Government should re-assess the neighbourhood planning zones

Government should re-assess the neighbourhood planning zones
Government should re-assess the neighbourhood planning zones

It’s been just over two years since the Victorian Government’s controversial Neighbourhood Residential Zones were gazetted, which restricted new apartment development to certain ‘zones’ within each suburb, thus limiting development on side streets and other designated areas to single-lot dwellings.

The planning amendment was one long fought for by the residents of some of Melbourne’s most affluent suburbs like those surrounding Marshall White’s four offices through Boroondara, Stonnington and Bayside, as they strove to protect their leafy-green streetscapes from new apartment buildings.

Many would say it’s been a win for the residents, however something incredibly interesting and unprecedented is now occurring as a result.

For the first time in recent memory, the same demographic which once vehemently opposed new developments - baby boomers and empty nesters - are looking to sell the family home and purchase a large, bespoke apartment in the same neighbourhood they know and love. It’s an extraordinary shift in sentiment from say two or three years ago when this particular demographic wouldn’t even consider living in an apartment.

On the contrary, now they have wholeheartedly embraced it, but there’s just one problem – the type of apartments they are seeking; boutique projects located on quiet side streets away from the hustle-and-bustle of the main road traffic, don’t actually exist anymore due to the flow on effects of the new planning regulations which have severely restricted new apartment growth in these suburbs.

Developers are now adjusting to the new regulations by purchasing what properties they can on main roads, and redeveloping them into large-scale new apartment buildings. Some landowners are even now cashing in by combining their sites and selling multiple adjoining parcels for a huge profit.

But, with development opportunities now so restricted, developers simply can’t keep up with the demand for more boutique developments of say 10 luxury apartments in quiet neighbourhood streets.

As baby boomers and empty nesters continue to flood the market, there is simply not enough new product coming to market in Melbourne’s inner east and northern suburbs to keep up with demand. With the rapidly changing market, the time is now to reassess the neighbourhood planning guidelines in order to free up the pipeline of new apartment developments in order to adequately satiate demand.

A market as dynamic as Melbourne’s demands flexible planning schemes that provide clarity, are nimbly changed and evolved to keep up with constantly changing market needs.

This new wave of apartment-embracing downsizers will just continue to grow as more and more people seek to trade in their family home for something more manageable, yet still with the luxury finishes and amenity to which they have become accustomed.

Our planning regulations are behind the times and we urgently need reform in order to better serve the market in the future.

Leonard Teplin is Director of Marshall White Projects.

Lead image courtesy Trust Advocate

Tags: 
Marshall White Victorian planning zone reform

Comments (18)

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Illan Samuel's picture
Bilby - when the market is good, everything sells.... Let's wait and see what this year bring. A push back against apartment living to smaller low maintenance townhouses could very well take place if these are the only options in the right locations for high end downsizers. Main roads should be about density, height and affordability - not a one size fits all approach.

Nicholas is correct. Most (if not all) Commercial sites in Boroondara are covered by a DDO which details each shopping strip and notes the exact mandatory height for each parcel, regardless if they are consolidated and the ability to do something great exists. In a lot of areas the are 3 levels, some 2 and some higher. It is short sighted....vcat won't go against mandatory heights.

And your comment re land availability / if it isn't residential growth or general 1-3 or commercial/mixed use, you won't get apartments. A lot of Borondara is actually commercial 2 or industrial in parts - so off limits without a rezoning, which is a long long process.

Not saying there aren't sites - but wouldn't think they are as plentiful as you suggest. The article still has merit, but perhaps you are right that some %'a of available land use would have supported the case. Borondara pushed back on a lot of RGZ and in turn GR5 was born - which is 9metres default, but not mandatory... So case by case... Ie pot luck.
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PaPa Riddlz
It is really poor form in my opinion, so many of these sites in Boroondara near public transport nodes could easily sustain high density development without having major effect on traffic and parking, which is the NIMBY's favorite punching bag.

I remember thinking, when that KFC on the corner was being demolished, it's a good location for some apartments maybe up to 5-7 levels but no it just ended up being 1 storey shops...



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nwharr
Boroondara Council have been pushing for a low/no growth controls over the entire municipality for the past 10 years.

I would like the minister to explain why 301 High Street Ashburton has an 8m height limit and 90 Camberwell Road in Hawthorn East has an 11m height limit.

There are also hundreds of other examples of prime development sites on main roads with similar ridiculous height limits that were approved by the minister last year (Clause 43.02 DDO16).
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bilby
That's interesting - can you give an example, Nicholas? Are these part of structure planning in Boroondara, or something else?
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nwharr
Design and development overlays with mandatory height controls have been introduced, or are proposed in a majority of the commercial and industrial areas in Boroondara.

Many of these controls are stricter than the controls in the residential Zones with some commercial areas being restricted to a maximum height of 8m!

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