Planning TidBits

Little bits that can make a big difference to your town planning outcomes

More Protection for Rooftop Solar Panels

As noted in the separate article titled ‘New Commercial 3 Zone’, Amendment VC149 was gazetted in early August 2018. In addition to the C3Z the statewide amendment seeks to provide more protection for existing roof top solar panels.

Regular readers may recall numerous previous articles that discuss how VCAT has interpreted the impact and ‘reasonableness’ of overshadowing from proposed developments on existing
rooftop solar panels.

This latest amendment bolsters the extent to which solar panels are protected under the Victorian Planning Provisions by inserting new requirements into Clause 32.04 (Mixed Use Zone), Clause 32.05 (Township Zone), Clause 32.07 (Residential Growth Zone), Clause 32.08 (General Residential Zone), Clause 32.09 (Neighbourhood Residential Zone), Clause 34.01 (Commercial 1 Zone), and Clauses 54 and 55 for assessing the impact of new development on existing residential rooftop solar energy facilities.

Of particular interest to permit applicants is the fact that the above-mentioned zones now require the decision maker to consider:

  • The impact of overshadowing on existing rooftop solar energy facilities on dwellings on adjoining lots in a General Residential Zone, Mixed Use Zone, Neighbourhood Residential Zone, Residential Growth Zone or Township Zone.

To assist decision makers in assessing the impact of overshadowing on existing rooftop solar energy facilities the following provisions have been updated:

  • Clause 54.03-5: Standard A7 Energy Efficiency Protection Objectives;
  • Clause 55.03-5: Standard B10 Energy Efficiency Objectives;
  • Clause 55.07-1: Standard B35 Energy Efficiency Objectives.

All three provisions have been altered to include the following new requirement:

  • Buildings should be….
    Sited and designed to ensure that the capacity of existing rooftop solar energy facilities on dwellings on adjoining lots in a General Residential Zone, Neighbourhood Residential Zone or Township Zone are not unreasonably reduced.

In addition, the decision guidelines associated with Standards A7, B10 and B35 have been altered and now require the decision-maker to consider:

  • The extent to which an existing rooftop solar energy facility on an adjoining lot is overshadowed by existing buildings or other permanent structures.
  • Whether the existing rooftop solar energy facility on an adjoining lot is appropriately located.
  • The effect of overshadowing on an existing rooftop solar energy facility on an adjoining lot.

The above changes are a significant shot-in-the-arm for the protection of existing solar panel facilities within residential areas. However, any impact from overshadowing will still need to be balanced against any strategic support for higher density development on the affected land.

These tid-bits are part of the regular contribution made by Clause:1 Planning to Intersect. For more information, contact Ashley Thompson on (03) 9370 9599 or visit Clause 1 at www.clause1.com.au