New trial gives granny flats green light in Victoria

Living Well | Sue Hewitt | Images: Getty | Posted on 28 October 2020

Want to build a granny flat on your property? This new trial scheme will make it easier. 

A trial program to fast-track planning approval of granny flats and other second dwellings promises to make it easier to accommodate older children and elderly relatives at home, as COVID forces many Victorians to reconsider their living arrangements

Four local government areas – Bendigo, Kingston, Moreland and the Shire of Murrindindi – are participating in the trial, which promises planning approval within 10 days for proposed second dwellings that meet the criteria on size, height and amenities.

Couple sitting on porch of granny flat

RACV urban planning manager Stuart Outhred says secondary dwellings are capable of filling an important gap in the housing market.



The trial cuts through red tape currently surrounding second dwellings, which requires that the structure must be moveable and used only by a person dependent on a resident of the main dwelling. The trial scheme permits the construction of permanent, self-contained second dwellings, which may be rented out to third parties to provide an income. 

More: Why Victoria is lagging on granny flats.

The scheme, being trialled until March next year, aims to provide social benefits in the form of increased housing options for an ageing population, multi-generational families and lower-income households.

RACV urban planning manager Stuart Outhred says the trial could help improve housing choice and affordability. He says RACV research conducted earlier this year revealed that housing affordability is a key concern for many Victorians. “Ideas like this [trial] can have a genuine impact,” he says.

“It will allow multi-generational families to live together on the same block but apart, either in the main house or in a self-contained second dwelling.” 

He says a second dwelling can accommodate older children or provide a more manageable living space for senior family members, enabling them to ‘age in place’ rather than having to move away from their community to a smaller home. 

More: Melbourne's community by design

By helping older residents remain in established suburbs, while younger families move in, Stuart says the scheme will encourage greater age diversity, which benefits the overall community. It will also enable residential infill development in established areas without a significant negative impact on the amenity of the suburb. 

“We know that providing more living options for people in established areas with good access to services, jobs and transport is essential,” Stuart says. “This is an innovative policy change that can help deliver infill housing in a simple way.

“While secondary dwellings are very small scale, they are capable of filling a really important gap in the housing market.”

Applications that meet the second-dwelling criteria are fast-tracked in 10 days through VicSmart. 

Here’s a snapshot of what is allowed:

  • Height limit of five metres.
  • Maximum floor size of 60 square metres.
  • Must meet the minimum garden, siting and design requirements of the local planning zone.
  • Must have a sink and food preparation area.
  • Must have a bath or shower and toilet.
  • Is a permanent structure.
  • Can’t be subdivided.