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Urban Planning Regulations for Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) in Victoria: Beyond Building Controls

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Urban development has a significant role to play within the broader context of achieving ecologically sustainable development (ESD). In particular, adverse impacts caused by buildings are a major component of the overall ecological footprints of cities. The Australian state of Victoria does not have statutory planning instruments in which ESD assessment requirements for buildings are embedded, relying on building regulations alone. In the absence of state-wide regulatory controls, several local governments have implemented both voluntary and mandatory requirements for ESD assessment at the planning approval stage. This gives rise to an important question: should elements of these ESD assessment requirements developed and/or implemented by Victorian local governments be integrated into state-wide planning controls? In answering this, the study provides an overview of ESD considerations for built form in Victorian planning legislation. It also examines the approach of a number of local governments in Victoria that are using locally developed planning controls to set standards for the environmental performance of buildings. The discussion focuses on the results of the state planning policy analysis, evaluation of ESD assessment requirements implemented by local government and interviews with local government officers responsible for administering said requirements. The findings of the study show that inadequate attention has been given to the issue of environmental assessment of buildings through development control in Victoria. Local governments' experience in using development control to address ESD indicates that there is potential to extend these requirements state-wide. The article concludes with broad observations as to how green buildings could be better achieved through the planning permit process, via regulatory reform.
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Keywords: Ecologically sustainable development; building assessment tools; green buildings; role of urban planning; sustainable urban development

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Architecture, Building & Planning,University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Publication date: 2012-06-01

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