Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) developments – Beneficial changes to the Victorian Planning Scheme

These changes will have a significant impact on the town planning process for SDA developments and will fast-track the planning process.

Architecture & Access were pleased to assist and provide advice to amend the Victorian Planning Scheme to benefit SDA developments. The Victorian Planning Provision (VPP) 52.22 Community Care Accommodation (CCA) now includes SDA developments.

The Minister of Planning has approved the amendment to the VPP 52.22 CCA, gazetted (VC226) on November 04, 2022.

What is VPP 52.22 CCA?
VPP 52.22 applies to the use and development of land for community care accommodation. This includes sub-clauses VPP 52.22-2 Use exemption and VPP 52.22-3 Building and works (development) exemption.

What has been in the revised VPP 52.22?
The revision specifically recognizes SDA developments under Community Care Accommodation for both Use and Development where the SDA development is:

– funded by, or carried out by, a registered NDIS provider if the design of the building is certified to the NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation Design Standard by an accredited third-party NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation assessor.

Prior to the amendment, not all Victorian councils approved planning permit exemption under clause 52.2 for SDA developments. Exemptions varied from Council to Council and even between different planners within the same council. Others allowed planning permit exemptions to VPP 52.22 for Use, but not for VPP 52.22-3 Building and works (development).

What is the impact for SDA Developments?
The major impact will be the reduction in the project timelines for SDA developments. A full planning submission will not be required and will not be subject to advertising and objections. The usual planning process can take up to 6 months. It will now be reduced to between two to four weeks, depending on varying Council timeframes and other planning overlays.

Architecture & Access have seen the benefit already with one current SDA project facing 16 objections from neighbours now being exempt. The impact of the exemption is significant.

We expect other benefits to include a reduction in holding and development cost with quicker processing times, leading to construction commencing sooner. With a less onerous planning process, we also expect that SDA providers will benefit from a reduction in consultant’s fees associated with preparing planning submissions and managing responses.

What evidence is needed to achieve the exemption?

To achieve the exemption, council need evidence that the SDA development:

  • Is funded by, or carried out by, a registered NDIS provider

Our recent experience is that a statement on letterhead from the SDA Provider with their SDA registration number and details of the development including the site address, SDA Design Category and SDA Housing Typology has been sufficient evidence to gain exemption. This may vary from council to council and will need to be tested.

  • The building is certified to the NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation Design Standard by an accredited third-party NDIS Specialist Disability Accommodation assessor.

Providing SDA Certification based on planning documentation may present a challenge. On one of our recent projects the registered SDA Assessor provided a statement on letterhead noting their SDA Assessor registration number and that the project met design compliance based on the planning drawings provided. The letter identified the SDA Design Category and the list of design elements that were compliant.

Typically, planning documents will not demonstrate compliance for all elements. For example, it is not possible for the assessor to review compliance for appliances. The assessor noted the SDA Provider demonstrated intention to ensure compliance. This was accepted by the council.

Architecture & Access anticipate meeting the criteria for Certification may present a challenge. Success will depend on the willingness of the SDA assessor to provide a sufficient statement and councils to accept their statement of compliance.

For SDA developments, the Amendment to the VPP 52.22 is a game changer. Including SDA developments under the Community Care Accommodation will provide certainty and a reduction in project timelines. Having the correct evidence to achieve exemption is essential for success.

Architecture & Access believe the best outcomes for SDA housing occurs when stakeholders are included in the design process. Our team are experienced with community engagement and codesign models. Please contact us to discuss your SDA project.

Architecture & Access


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Parkville VIC Australia 3052

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Suite 41B, 276 Edward Street
Brisbane QLD 4000 Australia

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