Introducing the Sustainable Subdivisions Framework

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. This Framework complements the existing Sustainable Design Assessment in the Planning Process (SDAPP)(Buildings) Framework and caters for the needs of growth area and regional communities. Communities whose principal form of development is residential subdivision. The Framework is currently being trialed across Victoria by a number of councils initially on residential subdivisions but is also able to be applied to commercial and industrial subdivisions.

The creation of a subdivision is the creation of a community. Subdivision design 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 create the fundamental conditions for a sustainable and resilient community.

The long-term nature of subdivision planning is now 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.

 Sustainable Subdivisions Framework

The Sustainable Subdivisions Framework seeks to mitigate the impacts of a fundamentally changing climate to create subdivisions that can adapt to the changing climate. The Framework identifies seven categories that can assist in creating sustainable subdivisions:

The Framework has been developed with a focus on environmental sustainability outcomes, which have social and economic benefits, for example the way green infrastructure can provide improved amenity or recreation value.

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 Framework and the expectations of applicants.

Please go to our resources page for more information.

The Sustainable Subdivisions Framework was launched on 2 September 2020. You can watch the launch webinar here.


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

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

Trialing the Framework

Over an 18-month period, commencing in September 2020, councils across the state are conducting a voluntary trial of the Framework. Through this process councils will have the opportunity to upskill statutory planners to provide an assessment of subdivision applications against the Framework, to collect data on its application, receive feedback and communicate the benefits to the community in the process.

What are the goals of the 18-month trial?

  • To collect evidence and develop baseline data for Business As Usual to understand the impact of using the Sustainable Subdivisions Framework for assessment of subdivision applications
  • To understand the willingness of the development community to adopt voluntary recommendations through the process
  • To support councils to work collaboratively with the development industry and community to deliver long lasting sustainable community developments
  • To understand how the Framework can represent a whole of Council approach to sustainable subdivisions
  • To gain detailed feedback on the Framework, including highlighting any improvement to its function and content (such as categories, criteria, metrics, process of evaluation etc.)

What are the benefits of participating the trial

  • Free to participate: Councils will have access to Framework and trial resources free of charge
  • Designed to utilise existing staff resources: The trial will be run through existing planning process and will not necessitate additional staff resources
  • Partnership approach with industry: There is no application fee and take-up of sustainability recommendations is highly encouraged, but voluntary, enabling capacity building and shared consideration of innovative approaches.
  • Designed to foster collaboration across councils: The pilot aims to demonstrate the collaborative capacity and leadership ability of the local government sector in establishing a Statewide assessment framework for sustainable subdivisions.
  • Designed to foster collaboration within council: Recognising the important partnerships between engineering and planning in the subdivision process, the Framework embeds the Sustainable Infrastructure Guidelines, a key engineering resource to deliver  sustainable infrastructure.
  • Upskilling of council staff: Upskilling of staff in delivering holistic sustainable outcomes through the subdivision process and through peer-to-peer learning opportunities across participating councils.

Any Victorian council can implement the Sustainable Subdivisions Framework in their municipality. We have resources available to councils to assist in this process. Please contact us for more information. 


For more information, contact Bridie Guy, Strategic Planner, Wodonga City Council at or the CASBE team at

Project Partners

  • City of Ballarat
  • Baw Baw Shire
  • City of Greater Bendigo
  • East Gippsland Shire
  • City of Greater Geelong
  • City of Hume
  • City of Latrobe
  • Macedon Ranges Shire
  • City of Melton
  • Mitchell Shire
  • Moorabool Shire
  • City of Greater Shepparton
  • Rural City of Wangaratta
  • City of Warrnambool
  • City of Whittlesea
  • City of Wodonga
  • Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment
  • Victorian Planning Authority