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The SDAPP Program refers to the consistent inclusion of key environmental performance considerations into the planning permit approvals process in order to achieve more sustainable outcomes for the long-term benefit of the wider community.

Background

Local governments have identified a clear need to improve outcomes in environmentally sustainable design (ESD) through their planning processes. A core group of councils has been working to improve planning processes that deliver environmental sustainability outcomes. This group of councils is called the Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE) and have developed a broad program called 'Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process' (SDAPP).

Role of local governments

This program recognises the role of local governments as a statutory authority and seeks to assist all local governments to be streamlined and consistent in requesting improved environmental outcomes – through the planning process.

These considerations are continually maintained and refined by CASBE to ensure they continue to be consistent with and, where possible, build upon existing minimum performance standards as stated within the Victorian planning and building schemes.

Referral Triggers

Councils may have different referral triggers that determine if a planning application is “eligible” to participate in the SDAPP Program. These can range from only large-scale developments to situations where all works exceeding 50m2 are eligible. In order to assess applications, councils ask that applicants provide information on the sustainable design initiatives through the lodgement of a Sustainable Design Assessment (a short report outlining sustainable design initiatives catering small and medium sized applications) or a Sustainability Management Plan (a more detailed report catering for larger applications). Regional, rural, peri-urban and growth area councils are currently considering their own assessment requirements based on their development context. The following sustainable design elements form part of a sustainable design assessment (SDA) or sustainability management plan (SMP) under the SDAPP Program:

  • Indoor Environment Quality
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Water Resources
  • Stormwater Management
  • Building Materials
  • Transport
  • Waste Management
  • Urban Ecology
  • Innovation
  • Ongoing building and site management

 

Proportional Expectations

All submissions under SDAPP are considered in the context of the development and specific permit application. A Council should always have proportional expectations for documentation and environmental performance that are reasonable in each context.

SDAPP in practice

The process is currently operating in a number of Victorian councils in general accordance with the diagram shown below. As part of the SDAPP Roll-out project, slight variations on the model outlined below are being considered to enable the process to be tailored to each council development context, including regional, rural, peri-urban and growth area councils.  

Download a flowchart detailing a typical SDAPP process (PDF, 142KB)

 

Sustainable Design Assessment Tools (STEPS & SDS)

To facilitate the SDAPP Program, two self-assessment tools, STEPS & SDS, have been developed for use by applicants to demonstrate ESD initiatives. Both these tools are free and available for anyone anywhere to use, with a compliant STEPS or Sustainable Design Scorecard (SDS) assessment report used to support a Sustainable Design Assessment of Sustainable Management Plan. 

STEPS is a web-based tool used to assess residential developments, while the Sustainable Design Scorecard (SDS) is an Excel-based tool used for non-residential developments.

Both tools are available from the STEPS website.

The SDAPP Program refers to the consistent inclusion of key environmental performance considerations into the planning permit approvals process in order to achieve more sustainable outcomes for the long-term benefit of the wider community.

About SDAPP

Local governments have identified a clear need to improve outcomes in environmentally sustainable design (ESD) through their planning processes. A core group of councils has been working to improve planning processes that deliver environmental sustainability outcomes. This group of councils is called the Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE) and have developed a broad program called 'Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process' (SDAPP). Find out more on our  About SDAPP page.

SDAPP Roll-out Project

In partnership with the Moreland City Council, MEFL is working with 16 local councils improve outcomes in environmentally sustainable design assessment as part of the planning process. The 18 month project is funded through the Victorian Local Sustainability Accord. Find out more on our Roll-out Project page.

CASBE

The Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE) is a collection of Victorian municipal governments committed to the creation of a more sustainable built environment both within and beyond their municipalities. Find out more on our CASBE page.

SDAPP Councils

There are a large number of metropolitan municipalities who have either adopted or are in the process of adopting the SDAPP program. These include pioneer councils that have been using the program and tools since 2005 right through to the increasing number of councils currently piloting or investigating the program in view of adoption into their planning processes. Find out more on our SDAPP Councils page.

SDAPP Implementation

As part of the SDAPP Rollout Project, the project team has developed an SDAPP Implementation Plan tailored to each council type in order to ensure that the benefits of the program are available to growth area, peri-urban, regional and rural councils as well as inner-city and middle ring metropolitan councils. Whilst there are many aspects that will be the same or similar, others will be tailored to the specific development context.

Professional Development

There are a number of professional development modules available for councils and applicants who are participants in the SDAPP program. This includes an introductory session for council officers on the fundamentals of the SDAPP program and training for council officers and the development industry in the STEPS and SDS assessment tools. Find out more on our Professional Development page.

Industry Feedback

The success of the SDAPP program relies on positive engagement with the development industry. This page has been set up to allow feedback  on the SDAPP program itself and to log any issues or comments relating to the STEPS and SDS tools. Find out more on our Industry Feedback page.

Resources

Building on a number of existing resources the SDAPP Rollout project team have developed a number of resources, templates and examples to assist councils with the implementation and continual improvement of the program. Find out more on our  Resources page.

Contacts

The project team and CASBE coordinator are available to assist you with your SDAPP query. Find out more on our  Contacts page.

There are a number of staff available to assist you with your SDAPP query.

SDAPP Project Coordinator, Gavin Ashley

For any query related to the SDAPP program or the SDAPP Roll-out Project please contact Gavin at Moreland Energy Foundation

ESD Technical Officer, Matt Sullivan

If you have a technical query relating to ESD assessment in your council or the use of the STEPS or SDS tools please contact Matt at Moreland Energy Foundation

Acting CASBE Coordinator, Naree Atkinson

If you have a query relating to CASBE please contact Naree Atkinson by email on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

In partnership with the Moreland City Council, MEFL is working with 16 local councils improve outcomes in environmentally sustainable design in land use planning.

Expanding on our experience delivering training in sustainable design assessment in the planning process (SDAPP), MEFL is developing an implementation framework and supporting councils to implement SDAPP into their planning operations through the SDAPP Roll-out Project.

Gavin Ashley joined the MEFL team in December 2010 to coordinate the SDAPP project and Matt Sullivan joined the SDAPP Rollout Project in March 2011 as the ESD Technical Officer.

The 18 month project is funded through the Victorian Local Sustainability Accord. Other partner councils include:

  • City of Ballarat
  • Bayside City Council
  • Banyule City Council
  • City of Boroondara
  • Shire of Campaspe
  • City of Darebin
  • City of Greater Dandenong
  • City of Manningham
  • Maroondah City Council
  • Mornington Peninsula Shire
  • Nillumbik Shire Council
  • City of Port Phillip
  • City of Stonnington
  • Swan Hill Rural City Council
  • Rural City of Wangaratta
  • City of Whittlesea
  • City of Yarra

Project Objectives

  1. Improve consistency across all councils through formalising a model for incorporating sustainable design assessment into planning processes that is consistent, streamlined and effective.
  2. Increase integration of ESD initiatives early in the planning permit phase.
  3. Develop a suite of implementation options for growth, peri-urban, regional and rural councils, based on a strong understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by each of these council types. The implementation options will be trialled through implementing relevant options in pilot councils. Preferred options for future use by councils across Victoria will also be provided.
  4. Build a critical mass of councils requesting streamlined and standard sustainable design information at the planning stage to create a consistent approach amongst councils and enhance industry certainty and capacity to implement.
  5. Build industry acceptance and capacity through engagement and training.
  6. Improve local government capacity to assess and engage the development industry in meeting community sustainability objectives.
  7. Enhance state and local government planning relationships with a common approach to achieving local and state sustainability visions, objectives and targets.
  8. Share knowledge amongst local governments who are involved in incorporating sustainability in the planning process. Resources developed as a result of this project will improve access for all Victorian local governments to support material.
  9. Provide confidence and evidence for future state government policy and regulation developments.

Methods

These objectives will be achieved through a number of methods, which include a metropolitan and non-metro rollout component as part of a strategy that provides for flexibility within the process to cater for the differing needs of all Victorian councils.

The development industry will also be engaged through dedicated information sessions and targeted communication to ensure councils and applicants can work together to facilitate more sustainable built form outcomes.

An important aspect of the project is to assist in building capacity within the partner councils (in regard to resourcing and in house knowledge) to allow for SDAPP to continue following the project's conclusion.

The Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE) is a collection of Victorian municipal governments committed to the creation of a more sustainable built environment both within and beyond their municipalities. The Alliance originally formed around the joint implementation, promotion and support of the Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) program.

The SDAPP Program currently operates in 11 Victorian local governments.  Approximately 15 other councils have expressed interest in being involved or are currently works towards implementing SDAPP. The collection of participating councils from both urban and rural areas forms CASBE.

To facilitate a greater uptake of SDAPP throughout Victoria, CASBE provides support through Council briefings, resources, one-on-one support, example documentation, officer and industry training, and regular CASBE meetings, all included within a network of committed local government representatives. While the primary role of CASBE is related to the SDAPP program, the Alliance has also provided assistance to Councils in incorporating ESD into Council-managed buildings and capital works projects. Where further opportunities are identified, CASBE will assess its role and ability to assist in line with the groups' vision, strategic directions and resource.

If you have a query relating to CASBE, or would like to discuss becoming a CASBE member contact Naree Atkinson by email on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

There are a number of professional development modules available for councils and applicants who are participants in the SDAPP program.

Introduction to Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process

This professional development module provides a comprehensive introduction to Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP) program. Designed for council professionals who have begun to use the SDAPP program on a regular basis (or will in the near future), the module focuses on the practical operation of the program from the council perspective.

Read more about this in our professional development section

STEPS and SDS assessment tools (Industry)

This practical hands-on workshop is designed for building design professionals who will be using the STEPS and SDS tools to assess buildings and developments. The workshop illustrates the changing landscape and the need to rethink the standard approach to building design and the planning process. Participants will learn how to use the STEPS and SDS tools to assess the environmental performance of residential and non-residential buildings and have the opportunity to work through case studies to consolidate their skills.

Read more about this in our professional development section

STEPS and SDS assessment tools (Local Government)

This session will introduce the context and tools that support the Sustainable Design in the Planning Process (SDAPP). It is designed specifically for Council practitioners to provide an understanding of SDAPP and the importance of this program to Councils, residents, developers and other stakeholders.

Read more about this in our professional development section

Passive design and thermal performance

Gain a practical understanding of passive design principles - the starting point for any sustainable building. This course examines easy to implement design considerations applicable to renovations and new builds.

Participants will be informed of key trends nationally and internationally that will influence building standards in the next 5 years including requirements for the mandatory disclosure of energy performance and leading edge European Passiv Haus standards.

 Read more about this in our professional development section.

Other courses

Moreland Energy Foundation also has a number of other professional development opportunities which may be of interest to local government professionals and members of the development industry. For more information visit our professional development section.

There are a large number of metropolitan municipalities who have adopted the SDAPP program. Clicking on the council links will allow you to directly access each council's SDAPP information including their own technical resources and templates. Additional resources, templates and examples are available on the resources page. The early adopters of the program between 2005 and 2007 include:

Moreland City Council
City of Port Phillip
City of Darebin

    Between 2007 and 2010, several new municipalities have adopted the program. These include;

    Hobsons Bay Council
    City of Yarra
    Bayside City Council
    Knox City Council
    City of Kingston

      A number of additional Councils are either trialling the program or are currently formalising it into their planning processes. These councils include;

      Whitehorse City Council
      City of Ballarat
      City of Manningham
      City of Stonnington
      City of Greater Dandenong
      Maribyrnong City Council
      Moonee Valley City Council

        Additional metro councils and some rural and regional councils are investigating the use of SDAPP in their municipality either through the SDAPP Rollout project. The growing list of councils who have adopted the program has created an expectation within the development industry that ESD information be provided and assessed as part of the planning process. Where information on ESD is provided, but no assessment framework is in place, adoption of the SDAPP program and employment of an ESD Officer will enable Council to provide a framework for assessing the information and working with applicants to improve sustainable design outcomes.

        The success of the SDAPP program depends on ongoing engagement with the development industry (including ESD consultants) as active participants in the program.

        To feed into continual improvement of both the SDAPP program and the STEPS and SDS tools themselves, the SDAPP councils and project team welcomes feedback. This gives members of the development industry an opportunity to provide general feedback on the program and the tools, noting feedback on individual applications should be directed to the relevant council.

        If you would like to record feedback about the program or the self-assessment tools please fill out the form below. Evaluation of the feedback takes place periodically by the project team and assists in steering both the direction of the SDAPP Rollout Project, future CASBE work and updates to the STEPS and SDS tools. While the majority of program information is available either on the About SDAPP or Resources pages, for questions or further information requests please contact the SDAPP team via our Contacts page.

        The SDAPP team is also interested in developing case studies for successful projects that have been through the SDAPP program. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like your project considered.

        This section provides information on how to implement the SDAPP framework in your municipality. Not all Victorian councils are the same, and that there are a number of differing priorities, resource capabilities and development contexts across Victoria. The SDAPP framework needs to be sufficiently flexible to cater for these differences. To date the framework has been primarily adopted by inner and middle Melbourne municipalities, municipalities which see similar and generally larger development types than outer metropolitan, regional and rural councils.

        Implementation for all

        As part of the SDAPP Rollout Project, the project team has developed an SDAPP Implementation Plan tailored to each council type in order to ensure that the benefits of the program are available to growth area, peri-urban, regional and rural councils as well . Whilst there are many aspects that will be the same or similar, others will be tailored to the specific development context.

        Council types

        Inner city and middle-ring councils

        Inner city and middle ring councils are home to the majority of established area development within Victoria and are characterised by a wide variety of development which is generally of greater density than outer-metropolitan, regional and rural councils. State government forecasts predict that nearly 50% of new dwellings and the majority of new retail and office buildings will be built in established urban areas to 2036 and therefore the environmental performance of these buildings are an important consideration of planning for Melbourne.

         

        New buildings in established areas generally require planning permits based on development type, heritage issues or lot size. This, combined with increased focus on sustainable buildings has led to widespread adoption of the SDAPP framework by the majority of councils in this council category.

        The major considerations of the Inner City and Middle Ring Councils SDAPP framework are;

        • The built environment is the significant determinant of energy and potable water use
        • Larger projects can absorb higher consulting costs at the planning stage
        • The popularity of the STEPS and SDS tools as a method for complying with the framework
        • Able to capture the majority of development through the planning process
        • Generally good resourcing capacity (at least for larger councils)
        • Generally good understanding of sustainable design by developers, buyers and tenants

        Download the  SDAPP Implementation Plan


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        Growth area councils

        Growth area councils are home to the majority of greenfield development in Victoria. The Victorian Government’s Melbourne @ 5 Million report projected a need for an additional 600,000 dwellings in Melbourne over the next 20 years, with 284,000 of those dwellings to be accommodated in the growth areas. There is a considerable pressure to maintain a significant land supply in view of housing affordability concerns. This rapid rate of growth needs to be matched with expanded public infrastructure (services, community buildings, transport) which in turn puts pressure on agricultural land, water quality and biodiversity conservation. Growth area planning has four distinct phases; corridor (or framework planning), precinct structure planning, subdivision planning and building. Local government planning processes include a role in the first three of these stages, but does not allow for assessment of individual dwellings, so approaches which focus on the first three steps represent the key planning opportunities for improvement in greenfield development. Some town centre and employment development is occurring, however nearly 95% of development in growth areas does not require a planning permit.

        The major considerations of the Growth Area Councils SDAPP framework are;

        • Unprecedented growth in green field development which complements some town centre and employment area development
        • Opportunity to integrate with precinct structure and subdivision planning to influence dwellings which do not require a planning permit for works
        • Factoring in energy consumption as a significant contribution to housing affordability
        • Identifying the opportunity to use precinct wide tools - eg suburb / precinct design guidelines for improving sustainability outcomes
        • The points of influence in urban planning and energy planning processes and opportunities to influence developer decision-making

        Download the  SDAPP Implementation Plan

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        Peri-urban councils

        Peri-urban councils are characterised by their interface role between the city and the country and include a wide variety of development, generally on a small scale. Peri-urban councils are neither fully urban, nor fully rural and as such have a particular set of planning issues ranging from biodiversity protection to retention of quality agricultural land. Sustainable development takes on a broader definition in a peri-urban context and issues such as effluent discharge are central. In addition, one of the key challenges for the built environment is addressing a trend towards extremely large homes on lifestyle properties which have high embodied and operational energy requirements.

        The demand for lifestyle properties and the objective to protect the natural and visual environment are often at odds, meaning that planning overlays are heavily applied in peri-urban areas. This represents an opportunity for planning to address sustainable design in a greater number of buildings, given the increased proportion of single dwellings which require a planning permit, but must be part of a wider engagement strategy with the community on sustainability issues.

        The major considerations of the Peri-Urban Councils SDAPP framework are;

        • Sustainability assessment needs to be perceived by applicants as a service rather than a planning requirement
        • Managing the requirement for ongoing resources and the need for simplicity to administer and operate
        • Recognising the residential development context of predominantly renovators and new single builds
        • An opportunity to complement council’s sustainability education and awareness programs

         Download the  SDAPP Implementation Plan

         

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        Regional councils

        Regional councils share many structural elements of metropolitan, rural and growth area councils. As in growth areas, there is pressure to maintain a significant land supply in view of housing affordability concerns. Many of the biodiversity and agricultural issues which accompany growth area planning are also present. Environmental issues are high on the agenda generally; in particular regional councils such as Ballarat and Bendigo have undergone severe droughts in recent years. Although current supplies have recovered there is a need to factor in conservation of potable water as a core element of sustainable design - industrial areas represent a particularly good opportunity.

        Due to the smaller housing market, the diversity in housing product is limited and sustainability features are not always marketed as a point of difference. This means that regional councils needs to also focus on engagement and awareness to drive improvements in the overall environmental performance of residential housing. In a number of Victoria’s regional centres, heritage protection is considered a high priority. This represents both an opportunity and a challenge for in-fill development.

        The major considerations of the Regional Councils SDAPP framework are;

        • Influencing the growth area housing market without compromising affordability
        • Integrating with precinct structure planning and subdivision planning to influence dwellings which do not require a planning permit for construction
        • The need engage and incentivise participation to reach a greater number of developers / applicants
        • Being economical with its use of technical capacity

        Download the  SDAPP Implementation Plan


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        Rural councils

        The majority of non-metropolitan Victorian councils are considered rural. These areas are characterised by a broad spectrum of planning issues. These include those as diverse as connecting smaller or isolated settlements to reticulated services, water resource allocation and the appropriateness of housing on broad-hectare farming land where the holding is under the designated minimum lot size. The environmental performance of a dwelling is often a secondary concern and generally low overall growth rates indicate that a program supporting sustainable design assessment for new dwellings should complement improvements to existing housing through community sustainability education programs.

        Sustainability is a core objective of planning in rural Victorian councils, but the focus has traditionally been on land care, biodiversity, water resourcing and other related environmental issues. Awareness of built form sustainability issues is quite varied both within the small planning teams and the development industry more broadly.

        The major considerations of the Rural Councils SDAPP framework are;

        • Increasing general awareness of sustainable building design
        • Facilitating a regional approach which can share technical resources
        • Identifying achievable small steps
        • Showcasing examples of good and bad design
        • Concentrating on no-cost or low-cost recommendations to applicants
        • Assisting councils to lead by example with their own assets

        Download the  SDAPP Implementation Plan


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