An academic says planning regulations aren't keeping up with the population shift from large metropolitan areas to the outskirts of country towns.

Trevor Budge, of La Trobe University, says regional councils around Australia are struggling to manage the large numbers of new residents, who move and commute, or retire to peri-urban areas - the country areas on the fringes of town.

Associate Professor Budge says trying to apply the same planning laws to multiple towns doesn't work, because towns have very different character and needs.

"I'm very concerned about government policy that you say well, this is a group of towns, they're all the same, the same typology exists here, we'll apply the same process," Professor Budge said.

"You need to understand the story of each town, you need to understand the community 'vibe' that's there, to really understand what perhaps the policies and practice of government might be in each of these communities."

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