framework; the provision of advice on heritage matters to the Ministry, particularly with reference to planning schemes which include historic or architecturally important buildings or areas.
the identification and designation of Urban Conservation Areas and recommendations for amendments to planning schemes to protect the historic and architectural character of these areas
the development of policy for heritage protection. See Victoria's Heritage: A Future for the Past strategy paper released 1983/84
the administration of a system of advisory services and financial assistance to encourage conservation and restoration projects with particular emphasis on the conservation of historic areas, as distinct from individual buildings in both country towns and the inner suburbs of Melbourne, including:
? the Restoration Funds and Advisory Services Program which provides selected towns with part-time heritage advisers and with small restoration funds loaned to individuals on the advice of a local restoration fund committee. Towns assisted in this way include Maldon, Beechworth/Chiltern/Yackandandah, Queenscliff, Ballarat, and Port Fairy.
? In the early 1990s the Heritage Properties Restoration Program a jointly funded Commonwealth/State program to restore many of Victoria's heritage properties was administered. Also responsibility for financial administration and contribution of expertise and staff resources for the City of Melbourne Restoration Fund Ltd, a joint initiative of the State Government and the Melbourne City Council providing low interest loans to restore significant buildings in the City of Melbourne.
heritage planning studies conducted in urban and rural areas
management of the Goldfields Restoration Fund developed with reference to the Victorian Tourism Commission's goldfields tourism strategy, and to public land historic-site management, funded by Commonwealth Bicentennial program and providing financial assistance in the form of loans to owners of historic buildings or sites for conservation projects.
Protection of Historic Buildings
This function encompasses the preservation of historic buildings, both ly owned and government owned, other than government buildings still registered on the Government Buildings Register and historic sites on crown land. See VA 1405 Historic Buildings Council for more information regarding the administration of this function.
Preservation of Government Buildings
This function encompasses the preservation of designated government-owned buildings used for government purposes (e.g. Government House). See VA 1405 Historic Buildings Council for more information regarding the administration of this function.
Over time this function has encompassed:
from 1937 clearance of slum areas, improving existing housing, establishing minimum housing standards, providing public housing for persons with limited means and zoning areas for residential or other use.
from 1945 administration of funding allocated to public housing under the terms of a Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement Act (No.5114) including the construction and management of large public housing estates.
from the 1970s providing financial assistance and information to home buyers and renovators; managing housing assistance programmes including providing rental accommodation through the Government's rental housing programme, community-managed housing and rental.
A Slum Reclamation Abolition Board was appointed by Cabinet on 19 July 1936 to investigate housing in Victoria after concerns were expressed about the ability of many local municipalities to cope with increasing demands for housing associated with the establishment of large manufacturing industry. Subsequently the Housing Commission of Victoria was established by the Housing Act 1937. Following an initial investigation of housing conditions a further Act was passed in 1938, the Slum Reclamation and Housing Act. The two Acts defined the following main principles governing the operations of the Commission:
improvement of existing housing conditions
determination of minimum standards with which new houses must comply
reclamation of insanitary areas
provision of houses for persons of limited means
zoning, i.e. the division of municipal districts into residential and other areas.
From this early period until the 1970s emphasis was placed on clearing slum areas and re-housing people of limited means at the cheapest cost. From 1945 funding was provided for public housing under the Commonwealth State Housing Agreements and the Commission built large estates of public housing (houses, units and multi-storey flats) in cleared areas in the inner urban region and in undeveloped areas on the outskirts of Melbourne. A Concrete House Factory, known as the Holmesglen Concrete House Project, was established to facilitate the cheap mass production of prefabricated houses.
The first significant change in the Commission's functions resulted from the Housing Act 1943. This Act enabled the Commission to let or lease houses to persons of limited means who wished to purchase a home. The Housing Act 1953 widened the objectives and powers of the Commission to enable it to cope with the planning requirements of large estates.
In 1972 the Ministry of Housing was established and took over prime responsibility for the housing function which included:
improving housing conditions
providing adequate and suitable houses for letting or purchase to persons of limited means or living under unsatisfactory housing conditions
co-ordinating the supply and renewal of public housing
assisting in the provision of finance for persons building, purchasing or renovating houses
The Housing Commission continued to be responsible for the following aspects of the housing function until it was abolished in 1983 :
the Ministry's purchase and construction program,
the allocation of housing funds,
general tenancy arrangements
From the late 1980s the public housing function has encompassed
the provision of affordable home finance to lower and moderate income earners who would not normally qualify for finance from other lending institutions, so that they may achieve and maintain full or partial home ownership.
developing and piloting home finance products, supervising external parties responsible for managing and retailing loan products, risk management of loan portfolios, maintaining a waiting list and allocation system, and providing information on home finance products.
developing policy responses to State and Commonwealth initiatives and developing key policy positions on rent allocation, tenure and related issues, including developing community housing options and program initiatives, conducting sector-wide housing analysis, overseas government-assisted housing research and advising on the economic impact of housing.
the provision of public rental and community managed rental housing programs and assistance to renters in the market.
managing direct tenure public rental housing, community managed housing programs, rental assistance programs, acquisition and improvement of housing and land.
Design and Construction of Government Buildings
This function encompasses the programming, planning, and design and construction of works and buildings for state government departments, ministries and agencies.
This function encompasses the control and development of uniform building regulations.
In 1940 the first centrally controlled uniform building regulations were established under the Local Government Act 1928. Prior to this each municipality could make by-laws for itself governing building regulation. The 1940 legislation established the Building Regulations Commission which was to prepare and submit draft building regulations to the Minister for Public Works (VRG 18).
Under the Local Government Act 1958 the power to administer Uniform Building Regulations continue to be vested in municipalities (except where provided under Health Act, Sewerage Regulations and Water Supply Regulations which are subject to the approval of appropriate government authorities). The Uniform Building Regulations define detailed provisions for building operations and prescribe certain minimum standards which councils are bound to observe, however, councils have the power to insist on standard above those prescribed in the Regulations. Appeals against decisions by councils may be made to a panel of Referees.
Under the provisions of the Uniform Building Regulations, no building may be erected, constructed, placed in position, rebuilt, reconstructed, re-erected, replaced in position, altered, structurally altered, pulled down or removed unless it complies with the Local Government Act and Uniform Building Regulations and is approved by a council. A written permit must be obtained from the Council and a fee paid as prescribed. Responsibility for the actual administration of building regulation permits lies with each municipal council, see VRG 12 Municipalities.
Location of Records
For records of this agency see list of series below.