Sustainable Subdivisions

The creation of a subdivision is the creation of a community. It commences with a relatively blank canvas, setting up the life of the community that will extend over hundreds of years. The initial subdivision design presents an enormous opportunity to get the fundamentals right. 

The long-term nature of subdivision planning is set against the backdrop of our climate fundamentally changing. By 2070, for example, temperature increases of between 1.5 and 3 degrees are expected. It is therefore critical to take a long-term view and consider the impact of climate change over the entire life of the subdivision. 

Sustainable subdivisions are carefully planned to achieve improved quality of life, protect and use resources efficiently and improve the health of the environment and people. Crucially, sustainability needs to be embedded from the beginning of the subdivision process.  

In 2019, 16 partner councils, the VPA and CASBE partnered to develop a Sustainable Subdivisions Framework focusing on improving the long-term community benefits delivered by a subdivision through the planning process. 

Sustainable Subdivisions Framework

The Sustainable Subdivisions Framework (SSF) is a framework that seeks to provide statutory planners with a basis for measuring and achieving stronger sustainability outcomes in residential subdivisions, while also providing information on how sustainability interventions can be integrated into residential subdivisions. 

The SSF identifies seven categories that can assist in creating sustainable subdivisions:

The seven (7) categories include:

  • Objectives: Mirroring existing Victorian State planning policy objectives and introducing objectives where gaps exist, strengthening the justification for the adoption and use of the Framework.
  • Criteria: The requirements to meet category objectives.
  • Metrics: Quantifiable environmental performance requirements to support objectives where performance can be quantified, but not to take the place of a robust overall evaluation.
  • Innovation: Opportunity to improve on best practice sustainability within each category.
  • Implementation (Governance & Management): Pathway that ensures the criteria are effectively implemented and the objectives of the category are met over the long-term.

A further fact sheet has been developed which provides an overview of the SSF and the expectations of applicants.

Please go to our resources page for more information.

The SSF was launched on 2 September 2020. You can watch the launch webinar here.


For information about the SSF, contact the CASBE team at


This project was supported by the Victorian Government’s Collaborative Council Sustainability Fund Partnership Program.

The Victorian Planning Authority were a supporting partner on the initial project to develop the SSF.

HIP V. HYPE and Spiire were engaged to develop the Sustainable Subdivisions Framework and support materials.

Sustainable Subdivisions Framework Trial

From October 2020, 31 councils across Victoria participated in a 24-month voluntary trial of the Sustainable Subdivisions Framework (SSF).  

The SSF was trialled by councils to monitor its impact in delivering sustainable communities through the planning process.

The purpose of this trial was to test the SSF within various live subdivision applications, assess the suitability of categories, standards, processes and supporting documents, understand the resource needs, and use the learnings to refine the SSF both during the trial and beyond.  

Trial methodology and evaluation

  • Subdivision applicants were invited to participate in the trial and submit sustainability information.  
  • Participating councils undertook assessments for subdivisions that both did and did not submit information.  
  • Aggregate data was analysed to assess the success of the processes, resources, and the impact of the SSF in delivering sustainable communities. 
  • Learnings were applied iteratively during the trial, for example:  
    • SSF Assets were updated mid-trial to improve clarity and consistency (I.e. Applicant kits and submission templates) 
    • A ‘Very Large’ category was added (250+ lots) 
    • Standards were streamlined, particularly for small and medium subdivisions where there was no public realm, to ensure the SSF was appropriate to the scale of subdivision. 
    • Funding was sought and obtained for SSF shared services officers to provide dedicated human resources to support the SSF implementation. 
  • A Technical Reference Panel provided expert input from industry and academia throughout.  

Learnings and outcomes 

  • Internal council resourcing and the time intensive nature of SSF assessments was a barrier to participation for most councils. 
  • The voluntary nature of the trial affected applicant participation.  
  • The appointment of SSF shared services officers during the trial proved a successful way of supporting multiple councils.  
  • There is a need to build understanding of the benefits of sustainable subdivisions both across councils and industry.  

Further work is needed to refine the SSF to be more fit for purpose. This includes ensuring:

  • Requirements are relevant to the scale of the subdivision.  
  • Information is requested at the correct time in the subdivision planning process.  
  • There is greater consideration of issues such as solar orientation, slope, alignment with other policy tools and balancing competing policy objectives. 
  • Metrics are clear, measurable, do not duplicate existing state planning policy and are wholly contained within the SSF itself. 

For more information, refer to the Key Findings and Recommendations documents from the SSF Trial. 

Phase 2 of the trial

Phase 2 of the trial commenced in November 2o22, involving 21 councils supported by dedicated human resources. These councils include:

  • Alpine Shire Council
  • Ballarat City Council
  • Cardinia Shire Council
  • Greater Bendigo City Council
  • Greater Geelong City Council
  • Greater Shepparton City Council
  • Horsham Rural City Council
  • Hume City Council
  • Indigo Shire Council
  • Melton City Council
  • Mildura Rural City Council
  • Mitchell Shire Council
  • Moorabool Shire Council
  • Murrindindi Shire Council
  • Strathbogie Shire Council
  • Towong Shire Council
  • Wangaratta Rural City Council
  • Warrnambool City Council
  • Whittlesea City Council
  • Wodonga City Council
  • Yarra City Council