Planning applications in rural areas

When applying for a planning application it is key to know your property land zone, the current and future utilities, any overlays and your legal obligations.

The Planning and Environment Act 1987

This is the legislative basis for land use planning in Victoria. The Act establishes a framework for planning the use and development of land in Victoria. Planning schemes have been prepared for all Victorian local government areas.

The Victoria Planning Provisions (VPP) is a template document from which planning schemes are constructed. The VPP provides a standard format for all planning schemes in Victoria and comprises state standard provisions that are consistent across all planning schemes and local provisions which vary between municipalities.

Rural land and planning zones

You may require a permit in land zones for a farm dwelling or a change in agricultural enterprise and it should not adversely affect the land or surrounding area.

Land in rural Victoria can be zoned as any of the following:

  • farming zone (FZ)
  • green wedge zone (GWZ)
  • green A wedge zone (GWAZ)
  • rural activity zone (RAZ)
  • rural conservation zone (RCZ)
  • rural living zone (RLZ)

Some councils may request a Farm Plan to assist with these permit applications.

The planning application process explained

All planning processes involve 5 phases:

  1. Pre-application
  2. Application
  3. Assessment
  4. Approval
  5. Implementation (including compliance or appeals)

To ensure less application time delays we recommend you have:

  • early discussions about why an application may or may not be approved by council or other authorities
  • pre-application meeting held before the application being submitted (held with council, relevant agencies and the applicant)
  • clear guidelines about which authorities to talk to about the various aspects of the application and when
  • a checklist of what to include in an application and Farm Plan provided at the start of the process, ensures the applicant is clear about expectations from the beginning.

Applications with a Farm Plan are found to be:

  • completed sooner
  • resulted in better planning
  • less burdensome on the landholder and council staff.

Key questions to ask your council planner

To improve the time and success of your application the following are some of the questions you may ask:

  • Can we have a pre-application meeting?
  • What information should I bring along to this pre-application meeting?
  • Is Council likely to request a Farm Plan for this application?
  • If so, what detail will need to be included in the Farm Plan for this type of application or zone. Do you have a checklist?
  • What authorities should I speak to before I lodge my application (and about which aspects of the application)?
  • Does the council have a preference about who prepares the Farm Plan (owner of land, consultant)?
  • Generally how long does it take to process an application?

More information

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning leads and supports the development of liveable communities that are well planned and well designed.

General contacts

Talk to your local Council Planning Officer about who else you may need to approach.

Other authorities you may need to contact for your circumstances:

  • local water authority
  • Catchment Management Authority (CMA)
  • Country Fire Authority (CFA)
Page last updated: 29 Jun 2020