Update: Changes to Victorian Planning Scheme to Extend COVID-19 Exemptions for Outdoor Areas

The Victorian Government has announced an extension to COVID-19 exemptions under the planning scheme that relate to use of outdoor areas across Victoria. These were due to expire on 12 October 2023 but have been extended for a further 12 month period.

In October 2020, the Victorian Government amended the planning scheme to facilitate hospitality venues that were extending outdoor trading arrangements in response to COVID-19. The current clause 52.18 inserted into the planning scheme includes the following exemptions to complying with the planning scheme or specific conditions on a planning permit (provided that certain pre-conditions are met):

  1. Public Land Exemptions

    The clause creates exemptions whereby requirements of the planning scheme do not apply to public land being used for, inter alia, hospitality uses.

    Planning scheme requirements relating to construction of a building or the construction or carrying out of works on public land also do not apply to a temporary building or moveable building associated with the use of land for hospitality uses.
  2. Food and drink business extension exemptions

    The clause creates exemptions whereby requirements of the planning scheme do not apply to hospitality uses if the use is associated with the existing use of adjoining land for a food and drink premises, function centre, nightclub or winery.

    The clause also creates exemptions relating to construction of a building or works where those works relate to a temporary building or moveable building associated with the use of the land for hospitality.
  3. Car parking exemption

    The clause exempts requirements for the provision of car parking to uses exempted under this clause as set out above, and to car parking requirements for the existing use.

These exemptions were set to expire on 12 October 2023, being the date that is 12 months after the expiry of the State of Emergency in response to COVID-19. However, the Victorian Government has now made a change to the planning scheme so that these exemptions will expire 24 months after the expiry of the State of Emergency, being 12 October 2024.

We remind you that the pre-conditions that must be met for the continued exemptions include the following:

  • Must not unreasonably affect the amenity of the neighbourhood.
  • Land in, or within 30 metres of, a residential zone must not be used for the outdoor consumption of food or drink between the hours of 10.00pm and 7.00am.
  • The use or development of land must not impede access required by emergency services or for waste collection.
  • The height of a building constructed or placed under an exemption in this clause must not exceed 3.6 metres.
  • A building must not be constructed or placed under an exemption in this clause within 1 metre of adjacent land in a residential zone if the height of the building exceeds 1.8 metres.

There also must be continued compliance with your liquor licence and the provisions of the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998.

If you would like specific advice about how your venue may be affected by this change, please contact our office.

This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.

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