Residential Zone Guidance: Applying Residential Planning Controls in the Context of Population Growth

Planning practice notes were released in December 2019 by the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) to guide Councils on how to plan for population growth and use the residential zones to implement strategic work.

These practice notes are supplementary to the existing suite of practice notes relating to residential development, prepared in the context of current population growth forecasts.  They are:

  • Planning Practice Note 90: ‘Planning for Housing’ (PPN90); and
  • Planning Practice Note 91: ‘Using the Residential Zones’ (PPN91).

They are helpful to Councils and other stakeholders to understand the key drivers affecting strategic planning and the statutory implementation of changes to policy and planning controls affecting residential property development in any planning scheme framework.

PPN 90 highlights the need to protect neighbourhood character when planning for housing growth in order to achieve a balanced approach to manage residential development.

PPN91 is to be read in conjunction with PPN90.  It focusses on how to use the residential zones and the local policies and overlays with these zones.  It follows reforms to the residential zones in 2017 and 2018 by amendments to the Victorian Planning Provisions (VPP), seeking to provide more certainty and consistency about housing growth and built form outcomes.

For residential property developers, other planning practice notes will also assist them to understand residential planning controls, how to prepare a planning permit application and the meaning of neighbourhood character (the combination of the public and private realms and how they come together and give an area a particular character).  For example:

  • Planning Practice Note 27: ‘Understanding the residential development standards’ (PPN27); and
  • Planning Practice Note 43: ‘Understanding neighbourhood character’ (PPN43)’.

PPN27 provides guidance on the consistent application of the residential development standards in clauses 54 and 55 of the VPP (ResCode) parts of which may be varied in any particular local planning scheme.  PPN27 assists in understanding how an applicant can meet the objectives in clauses 54 and 55, while also having regard to decision guidelines in the relevant planning scheme.

The planning practice notes published by DELWP are available on the DELWP website at

At Burke Lawyers, we pride ourselves on providing expert legal advice specifically tailored to assist you in all stages of the property development lifecycle.  We can assist by advising with all relevant aspects of planning, property, development and commercial matters.

Contact Kristy Muhlhan, Principal and Accredited Specialist, Property Law who heads our Property and Development Legal Team via our switchboard on +61 3 9822 8588 or email our team HERE to find out how we can help you.

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