Guide for Planners

The role of planners

A planner’s role, whether it is strategic or statutory, is to undertake integrated decision making in favour of net community benefit and sustainable development as outlined in Clause 71.02-3 of the Victoria Planning Provisions.

Decisions made by planners at local government level greatly influence the delivery of the Regional Catchment Strategy vision and targets. Most decisions about how privately owned land is used and developed are made by planners working in local government. The planning scheme also sets out how publicly-owned land managed by organisations such as the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) and Parks Victoria should be protected or used and developed.

The Regional Catchment Strategy

The Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 establishes a link between the Regional Catchment Strategy and the planning system. It states “An Authority that prepares a regional catchment strategy may recommend to a planning authority under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 amendments to a planning scheme to give effect to the strategy.”

The Victoria Planning Provisions further identify that a Regional Catchment Strategy is a policy document to be considered in matters of biodiversity protection (12.01-1S), erosion and landslip (13.04-2S, 44.01), salinity (13.04.3S), catchment planning and management (14.02-1S) and rural zones (35.03, 59.12, 59.13).

However, these are not necessarily obvious links for planners and in practice there has been limited application of such provisions over the past 20+ years and therefore limited influence of the Regional Catchment Strategy in planning processes. Further, the Regional Catchment Strategy is developed for use by audiences far broader than statutory and strategic planners and, as a result, it contains a great deal of information that is not necessarily relevant for planners to make local decisions and it is not set out in a structure that aligns with the order in which planners make decisions. 

Strengthening the links and making it easier for planners

The guidance below provides ‘shortcuts’ for planners to identify:

  • What sections of the Regional Catchment Strategy provide regional-scale information and targets that should be considered when a strategic planner is developing local policy and planning or dealing with major applications
  • What sections and targets of the Regional Catchment Strategy should be considered when a statutory planner is dealing with a planning permit application for development or use that is relevant to natural resource management in this region.