This glossary is a guide to the VPA’s interpretation of commonly used planning terms*. A full list of sources can be found at the bottom of the page.

Commonly used planning terms:

20 minute neighbourhood:The 20-minute neighbourhood is all about ‘living locally’ and enabling people to meet most of their daily needs within a 20-minute return walk from home. Plan Melbourne 2017–2050 is the Victorian Government’s long-term planning strategy, guiding the way the city will grow and change to 2050. Plan Melbourne is supported by the principle of 20-minute neighbourhoods.


Active frontage: Building frontage which contains uses that promote activity and interaction with the street. For example cafes.

Active transport: Transport requiring physical activity, typically walking and cycling.

Activity centres:Activity centres are vibrant community hubs where people shop, work, meet, relax and often live. They range in size, from local neighbourhood shopping strips to centres that include universities and major regional shopping malls. Metropolitan Melbourne has a network of activity centres. This network is defined within Plan Melbourne and is classified into 3 main types – Metropolitan activity centres, Major activity centres and Neighbourhood activity centres.

Adaptability: Design of buildings to serve different uses over time in response to changing demands for space.

Affordable housing:From 1 June 2018, the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (the Act) included an objective ‘to facilitate the provision of affordable housing in Victoria.’ Affordable housing is housing, including social housing, that is appropriate for the needs of very low-, low- and moderate-income households. A Governor in Council Order forms part of the definition of affordable housing under the Act. The Order specifies the income ranges for very low, low and moderate-income households for affordable housing that is not social housing. A Ministerial Notice specifies matters relevant to determining whether affordable housing is appropriate.

Agglomeration: The location of businesses in close proximity to each other, which allows them to get productivity and efficiency gains through large customer bases, knowledge sharing and access to skilled workers.

Amenity: The pleasant or satisfactory aspects of a location which contribute to its overall character and the enjoyment of residents or visitors. May include access to services and well-designed public spaces.

Apartment: A dwelling located above the ceiling level or below the floor level of another dwelling and is part of a building containing two or more dwellings.

Approval date: The date a planning scheme began, or the date of notice in the Victoria Government Gazette of approval of an amendment to a scheme.

Arterial Road: A higher order road providing for moderate to high volumes at relatively higher speeds typically used for inter-suburban or inter-urban journeys, often linking to freeways. The Road Management Act 2004 includes a specific definition of arterial roads, being “a road which is declared to be an arterial road under section 14”. Declared arterial roads are managed by the State Government.


Biodiversity: The variety of all life forms, the different plants, animals and microorganisms, the genes they contain and the ecosystems of which they form a part.

Brownfield: A term used for land and developments where the site is in an established urban area but the original industrial use is no longer suitable to today’s needs or demands, e.g. Altona North. Note: Brownfield sites might have experienced some form of environmental contamination.

Budget: An estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time. Also, a State or Local Government budget is a formal annual financial statement presenting the government’s proposed revenues and spending for a financial year.

Building height: The vertical distance from natural ground level to the roof or parapet at any point.

Built form: The combination of features of a building, including its style, façade treatments, height and site coverage.


Carbon footprint: A measure of the greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of an individual, company, city or country.

Central Business District (CBD):  Melbourne’s original ‘Hoddle Grid’ street layout bounded by the Yarra River, Spring Street, La Trobe Street and Spencer Street, as well as the triangular area to the north bounded by Victoria, Peel and La Trobe streets.

Central city: The area within the inner region that contains key capital city functions and civic facilities, as well as several precincts identified for major and strategic change. It is a larger area than the Melbourne CBD.

Chair: The person in charge of a meeting or of an organisation (chairman or chairwoman).

Climate change: A long-term change of the earth’s temperature and weather patterns, generally attributed directly or indirectly to human activities such as fossil fuel combustion and vegetation clearing and burning.

Climate change adaptation: Actions that prevent or minimise the adverse impacts of climate change.

Climate change mitigation: Actions that prevent or reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

Community engagement:  Community engagement is a planned process with the specific purpose of working across organisations, stakeholders and communities to shape the decisions or actions of member of the community, stakeholders or organisation in relation to a problem, opportunity or outcome.

Community facilities: Infrastructure provided by government or non-government organisations for accommodating a range of community support services, programs and activities. This includes facilities for education and learning; early years health and community services; community arts and culture; sport, recreation and leisure; justice; voluntary and faith and emergency services. For example: kindergarten & libraries.

Community housing: Refers to a type of social housing run by not-for-profit social housing. Community housing offers secure, affordable, rental housing for people on very low to moderate income households with a housing need.

Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP): An alternative to a structure plan. A CDP ensures the future development of strategic sites is undertaken in a coordinated way, the preparation of a CDP will be required prior to any land rezoning. The plan will address land use, built form, landscaping, transport and access, drainage and other infrastructure requirements to support the delivery of staged development. A CDP is incorporated in the Planning Scheme through the application of a Comprehensive Development Zone (CDZ). CDPs and the CDZ are most commonly applied to large or complex developments. This differs from a structure plan which generally applies a range of planning controls including a mix of zones and overlays.

Comprehensive Development Zone (CDZ): The CDZ is a planning tool that formalises the allowable uses within the precinct to ensure any development of land is in accordance with the CDP. The CDZ is found in the Planning Scheme.

Council: A body of people elected to manage the affairs of a particular area – there are 79 councils in Victoria, collectively these are often referred to as local government.


Delegation: Powers (for instance to make decisions or impose rules), which by instrument, may be passed to another person or body – for example, the Minister for Planning may delegate administration of planning schemes to the VPA.

Development Contributions Plan (DCP): Development contributions are payments or in-kind works, facilities or services provided by developers towards the supply of infrastructure required to meet the future needs of the community.

Development Plan: A long-term plan for urban development that describes how land is expected to be developed, how land uses may change over time and describes where and how services, utilities and transport infrastructure will support future development. 

Distributed energy: Electricity that is generated locally and fed back into the electricity distribution network.


Eastern Metropolitan Region: One of the six Melbourne Metropolitan regions. Includes the municipalities of Knox, Manningham, Maroondah, Monash, Whitehorse and Yarra Ranges.

Ecosystem services: The benefits people obtain from healthy ecosystems. These include provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as flood and disease control; cultural services such as spiritual, recreational, and cultural benefits; and supporting services such as nutrient cycling that maintain the conditions for life on earth.

Established urban areas: Areas of a city or town that have been urbanised for at least several decades or have been fully developed.


Fine-grain: an urban environment with human scale spaces, mixed uses, relatively narrow street frontages and through block links, to foster diverse activities and walkability.

 Framework Plan: High level coordinating plan which sets policy direction (vision) and spatial structure for a growth area, urban renewal precinct, cluster, or regional city. A Framework Plan:

  • Sets out the future vision for a defined area
  • Guides sustainable growth development over the longer term
  • Identifies the steps needed to manage growth
  • Defines key projects and infrastructure required to support growth and
  • Provides a more certain environment for making both public and private investment decision

Freight Activity Centres (FAC): The term Freight Activity Centre defines a key node where intense freight and logistics activity takes place. These centres may include ports, airports, rail yards, inter-modal terminals, manufacturing activity, warehouses and distribution centres.

Frontage: The road alignment at the front of a lot. If a lot abuts two or more roads, the one to which the building, or proposed building, faces.

Future Urban Structure (FUS): Future urban structure refers to future intended disposition of land use, build form and infrastructure.


Gazette/al: The Victoria Government Gazette provides official notification of decisions or actions taken by, or information from, the Governor of Victoria, Government Authorities, Government Departments, Local Councils, companies and individuals.  Planning decisions such as ministerial approval of amendments to planning schemes are published in the Victorian Government Gazette. For more, please see

Greater Melbourne Capital City Statistical Area: An Australian Bureau of Statistics standard statistical definition that differs from the boundary of Melbourne as used in Plan Melbourne. It represents the functional extent of the city, including people who live within the urban area of the city as well as people who regularly socialise, shop or work within the city, but live in small towns and rural areas surrounding the city. It extends as far as Bacchus Marsh in the west, Lancefield and Kinglake to the north, and Warburton and Lang Lang in the east.

Green economy: An economy in which economic growth and the health of our natural resources sustain each other, and market, business and government better reflect the value of nature.

Greenfield land: Undeveloped land identified for residential or industrial/commercial development, generally on the fringe of metropolitan Melbourne.

Greenhouse gas emissions: Atmospheric gas that absorbs and emits infrared or heat radiation, giving rise to the greenhouse effect. Typical greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and refrigerants.

Green wedges: Defined under Part 3AA of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 as ‘land that is described in a metropolitan fringe planning scheme as being outside an urban growth boundary’. There are 12 defined green wedges spanning parts of 17 municipalities.

Gross developable area: Total precinct area excluding encumbered land, arterial roads and other roads with four or more lanes.

Melbourne’s growth areas: Areas on the fringe of metropolitan Melbourne around major regional transport corridors that are designated for large-scale change, over many years from rural to urban use. Melbourne has seven growth areas – Cardinia, Casey, Hume, Melton, Mitchell, Whittlesea and Wyndham.

Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution Work-In-Kind agreement (GAIC WIK): An agreement between a person liable to pay GAIC and the Minister for Planning. Under a WIK the liable person agrees that they will provide land and/or works (construction of state infrastructure), instead of a cash payment, to meet the whole or part of their GAIC liability.  

Growth Corridor Plans: Government document that sets long-term strategic planning direction to guide the creation of a more sustainable community in the growth areas.


Health and education precincts: Locations to cluster synergistic health and/or education services to improve access to integrated service provision, improve outcomes, develop the health and education workforce and deliver economic benefits (such as innovation and job creation). These precincts may provide solely health, solely education, or a combination of health and education services.

Hoddle Grid: The grid pattern of streets making up Melbourne’s CBD bounded by the Yarra River, Spring Street, La Trobe Street and Spencer Street, as well as the triangular area to the north bounded by Victoria, Peel and La Trobe streets. The grid was designed by Robert Hoddle in 1837.

Housing density: The number of dwellings in an urban area divided by the area of the residential land they occupy, expressed as dwellings per hectare.

Human scale: The proportional relationship of the physical environment (such as buildings, trees, roads) to human dimensions. Maintaining a human scale means that structures are not perceived as overwhelming at ground level and urban environments are highly walkable.


Infrastructure: Basic facilities and networks (e.g. buildings, roads, and utilities) needed for the functioning of a local community or broader society. Infrastructure can be provided by the private sector (local roads, childcare, shopping centres), or by Government (Kindergartens, schools, railways).

Infrastructure Contributions Plan (ICP): Infrastructure contributions help fund essential works and services for new communities.

Infrastructure Growth Alignment Framework (IGAF): Identifies where a city/region has the capacity to accommodate development that can be serviced by existing or known future infrastructure delivery. It supports forward planning and development sequencing by state and local government agencies through improved forecasting for population growth and future residents’ needs. 

Inner Region: Includes the municipalities of Melbourne, Port Phillip and Yarra City.

Inner South East Region: Includes the municipalities of Bayside, Boroondara, Glen Eira and Stonnington.

Integrated Water Management (IWM): An approach to planning that brings together all facets of the water cycle including sewage management, water supply, stormwater management and water treatment, ensuring environmental, economic and social benefits.

Intermodal freight terminal: A location for the transfer of freight from one transport mode to another, for example between road and rail.


Knowledge and innovation economies: Production and services based on knowledge-intensive activities that contribute to an accelerated pace of technical and scientific advancement. Their key characteristic is a greater reliance on intellectual capabilities than on physical inputs or natural resources.


Land capability assessment: The assessment of the physical ability of the land to sustain specific uses having regard to its management, and without long term on-site detriment to the environment.

Liveability: A measure of a city’s residents’ quality of life, used to benchmark cities around the world. It includes socioeconomic, environmental, transport and recreational measures.

Local government: Interchangeable with council

Local Government Area (LGA): There are 79 LGAs in Victoria over which incorporated local governing bodies (councils) have responsibility.

Localised planning statement: Long-term policies for the future planning and development of areas identified as having significance to the broader Victorian community.

Local town centre: Town centres that are an important community focal point and have a mix of uses to meet local needs. Accessible to a viable user population by walking, cycling and by local bus services and public transport links to one or more principal or major town centres. This should be of sufficient size to accommodate a supermarket.

Lot: A part (consisting of one or more pieces) of any land (except a road, a reserve, or common property) shown on a plan, which can be disposed of separately and includes a unit or accessory unit on a registered plan of strata subdivision and a lot or accessory lot on a registered cluster plan.

Low-carbon city: A city based on low-carbon power sources that has a minimal output of greenhouse gas emissions.


Main Street: A function of an activity centre, where vitality and activity are created by orienting uses towards the street, and ensuring that the primary address of all retail stores is the street. This would normally be a connector street rather than an arterial road.

Major activity centres: Suburban centres that provide access to a wide range of goods and services. They have different attributes and provide different functions, with some serving larger subregional catchments. Plan Melbourne identifies 121 major activity centres.

Master plan: A plan that directs how a single site of landholding or a cluster of related sites will be developed. It may include direction on traffic movements, allocation of spaces, and provision of open space and key facilities. It is usually more detailed than a structure plan.

Metropolitan activity centres: Higher-order centres intended to provide a diverse range of jobs, activities and housing for regional catchments that are well served by public transport. These centres will play a major service delivery role, including government, health, justice and education services, as well as retail and commercial opportunities. Existing centres, under Plan Melbourne include Box Hill, Broadmeadows, Dandenong, Epping, Footscray, Fountain Gate/Narre Warren, Frankston, Ringwood and Sunshine. Future centres will include Lockerbie and Toolern.

Metropolitan Melbourne: The area covered by the Banyule, Bayside, Boroondara, Brimbank, Cardinia, Casey, Darebin, Frankston, Glen Eira, Greater Dandenong, Hobsons Bay, Hume, Kingston, Knox, Manningham, Maribyrnong, Maroondah, Melbourne, Melton, Monash, Moonee Valley, Moreland, Mornington Peninsula, Nillumbik, Port of Melbourne, Port Phillip, Stonnington, Whitehorse, Whittlesea, Wyndham, Yarra and Yarra Ranges Planning Schemes and the area within the urban growth boundary in the Mitchell Planning Scheme.

Metro Tunnel: The Melbourne Metro Tunnel is a project including the delivery of five new underground stations. New high capacity trains will run through the Metro Tunnel, freeing up more trains across the Melbourne rail network.

Mixed-use: encourages a mixture of different land uses, retail, commercial and residential in the same location or building. To facilitate diversity of land use, group multiple activities and provide longevity of interaction beyond the traditional 9am – 5pm.

Mixed-use precinct: A ‘mixed-use’ precinct is an area that has a variety of uses. For example: housing, commercial, a town centre and community facilities. The term mixed use can also include mixing uses between buildings (e.g. shops next to flats) or within buildings (e.g. shop on top of housing).

Mixed Use Zone: This zone provides for a range of residential, commercial, industrial and other uses and is suitable for areas with a mixed use character. A schedule to the zone may specify maximum building heights and local requirements for specified clause 54 and clause 55 dwelling standards.

Municipality: A town or district that has a local government. Usually administered by a Council.


National employment and innovation clusters (NEICs): There are seven NEICsidentified in Plan Melbourne which will be a focus for jobs growth and strategic infrastructure investment to help expand employment opportunities. NEICs have a strong core of nationally significant knowledge sector businesses and institutions that make a major contribution to the national economy and Melbourne’s positioning in the global economy.

Native vegetation: Plants that are indigenous to Victoria, including trees, shrubs, herbs, and grasses.

Natural hazard: A natural event that has potential to cause harm to people, property or the environment, including climate change, bushfire, flooding and sea level rise.

Neighbourhood activity centres: Local centres that provide access to local goods, services and employment opportunities and serve the needs of the surrounding community.

Net Developable Area: Land within a precinct available for development. This excludes encumbered land, arterial roads, railway corridors, significant heritage, schools and community facilities and public open space. It includes lots, local streets and connector streets. Net Developable Area may be expressed in terms of hectare units (i.e. NDHa).

Net Employment Area: Dedicated industrial/commercial areas, not including town centres.

Net Residential Area: As for Net Developable Area but excluding commercial/retail component of town centres and other existing or permitted non-residential land uses (e.g. golf course sites).

Northern Metropolitan Region: One of the six Melbourne Metropolitan regions. Includes the municipalities of Banyule, Darebin, Hume, Mitchell (part), Moreland, Nillumbik and Whittlesea.


Open space: Land that provides outdoor recreation, leisure and/or environmental benefits and/or visual amenity.

Overlay/s: An overlay is a state-standard provision, forming part of a suite of provisions in the Victoria Planning Provisions (VPP).  Each planning scheme includes only those overlays that are required to implement the strategy for its municipal district. Each overlay addresses a single issue or related set of issues (such as heritage, bushfire or flooding). The planning scheme maps identify land affected by overlays. Not all land is affected by an overlay, but where more than one issue applies to a parcel of land, multiple overlays can be used. Overlays must have a strategic justification and be linked to the Municipal Strategic Statement and local planning policy. Many overlays have schedules to specify local objectives and requirements. Many overlays set out requirements about development, not use. The requirements of an overlay apply in addition to the requirements of the zone. Neither is more important than the other. Overlays do not change the intent of the zone.


Peri-urban areas: Are beyond the green wedges and are made up of local government areas with a predominantly rural character, located all or partially within a 100-kilometre radius of Melbourne.

Planning authority: A planning authority is any person or body given the power to prepare a planning scheme or an amendment to a planning scheme. The Minister is a planning authority and may authorise any other Minister or public authority to prepare an amendment to a planning scheme. The Minister is also the planning authority for land not incorporated into any municipal district, such as land falling under the Alpine Resorts Planning Scheme, Port of Melbourne Planning Scheme, and the French Island and Sandstone Island Planning Scheme. A council is planning authority for its municipal district and for any area adjoining its municipal district for which the Minister authorises.

Plan Melbourne: Plan Melbourne 2017 – 2050 is a metropolitan planning strategy, by the State Government, that defines the future shape of the city and state over the next 35 years. Integrating long-term land use, infrastructure and transport planning, Plan Melbourne sets out the strategy for supporting jobs and growth, while building on Melbourne’s legacy of distinctiveness, liability and sustainability.

Planning Panels Victoria (PPV): A planning panel allows the public to participate in the planning and environmental decision making process. They independently assess planning proposals by considering submissions, conducting hearings and preparing reports. Planning panels are only advisors and make recommendations. The final decision is left to the appropriate statutory bodies, or the Minister for Planning. For more information, please see:

Planning permit: A Planning Permit is a legal document that gives a landowner permission to use or develop land in a certain way. It usually includes conditions and approved plans which must be complied with. The applicable Council is responsible for deciding on Planning Permit applications, unless the Minister for Planning appoints himself or herself as responsible authority.

A planning permit is issues under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 that allows a certain use or development to occur on a particular parcel of land – usually subject to conditions. Council planners can provide advice on whether a planning permit is required and why. A planning permit ensures that:

  • land uses are appropriately located
  • buildings and land uses do not conflict with each other
  • the character of an area is not detrimentally affected
  • development will not detrimentally affect the environment
  • places of heritage significance are not detrimentally altered or demolished.

A planning permit should not be confused with a building permit.

A building permit is a legal document, issues before construction commences, to ensure the building meets the minimum requirements for the health safety and amenity of occupants and the public. Building is concerned with safe construction practices, and considers whether the construction work conforms to buildings regulations, the Buildings Code of Australia and relevant Australian standards.

Planning scheme: A document approved by the Victorian Government, outlines objectives, policies and controls for the use, development and protection of land for each municipality across Victoria.

A planning scheme controls land use and development within a municipal district. It contains state and local planning policies, zones and overlays and other provisions that affect how land can be used and developed. Each planning scheme consists of maps and an ordinance containing planning provisions. The planning scheme is a statutory document and each municipality in the state is covered by one.

Planning scheme amendment:  Changes to the planning scheme are called amendments and the process is set out in the Planning and Environment Act 1987. An amendment may involve a change to a planning scheme map (for example: a rezoning), a change to the written part of the scheme, or both.

Post-PSP approvals: The subdivision approvals required by various authorities to allow a Certificate of Title to be issues for a parcel of land. In Melbourne’s Growth Areas, subdivision processes follow after the completion of a Precinct Structure Plan.

Precinct Infrastructure Plan: Section within the precinct structure plan that defines the priority regional and local infrastructure requirements for future planning and investment by council and government agencies. It also gives an indication of the priority of infrastructure delivery in the short, medium and long-term.

Precinct Structure Plan (PSP): A high-level strategic plan that sets out the preferred spatial location of key land uses and infrastructure to guide decisions on staging of development, subdivision permits, building permits and infrastructure delivery. Once prepared, PSPs are incorporated documents in the planning scheme.

Principal Freight Network (PFN): The Principal Freight Network is the part of the larger transport network over which the movement of heavy freight will be concentrated. This will be achieved by upgrading the capacity of the network to move freight and by ensuring that the network is managed to reduce freight travel time and increase the reliability of freight movement.

Principal Public Transport Network (PPTN): The PPTN is a statutory land use planning tool that supports integrated land use and transport planning by providing certainty to planners and the community about locations that are, or will be, served by high-quality public transport. The PPTN reflects the network of current and committed high-quality public transport services. It is designed to support integrated transport and land use planning, by encouraging more diverse and dense development near high-quality public transport to help support public transport usage.

Privacy Act: The Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) is an Australian law which regulates the handling of personal information about individuals. Personal information is information or an opinion about an identified individual, or an individual who is reasonably identifiable.

Public housing: Housing owned and managed by the state . The government provides public housing to eligible Victorians including people who are unemployed, on low incomes, live with a disability or a mental illness or who are at risk of homelessness.

Public realm: Incorporates all areas freely accessible to the public, including parks, plazas, streets and laneways.

Public transport interchange: Places where people can access or change between multiple public transport routes and modes. For example, between train and bus or a multi-route bus station at a major activity centre.


Ramsar wetlands: Wetlands listed as internationally significant under the Convention on Wetlands held in Ramsar, Iran in 1971.

Regional Growth Plans: Plans providing a broad regional planning direction for land use and development across eight regions in Victoria, developed through partnerships between local governments and state agencies and authorities.

Regional Victoria: Includes all municipalities outside metropolitan Melbourne (except part of Mitchell Shire within the urban growth boundary).

Renewable energy: Energy that comes from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat.

Renewal Strategy: A document that outlines strategy for future development of an urban place. 

Residential Zones: Land that is suitable primarily for residential purposes is generally included in one of the three residential zones – the Neighbourhood Residential Zone, the General Residential Zone, or the Residential Growth Zone.

The Neighbourhood Residential Zone provides for limited development to land in established areas that has been identified as having specific neighbourhood, heritage, environmental or landscape character values that distinguish the land from other parts of the municipality or surrounding area.

The General Residential Zone is applied to land in areas where growth and housing diversity is anticipated. It is expected that the type of housing provided will evolve over time to provide more diverse forms of housing, but not at the expense of existing open garden character.

The Residential Growth Zone is applied to land identified as suitable for increased residential development, such as urban renewal sites, and locations offering good access to services and transport These areas include activity centres and town centres.

Resilience: The capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, systems and infrastructure to survive, adapt and grow, in response to challenges. Melbourne has been listed as a member of the 100 Resilient Cities network. More information of 100 resilient city can be found here: .

Resource recovery: Extraction of useful material or energy from a waste stream.

Responsible authority: the decision maker on planning permit applications – usually the relevant municipal Council but in some situations, could be the VPA.


Schedules: Together with the Local Planning Policy Framework (LPPF), schedules are the means of including local content in planning schemes. They are used to supplement the basic provisions of a state-standard clause, zone or overlay in a planning scheme, adapting it to local circumstances and locally defined objectives. This means that schedules are a key tool for implementing objectives and strategies in the MSS. A schedule can only be included where the relevant VPP provision provides for it. A schedule must use the format shown in the Ministerial Direction on the Form and Content of Planning Schemes. For more information on schedules refer to Planning Practice Note No. 10 – Writing Schedules.

Secondary dwelling: An additional self-contained dwelling developed on the same land as the principal dwelling.

Setback: The horizontal distance from a boundary or building.

Shared or joint use: When councils, schools and community service organisations come together to plan, build and in some cases jointly manage a single facility to be used by multiple service providers. E.g. using a school as a facility for wider community utilisation.

Shared path: An off-road path for cycling and walking.

Social housing: Non-profit housing owned and managed for the primary purpose of meeting social objectives such as affordable rents, responsible management, security of tenure and good location in relation to employment services. The term encompasses public housing and includes housing owned or managed by housing associations and community housing.

Social infrastructure: Encompasses all the facilities, services and networks that help families, groups and communities to meet their social, health, education, cultural and community needs.

Solar access: Ability of a property, street or open space to receive sunlight.

Southern Metropolitan Region: One of the six Melbourne Metropolitan regions. Includes the municipalities of Cardinia, Casey, Frankston, Greater Dandenong, Kingston and Mornington Peninsula.

State-significant industrial precincts: Strategically located land available for major industrial development linked to the Principal Freight Network and transport gateways.

Statutory planning: The fundamental instrument for statutory planning is a planning scheme. Statutory planning is the process of decision making by way of planning permits for new use and development. It includes the preparation and implementation of planning provisions for the planning scheme.

Strategic planning: Strategic planning is the research and formulation of policies or strategies to implement goals and objectives relating to particular land uses or areas. Strategic planning also involves monitoring and evaluating the implications of the provisions on land use and development.

Streamlining for Growth (SfG): Through the SfG program, the VPA provided strategic planning support to 42 regional councils and 24 councils in metropolitan Melbourne. This program built capacity and capability within councils and streamlined planning process to facilitate faster (and more cost-effective) delivery of permit-ready employment and residential land across Victoria. The SfG program did not receive funding in the 2023/24 State Budget and ended on 30 June 2023.

Structure plan: A plan for implementing a framework or vision for a precinct. It may include proposed land zonings and building controls, plans for infrastructure provision, proposed development contributions, strategies for addressing issues such as drainage, and nominated sites for more detailed master planning.

Submissions:  Written correspondence opposing a planning scheme amendment. Any person who feels they may be affected by a planning scheme amendment can submit in writing to the planning authority, provided the required information is submitted within certain timeframes.

How to write a submission

Surplus government land: Sites identified as being surplus to government requirements.

Sustainable development: An approach to development that seeks to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It has economic, social and environmental dimensions.

Sustainable transport: Transport by modes other than single-occupancy cars. Includes walking, cycling, bus, tram, train and carpooling.


Topography: The arrangement of the natural and artificial physical features of an area.

Traditional Owners: People who, through membership of a descent group or clan, are responsible for caring for particular Country. A Traditional Owner is authorised to speak for Country and its heritage as a senior Traditional Owner, an Elder or, in more recent times, a registered native title claimant.

Transit-oriented development: Compact, walkable, mixed-use communities centred on high-quality public transport systems. Transit-oriented development assists in addressing the growing problems of climate change and global energy security by creating dense, walkable communities that greatly reduce the need for driving and energy consumption.

Transport gateway: Ports, airports and interstate terminals that serve as key locations for moving passengers and freight into and out of Victoria and also play a significant economic and employment-generating role.


Urban Design Framework (UDF): A strategic planning tool that sets out an integrated design vision for the desired future development of an urban place.

Urban forest: All of the trees and other vegetation in a city as well as the soil and water that supports it.

Urban greening: Growing plants wherever possible in cities to contribute to urban vegetation coverage, and providing a connection to nature.

Urban growth boundary (UGB):  The metropolitan strategy release in 2002 known as Melbourne 2030 established an urban growth boundary (UGB) around Melbourne to better manage outward expansion in a coordinated manner. The purpose of the UGB is to direct urban growth to areas best able to be supplied with appropriate infrastructure and services and protect other valuable peri-urban land (and environmental features) from urban development pressures.

The UGB applies around the urban areas of metropolitan Melbourne. More information can be found here: greenfield/more-information/urban-growth-boundary-key-facts/

Urban Growth Zone (UGZ): Statutory zone that applies to land that has been identified for future urban development, typically in Greenfields areas. The purpose of the UGZ is:

  • To implement the State Planning Policy Framework and the Local Planning Policy Framework, including the Municipal Strategic Statement and local planning policies.
  • To manage the transition of non-urban land into urban land in accordance with a precinct structure plan.
  • To provide for a range of uses and the development of land generally in accordance with a precinct structure plan.
  • To contain urban use and development to areas identified for urban development in a precinct structure plan.
  • To provide for the continued non-urban use of the land until urban development in accordance with a precinct structure plan occurs.
  • To ensure that, before a precinct structure plan is applied, the use and development of land does not prejudice the future urban use and development of the land.

Urban heat island effect: a localised heating effect in urban areas caused by a concentration of hard surfaces such as pavements, walls and roofs that retain heat and radiate it back into the environment

Urban renewal: refers to the large scale restoration and/or redevelopment of under-utilised urban areas. For more information see link.

Urban water cycle: The cycle of water through urban environments. Distinguished from the natural urban water cycle by the transfer of water through built infrastructure and the high run-off rates generated by impervious surfaces.


Value capture: Government capturing a portion of the incremental economic value created by government investments, activities and policies. These actions may generate alternative revenue streams, assets or other financial value for Government which could assist in funding those investments and activities.

Value creation: Delivering enhances public value, in terms of economic, social and environmental outcomes. This enhancement of public value is above and beyond what would ordinarily be achieved as a direct consequence of the relevant government investment.

Value uplift: The uplift in future economic and social value created by the construction of significant infrastructure or rezoning land. Value uplift is often referred to in the context of capturing some of the value to deliver broader public benefits.


Walkability: The degree to which an environment supports walking as a transport mode, for instance by providing frequents, safe and attractive paths that connect common trop origins and destinations. See 20 minute neighbourhood.

Water-sensitive urban design: Integrating the urban water cycle into urban design to minimise environmental damage and improve recreational and aesthetic outcomes.

Western Metropolitan Region: One of the six Melbourne Metropolitan regions. Includes the municipalities of Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Melton, Moonee Valley and Wyndham.


Zones: A planning scheme uses zones to designate land for particular uses, such as residential, industrial or business. A zone will have its own purpose and set of requirements. It will identify if a planning permit is required and the matters that must be considered before deciding to grant a permit.


  • Plan Melbourne 2017-2050
  • Arden Glossary
  • Clause 72 of the Victorian Planning Provisions
  • PSP guidelines
  • Planning Victoria Glossary
  • Oxford Dictionary
  • Small lot housing code

*Please note, this glossary aims to provide users with a clearer understanding of planning terms, but should be used as a guide only. The VPA takes no responsibility for incorrect interpretations or definitions of the above terms. Please see the VPA’s content disclaimer here.