BESS & the Planning System

Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process

Sustainability is fundamental to the Planning and Environment Act (1987), Victoria’s framework for planning the use, development and protection of land in Victoria in the present and long-term interests of all Victorians, and the State Policy Planning Framework (SPPF). Local governments also have sustainability objectives in local Structure Plans, Municipal Strategic Statements and planning overlays.

Working together, Victorian local governments have developed a consistent and rigorous framework, known as the Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) framework. This framework has been used for the past decade and there is a precedent supported by the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) that upholds these requirements for developments.

The SDAPP framework:

  • Recognises the role of local governments as a statutory authority for planning matters;
  • Provides a framework for consideration of sustainable design elements of planning applications;
  • Offers a consistent method for identifying opportunities for improved environmental building performance; and
  • Ensures that sustainability is considered at the very early design phase – the best time to maximise opportunities for good orientation and other initiatives that create liveable, comfortable, efficient buildings.

BESS is the recommended tool under SDAPP. 

Victorian local governments are working toward a consistent application of the SDAPP framework, but you should always check the submission requirements in the relevant local council.

Environmentally Sustainable Design Local Planning Policy

Seventeen CASBE Councils (Banyule, Brimbank, Darebin, Greater Bendigo, Greater Dandenong, Hobsons Bay, Kingston, Knox, Manningham, Merri-bek (Moreland), Monash, Port Phillip, Stonnington, Whitehorse, Whittlesea, Wyndham and Yarra) have a specific Environmentally Sustainable Design policy in their Local Planning Policy Framework. Other Councils are also seeking this policy. 

The ESD Local Policy formalises the SDAPP Framework. The policies are identical in each Council except for minor differences in the size and scale of development which triggers the policy. See Planning Schemes Online or contact Councils directly for their ESD Local Planning Policy. 

Related Legislation and Regulations

Planning & Environment Act

SDAPP is consistent with the objectives of planning in Victoria as expressed in the Planning and Environment Act, in particular Council's duties as required under Section 60 of the Planning and Environment Act, to consider:

Any significant effects which the responsible authority considers the use or development may have on the environment or which the responsible authority considers the environment may have on the use or development. (60/1/e).

State Planning Policy Framework

The State Planning Policy Framework (SPPF), the area of a planning scheme that is consistent throughout Victoria, is aimed at fostering development in the interests of net community benefit and sustainable development. For more information refer to Clause 15 of any Victorian Planning Scheme.

Building Regulations

SDAPP is intended to facilitate environmental performance outcomes that are above the minimum requirements under building regulations, principally the Building Code of Australia (Victoria), with care taken to ensure no inconsistencies with these regulations.