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, councils across Victoria participated in a 24 month voluntary trial of the Sustainable Subdivisions Framework (SSF). The trial has now entered its second phase and continues to be trialled across Victoria.

Through this process council statutory planners from participating councils are inviting subdivision planning applicants to assess their project against the SSF. 

The purpose of the trial

The purpose of this trial is to understand the impact of using the SSF for the assessment of subdivision applications. 

Specifically, we are seeking to: 

  • Support councils to work collaboratively with the development industry and community to deliver long lasting sustainable community developments.
  • Determine whether the SSF standards are suitable for the scale of development.
  • Gain detailed feedback on the SSF, including highlighting any improvement to its function and content (such as categories, criteria, metrics, process of evaluation etc).
  • Highlight the need for additional resources to support the improvement of the SSF over time. 
  • Understand how the SSF can support a whole of Council approach to sustainable subdivisions.

Trial progress

Thirty-one Victorian councils were involved in the 24 month trial.

At the conclusion of each reporting period, de-identified qualitative and quantitative data was aggregated and analysed by CASBE. The SSF Governance Board and Technical Reference Panel provided expert input from councils, industry, and academia in response to the outcomes of the reported data.

The evaluation assessed the efficiency and effectiveness of the processes, resources, and the impact of the SSF in delivering sustainable communities.

The first reporting period (after the first 6-months) found that while there was some success, internal council resourcing for the trial was a challenge and represented a barrier to some councils in fully participating in the trial. However, the report also found that there is no one-size-fits all measure of success for Councils, with capacity building as well as outcomes considered a measure of success. A lack of clarity regarding application requirements and the voluntary nature were cited as barriers to developer participation.

Key recommendations from the report included:

  • Addition of a Very Large category for 250+ subdivisions.
  • The need for clear and concise applicant kits and submission templates.
  • Modification of standards, particularly for small and medium subdivisions to ensure the SSF is fit for purpose.
  • 6-month extension of trial to allow for 12-month trial period with revised SSF resources.
  • Proactive industry engagement.
  • High level internal support for planning team to enable participation in the trial.
  • Seeking funding for dedicated human resources or leveraging existing council resources within existing networks.

The 12-month report recognised the need to seeking funding for dedicated human resources to implement the SSF. 

For more information, refer to the SSF 6 month interim report – Key Findings and Recommendations and the SSF 12 month interim report – Key Findings and Recommendations

Councils participating in Phase 2 of the trial

  • 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