Planning and building approvals process review

Review into Victoria's building and planning approvals processes and early building works infrastructure.

The Treasurer and Minister for Planning have asked the Red Tape Commissioner to undertake a review of State and local government processes surrounding building and planning approvals, and early building works infrastructure approvals and to identify opportunities to streamline processes and reduce delays. The Commissioner will be supported in this work by an Advisory Board comprising:

  • Bill Kusznirczuk, Managing Director of Clement-Stone Town Planners, Deputy Chairman of the Victorian Planning Authority, and Advisory Board Member of the Office of Projects Victoria
  • Kate Roffey, Director at the City of Wyndham and former CEO of the Committee for Melbourne
  • Radley de Silva, former CEO of the Master Builders Association of Victoria

Status update

The review has looked at the root causes for why planning and building approvals have become so complex and time consuming and, in many cases, less effective than they should be. A discussion paper was released on 24 October, which identified 27 points in the approvals chain where specific short and medium-term improvements can be made.

Many of these issues have been identified in the past and individual councils have already made significant efforts to address these. What is needed is adoption of best practices, reforming the rules and simplifying processes, along the entire approvals chain.

There are many decisions-makers involved along the pipeline and reforming the planning and building approvals system will require coordination across all of these. There is scope to improve the interactions between all decision-makers and potentially deliver a significant efficiency dividend as a result of these reforms.A range of estimates has been provided by various parties of the economic cost of avoidable delays in the $33 billion construction sector. These appear to lie somewhere in the order of $400 to $600 million a year – or up to 2% of the value of the sector. Addressing these would impact housing affordability and reduce delays and costs.

This discussion paper sets out what we have heard from stakeholders, the conclusions we have drawn from looking at the data and the analysis of council approvals processes being undertaken by PwC.

The Commissioner would like to thank the advisory board of Bill Kusznirczuk, Kate Roffey and Radley de Silva as well as the review team for all their hard work on this discussion paper.

A report to the Treasurer and Minister for Planning has now been submitted.


The development industry has previously identified that problems and delays in the planning approval process are significant, particularly with respect to the internal and external referrals process and the further approvals required following the issue of a planning permit.

These issues in Victoria’s building and planning systems, and in early building works infrastructure approvals, are potentially impeding the State’s capacity to deliver housing, business and infrastructure investment efficiently.

Many of the delays and hurdles are due to multiple referral processes and duplication. This includes the widely variable internal referral processes within local government.

It makes sense to review the State and local government processes surrounding building and planning approvals and early building works infrastructure approvals and identify opportunities to streamline process and reduce delays.

Terms of reference

A joint Treasurer and Minister for Planning terms of reference direct the review to:

  • Map a select number of council planning permit approval processes in the building and planning systems, with a particular focus on the internal and external referral processes, that impact on the development of land and construction of dwellings (freestanding houses, townhouses, apartments) and commercial buildings including offices, factories and warehouses. This mapping exercise will cover State and local government processes, institutional arrangements and their interactions.
  • Draw on the findings and outcomes of previous reviews and studies as required, including from other jurisdictions, such as the Queensland central referrals process.
  • Undertake consultation with:
    • industry associations
    • relevant State Government departments and agencies
    • MAV, VLGA and Victorian local government
    • relevant planning and building experts
  • Identify early and medium-term opportunities to streamline these processes to reduce delays and costs without compromising the public interest

With respect to early building works approvals and utilities, the Review will:

  • examine work previously undertaken by the Essential Services Commission with regards to electricity connections and identify if issues still persist
  • identify other utilities that are having connection issues
  • identify other areas of early building works that are prone to delays
  • identify early and medium-term opportunities to streamline these processes to reduce delays and costs without compromising the public interest (including safety)
  • feed findings into other relevant reviews

The Review and Final Report will be completed within 9 months of receiving the terms of reference, with a draft Report provided to the Treasurer and Minister for Planning within 6 months from date of commencement.

Reviewed 06 March 2020

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