Pilot Second Dwelling Code

07 September 2020


On 27 August 2020, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning gazetted and introduced Amendment VC186 to the planning schemes of Greater Bendigo, Kingston, Moreland and Murrindindi, enabling a seven month pilot program of the Secondary Dwelling Code in these four municipalities.

What is the Secondary Dwelling Code?

The Secondary Dwelling Code (Code) is a code that is designed to facilitate the development of small-scale secondary dwellings such as “garden studios” or “granny flats” on the same lot as an existing principal dwelling. The development of secondary dwellings create flexible housing choices that may enable extended families to live together, couples to downsize or extra rental opportunities for the community.

The Code enables the construction of secondary dwellings in the Mixed Use, Township, Residential Growth, General Residential and Neighbourhood Residential Zones of each of the four municipalities participating in the pilot program.

Applications for a Secondary Dwelling Permit

Applications for a permit enabling the construction or extension of a secondary dwelling under the new Clause 51.06 will need to meet the following requirements.

Lot Requirements

Lots on which the secondary dwelling is to be constructed must:

  • Contain an existing (principal) dwelling;
  • Not contain an existing dependent person’s unit, a dwelling already approved under Clause 51.06 or more than two dwellings after the development of the secondary dwelling; and
  • Must still continue to satisfy any garden area requirements in the zone and any car parking requirements associated with the existing principal dwelling.

Secondary Dwelling Requirements

The secondary dwellings permitted under Clause 51.06 must meet a number of specific requirements that ensure the secondary dwelling is restricted to a small residential dwelling. Proposed secondary dwellings must not exceed:

  • A gross floor area of 60 square metres;
  • A building height of more than five metres; and
  • More than one storey, although a basement will not be considered to be a storey for the purposes of Clause 51.06.

VicSmart Assessment Pathway

Applications under the code will be streamlined via the VicSmart assessment pathway when certain requirements are met. Such applications will be processed within 10 days and will have less regulatory and administrative requirements. To qualify, applications must meet a number of requirements including:

  • Meeting the code criteria;
  • Relating to a dwelling that is not located on a lot boundary or closer to a street (other than a rear lane) than the existing dwelling; and
  • Satisfying the numerical requirements of identified standards of clause 55.

The standard planning permit process will apply to applications which do not meet the above criteria.

Permit Condition Prohibiting Subdivision

All permits granted under Clause 51.06 for a secondary dwelling will include a condition that prohibits the applicant from subdividing the lot to separate the secondary dwelling from the existing principal dwelling.  This prohibition will be effected by a permit condition requiring a s173 Agreement.

Interaction with Other Planning Scheme Provisions

The provisions of Clause 51.06 will prevail over any inconsistent provisions of the planning scheme, most notably clause 52.06 which means secondary dwellings will not be required to have their own parking space. However, the development of the secondary dwelling cannot result in the principal dwelling’s non-compliance with its car parking requirements.


Amendment VC186 seeks to implement a key policy from the Plan Melbourne 217-250 plan, to provide greater choice and diversity housing throughout Victoria. The seven month trial will enable any adjustments to be made where required prior to its introduction into further Victorian Planning Schemes.

This article was written by James Lofting, Partner, Peter Callil, Law Graduate and Laura Kenny, Law Graduate.

Subscribe to HWL Ebsworth Publications and Events

HWL Ebsworth regularly publishes articles and newsletters to keep our clients up to date on the latest legal developments and what this means for your business.

To receive these updates via email, please complete the subscription form and indicate which areas of law you would like to receive information on.

Contact us