Planning, regulation and local laws

Planning

The construction of a green roof, wall or facade may require a planning permit from the local council. At present, there are no specific planning guidelines or requirements for green roofs, walls and facades in Victoria, however associated building works may require a planning permit. Such works may include, for example, replacement of an existing roof or building new structures such as handrails, or the supporting structures for green facades and walls.

A planning permit will most likely be required if the building is affected by a planning overlay such as a Heritage, Neighbourhood Character or Design and Development overlay.

Other planning considerations include:

  • siting controls, such as overlooking (particularly if it is a roof that is intended to be used as a space for people to congregate)
  • overshadowing
  • setback requirements.

Where mandatory height controls apply, rooftop structures may be prohibited. Green roofs can be used to meet private open space requirements in private dwellings. More information about planning schemes and the overlays in any given municipality is available from the Planning Schemes Online website. It is also important to speak to the local council.

Local laws

It is important to make sure that vegetation is managed in a way that complies with local laws.

It is important to make sure that vegetation is managed in a way that complies with local laws.

Compliance with laws of the local council is required during the building and maintenance of green roofs, walls or facades. Laws will often address issues related to:

  • Management and disposal of waste products, such as pruning material generated by maintenance contractors
  • Management of vegetation considered to be a weed or fire risk
  • Management of overhanging vegetation on public land or that which has a negative impact on lighting or traffic signs
  • Drainage over public land
  • Use of elevated working platforms or cranes on public land during construction or maintenance 
  • Access at street level for people with a disability – consider encroachment of plants or structures into footpath space
  • Access by emergency services – do not impede the safe egress of occupants in an emergency

Building

Building permits are issued in line with the Victorian Building Regulations. Although there are no specific requirements relating to green roofs, walls and facades in the building regulations, a building surveyor will need to ensure the following aspects are satisfied before a building permit can be issued:

  • Compliance with siting controls in the building regulations (for example, distance of set back from the street, avoiding vegetation protruding onto public space)
  • Appropriate load-bearing capacity of the structure to accommodate proposed dead and live loads, determined in a structural engineer’s report
  • Management of waterproofing and drainage measures to ensure the building provides a healthy environment for its occupants
  • Compliance with fire safety regulations, including fire-fighting equipment and fire resistance of materials used
  • Safety of access and emergency egress for building users, including stairways, balustrades, number of exits, distance to exits, and the provision of ramps for disabled access
  • Compliance with energy efficiency performance standards for new buildings, including evidence of the contribution of the proposed green roof, wall or facade to these performance standards