Timeframes for approval decisions on low impact additions to residential and commercial properties in Victoria such as fences, garages and signs are set to be slashed from around 40 days to a maximum of 10 under a new system set to be introduced by the government later this year.

In an announcement last week, Planning Minister Matthew Guy said the new VicSmart system will commence in September, and will allow applicants applying for permits to perform any of 12 listed low-impact construction/removal/alteration activities to have their applications assessed under a streamlined approval system.

The new system will ensure that council officers make decisions within 10 days and these decisions will be made against preset criteria.

These activities include realigning a common land boundary and other minor subdivisions, constructing or extending front fences, certain sign displays, car space changes, construction of garages, minor building and works in heritage areas and buildings and works up to $50,000 in business and industrial areas.

Individual councils will also be able to add extra classes of activity within their individual jurisdictions.

Guy said the new system would allow around 8,500 smaller permit applications each year to be fast-tracked, saving time and resources for local planning departments and allowing them to focus on permits requiring more extensive analysis.

“Victoria already has the most efficient planning system in the country and, as we finalise the remaining items of our planning reform agenda, we are ensuring we stay at the top,” Guy said.

Housing Industry Association (Victoria) executive director Gil King welcomed the new reforms, saying the industry has been pushing for a simpler assessment system for minor applications that still require planning permits for several years.

He said home builders and home buyers have been frustrated by the time taken to obtain planning permission for these types of applications, and he is confident the list of items that could be processed through the new system will be increased in the future to possibly cover new homes and small developments which are fully compliant.

Information sessions about the new system will be held in July and August.