Statutory Planning

Goulburn-Murray Water (GMW) is a referral authority for 26 local government areas across Northern Victoria in accordance with the Planning and Environment Act 1987. This vast area encompasses the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District and 43 Special Water Supply Catchments.

GMW’s areas of interest are surface water and groundwater quality, use and disposal. GMW requires that development proposals do not impact detrimentally on GMW’s infrastructure and the flow and quality of surface water and groundwater. 

As a referral authority, GMW assesses the impact any land use and development applications may have on water quality and GMW’s assets and infrastructure. 

Applicants must ensure that any required water supplies are available from an approved source.  

Pre-Planning Applications

GMW can provide pre-planning advice in relation to land use and development applications. The advice provided through this process is preliminary only and subject to an planning permit application made through the Planning and Environment Act 1987.

GMW recommends applicants refer to the website Water in Your Region prior to contacting GMW. This is a useful tool to determine if GMW is the relevant referral rural water authority in your area.

If GMW is the relevant referral authority, applicants must complete and submit the  Pre-Planning Permit Application Enquiry Form to GMW. The completed form must include a map clearly showing setback distances of proposed buildings and wastewater disposal areas from any water features.

These include: channels and drains, waterways, drainage lines, dams and bores. The applicable setback distances are derived from Table 5 of the EPA Code of Practice – Onsite Wastewater Management, Publication 891.4, July 2016.

It is recommended referring to the links to guidelines, references and planning tools to assist with your application.   

Please forward the completed form and any relevant information to planning.referrals@gmwater.com.au

Applications referred to GMW in accordance with the Planning & Environment Act 1987

VicSmart Applications

VicSmart is a simple and fast planning permit process for straightforward applications. Clause 71.06 of the relevant Planning Scheme sets out the VicSmart Planning Applications and Process.  

Should a VicSmart application require referral to GMW under Clause 66 of the Planning Scheme, written consent must be obtained from GMW before lodging the application with Council. The written consent must not be older than three months. 

If an applicant does not obtain this consent or GMW objects, the application cannot be a VicSmart application and the applicant must apply through the regular permit application process. The following documentation should be provided with your VicSmart application:

  • Details of the applicant and the land owner
  • Application details, such as the current land use, the proposed land use.
  • Plans – a copy of plans for your proposed development. The plans must have dimensions, be drawn to scale and show the details of all buildings or other structures proposed.
  • Map – clearly showing setback distances of proposed buildings and any existing wastewater disposal areas from any water features. These include: channels and drains, waterways, drainage lines, dams and bores.  The applicable setback distances are derived from Table 5 of the EPA Code of Practice – Onsite Wastewater Management, Publication 891.4, July 2016.
  • Title details – A current copy of the Certificate of Title for your property (less than 3 months old). The Certificate of Title should include full information of any covenants or restrictions on the title and a plan or diagram showing the lot layout and dimensions.
Section 52 and 55 Referrals

Clause 66 of the Planning Scheme identifies what type of referral authority GMW will be for each kind of application that must be referred.

GMW may either be a determining referral authority in accordance with Section 55 of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (the Act), or a recommending referral authority under the provisions of the Act. GMW can object to the granting of a permit, decide not to object or specify conditions to be included on a permit for both types of referral.  However the effect of that advice on the final outcome of an application is different for each type of application. 

Section 55 Referrals

In accordance with Section 55, if GMW objects to the granting of an application, the Council must refuse to grant a permit, or if GMW specifies conditions, those conditions must be included in any permit granted. GMW must respond to Section 55 referrals within 28 days of receiving the application from Council or receipt of further information. If further information is required, GMW has 21 days from the date of receiving the application to request further information.

Land use and development applications within a Special Water Supply Catchment are referred to GMW in accordance with Section 55 of the Act.

A Land Capability Assessment is mandatory for unsewered development that produces wastewater on any allotment within a Special Water Supply Catchment.* 

Section 52 Referrals

In contrast, under the provisions of Section 52, the Council must consider the recommending referral’s authority’s advice but is not obliged to refuse the application or to include any recommending conditions.  GMW has 14 days from receipt of the application to respond to Section 52 referrals.

For land use and development application on any allotment not within a Special Water Supply Catchment, the requirement for a Land Capability Assessment is site specific and based upon GMW’s discretion.

The process for referring an application is the same for both types of applications and GMW requires the following documentation in order to fully assess an application:

  • Details of the applicant and the land owner
  • Application details, such as the current land use, the proposed land use.
  • A copy of pre-planning advice (if applicable).
  • Plans – a copy of plans for your proposed development. The plans must have dimensions, be drawn to scale and show the details of all buildings or other structures proposed.
  • Title details – A current copy of the Certificate of Title for your property (less than 3 months old). The Certificate of Title should include full information of any covenants or restrictions on the title and a plan or diagram showing the lot layout and dimensions.
  • Land Capability Assessment – based upon GMW’s discretion if the allotment is not within a Special Water Supply Catchment, however must accompany any unsewered development application within a SWSC that produces wastewater. A LCA must be undertaken in accordance with the EPA Publication No. 746.1, Land Capability Assessment for On Site Domestic Wastewater Management.
  • If the application is for additional development on a site which already has wastewater producing facilities, the application must include a description and site plan of the existing septic system and any associated disposal field. GMW may also require a report to be completed by a suitably qualified professional to determine whether the existing system is suitable to use for the additional development.

Links to relevant guidelines and references

Planning Tools

List of Local Government Areas

Alpine Shire Council Planning Department Mildura Rural City Council Planning Services
City Of Ballarat Planning Department Mitchell Shire Council Planning Department
Benalla Rural City Council Planning Department Moira Shire Council Planning Department
City Of Greater Bendigo Planning Department Moorabool Shire Council Planning Department
Shire Of Campaspe Planning Department Mount Alexander Shire Council Planning Department
Central Goldfields Shire Council Planning Department Murrindindi Shire Council Planning Department
East Gippsland Shire Council Planning Department Pyrenees Shire Council Planning Department
Gannawarra Shire Council Planning Department Greater Shepparton City Council  Planning Department
Hepburn Shire Council Planning Department Strathbogie Shire Council Planning Department
Indigo Shire Council Planning Department Swan Hill Rural City Council Planning Department
Loddon Shire Council  Planning And Local Laws Towong Shire Council Planning Department
Macedon Ranges Shire Council Planning Department Rural City Of Wangaratta Planning Department
Mansfield Shire Council Planning Department Wodonga Rural City Council Planning Department