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Achieving Zero Carbon in the Planning Scheme

Achieving Zero Carbon within the Planning Scheme - ESD V2.0

Achieving Zero Carbon within the Planning Scheme - ESD V2.0 aims to improve environmental planning outcomes within the municipality and support Merri-bek City Council’s Zero Carbon 2040 Framework and Action Plan.

This initiative aims to review, investigate and elevate the current requirements and ensure an effective transition for new development applications to support a zero carbon Merri-bek by 2040.

More information is available on our Zero Carbon Merri-bek website.

  • With our ESD Policy V2.0 we aim to explore the following areas:

    • Better roofs - to address the current shortfall with new developments committing to the installation of solar photovoltaic systems and/or address the urban heat island effect.
    • Zero Waste Infrastructure - to improve waste infrastructure to target zero waste to landfill by 2030.
    • Future proofing buildings for electric charging infrastructure - to give guidance for the installation of specific electric infrastructure in new developments.

    The initiative is divided into two stages. This includes a justification and evidence collection phase, followed by a potential planning scheme amendment.

  • As part of the later stages of our investigation we plan to also look into:

    • embedding circular economy principles
    • waste minimisation and recycling
    • the uptake of sustainable materials
    • improving urban ecology and green infrastructure requirements
  • We have communicated this initiative to multiple Councils throughout Victoria that have shared their enthusiasm. Through a collaborative approach, we are working with other Councils to pursue collective ambitions and strategic objectives which holistically involve improving development outcomes through the planning process.

Amendment C71 Environmentally Efficient Design

Amendment C71 introduced the intial local planning policy relating to environmentally sustainable design into the Merri-bek Planning Scheme to require new residential, mixed use and non-residential development to achieve best practice environmentally sustainable design. 

  • On 19 June 2013, Council received notification from DPCD that the Minister for Planning had decided to appoint a combined Panel and Ministerial Advisory Committee to consider submissions on the six amendments (Moreland C71, Banyule C71, Port Phillip C97, Stonnington C177, Whitehorse C130 and Yarra C133).

    A standard planning panel considers a proposed amendment and any issues raised in submissions and makes recommendation as to the appropriateness of the proposed amendment to the Merri-bek Planning Scheme. A combined Panel and Advisory Committee will consider issues beyond planning system and make broader recommendations regarding the building system and other relevant legislations, as detailed in the Terms of Reference (ToR).

    A combined Planning Panel and Ministerial Advisory Committee was held on 25, 26, 28 and 29 November 2013 and 3, 9, 16 and 17 December 2013.

    Advisory Committee and Panel Report 

    The C71 EED Policy - Advisory Committee and Panel Report (PDF 1Mb) for Merri-bek's Planning Scheme Amendment was received on 9 April 2014. Under the terms of reference of the Advisory Committee, the report was sent to the 6 Councils involved and the Minister for Planning simultaneously.

    The Councils have 28 days within which to make the report publically available. However, due to the positive nature of the recommendations and in light of Council not being able to formally consider the report prior to that time, the early release of the report simultaneously with the other Councils occured on 17 April 2014.

    The report is structured in two main parts:

    • Part A: General Issues - discusses the broader issues around sustainable development in the planning and building systems
    • Part B: Amendments - provides comments on the Amendments as exhibited by the 6 Councils.

    In its report, the Panel and Advisory Committee (PAC) noted that (p50):

    “The Committee acknowledges that the Amendment Councils have developed these policies in response to a lack of Statewide approach and are to be commended for their vision and commitment” and goes on to note “even if a Statewide policy is introduced, local policies may still be appropriate where municipalities seek to ‘raise the bar higher’ either in specific locations, or where the community has higher sustainability expectations”.

    In summary, the PAC has recommended that Amendment C71 be adopted generally as exhibited, with some changes to the wording of the policy. It was also recommended the Policy include a sunset clause to enable a review of the Policy should there be the introduction of a Statewide approach to sustainability.

    The report outlines 26 findings, which relate to the discussion in 'Part A: General Issues' and include:

    • There is a strong legislative and policy framework that supports the need for sustainable development and which recognises that both planning and building have a significant role to play in achieving it.
    • There is a role and statutory obligation for planning to advance sustainability.
    • While the existing State Planning Policy Framework and Victoria Planning Provisions provide a good starting point for the inclusion of sustainability, there are clear areas for improvement.
    • There are clear positive economic, social and environmental benefits to be gained through improved sustainable development outcomes in planning.
    • The approach to sustainability in planning schemes be further reviewed to provide a more coherent, strengthened approach to implementation. This should be based on a Statewide approach and include stronger, higher guidance in the State Planning Policy Framework and Clause 65, as a minimum, with consideration of a range of options.

    The Report includes a further 10 recommendations, which relate to the discussion in 'Part B: Amendments' and included:

    • The Policy title be reinstate to ‘Environmentally Sustainable Development’ as proposed pre-exhibition.
    • The Sustainable Design Assessment, in the Planning Process Fact Sheets in existence at the time of the Amendment exhibition, be adopted in the local policies as reference documents.
    • Adopt Merri-bek Planning Scheme Amendment C71 generally as exhibited with the Local Policy.

    For more information read the C71 EED Policy - Advisory Committee and Panel Report - Environmentally Efficient Design (PDF).

  • Amendment C71 to the Merri-bek Planning Scheme recieved twenty-five (25) submissions, of which two objected, ten requested changes and thirteen supported the proposed policy. 

    There was significant support for the policy from local governments across the State.

    The key objectors were the Housing Industry Association (HIA) and a Port Phillip resident.

    Key issues raised through the submission included:

    • Duplication of Building Code Requirements
    • Role of the State Planning Policy Framework
    • Formalising an existing voluntary process
    • Definition of best practice
    • Absence of targets
    • Affordability impacts
    • Single dwellings and extensions, and
    • Change the Policy name.

    At its meeting on 10 July 2013, Council resolved to request the Minister for Planning appoint a Panel to consider any submissions and the proposed Amendment C71 to the Merri-bek Planning Scheme. 

    For further information read the Amendment C71 - Environmentally Efficient Design - Efficient Design Policy (DOC).

  • November 2013: Combined Planning Panel and Ministerial Advisory Committee was held.

    April 2014: Advisory Committee and Panel Report for Merri-bek's Planning Scheme Amendment was received 

    July 2014: Amendment submitted to the Minister for Planning

    19 November 2015: Amendment approved and gazetted (ESD policy included in the Merri-bek Planning Scheme)

    27 May 2019: Amendment GC131 changes the expiry clause of the local ESD policy 

More information on how this local policy works and the sustainable design asssessment in the planning process is on our Environmentally Sustainable Design page.