The new planning zones were designed to provide clarity to the community and also to developers in order for them to make investment decisions with a clear understanding of what can be built on the sites they purchase.
To date Samuel Property have begun development of two projects: Vela in Blackburn and Lennox Glen Iris. Urban Melbourne recently chatted with Illan Samuel who is head of the company and some interesting planning anecdotes came out of the conversation.
Lennox, located at 25 Belmont Avenue North in Glen Iris, was initially targeted at the downsizer market and four weeks out from kicking off the marketing campaign for the project, a decision was made to switch direction and target young professionals.
All 20 apartments were sold in 4-5 weeks and it attracted “very much a hyper-local buyer pool - young people who were either renting or originally grew up in the area - and no offshore buyers” according to Samuel.
Illan Samuel told Urban Melbourne that development sites in side streets right near main strips are preferred; buyers like being close to the action but not directly on the main drag as it were. Lennox in Glen Iris and Vela in Blackburn fit this bill.
Take this map of zones for the Blackburn area in Whitehorse, Vela Blackburn as seen in the render below is located at 4 Station Street, just off Whitehorse Road and right inside the RGZ3 zone. Lennox in Glen Iris located at 25 Belmont Avenue North comes under GRZ10 according to Stonnington zone maps for Glen Iris.
Vela in Blackburn, like Lennox in Glen Iris, has sold out of its 24 apartments and Illan told Urban Melbourne the sales campaign drew in a lot of local buyers.
As is the custom when Urban Melbourne asks developers about future plans, there was a lot of coyness, but Illan did tell us that a similar profile development - side street just off a main strip in RGZ or GRZ - is currently at planning in Glen Eira.
Vela in Blackburn is already under construction and Lennox Glen Iris is set to commence construction in October.
There is still, no doubt, scope to improve the planning zones further. For instance, encouraging (forcing?) councils to apply them to more areas in their LGA and experimenting with other "carrot or the stick" tools like density bonuses which might allow developers to build an extra level in exchange for affordable or social housing components in developments located in any General Residential or Residential Growth Zone.
Regardless, it is encouraging to see capital seek out these development opportunities and from early-adopter and entrepreneurial developers as well; as it is the little things, built in high volume, that are going to count over the long run if Melbourne is to reach the goal of diversifying its residential stock as we grow over the coming decades.
Lead image credit: Lennox Glen Iris location, Samuel Property.