Interim Central Melbourne planning controls: the detail

Interim Central Melbourne planning controls: the detail
Alastair TaylorSeptember 5, 2015

While you were sleeping on Friday night, the Victorian Government gazetted new interim planning controls for the CBD and parts of Southbank, chief among them is the re-introduction of site plot ratios. A media release distributed at midday on Saturday states the City of Melbourne has been made a referral authority, after the council signed a memorandum of understanding with the Victorian Government.

Interim Central Melbourne planning controls: the detail
The Central City Study Area. Image supplied

All development applications arriving on the Planning Minister's desk before Friday will be assessed under the regime existing prior to the interim controls coming into effect. This means all projects shown in this video distributed by the Victorian Government will not be subject to newly gazetted interim controls.

Setbacks and plot ratios

The Government Gazette from Friday night states that the City of Melbourne Planning Scheme has been amended with the following:

  • A new Schedule 10 to Clause 43.02 has been inserted to the Design and Development Overlay.
    • Buildings up to or equal to 100 metres in height will require a tower setback of minimum five metres to all boundaries or from the centre of a laneway above the podium.
    • Buildings above 100 metres in height will require tower setbacks to be the equivalent of five per cent of the building's overall height, and likewise these tower setbacks will be required to all boundaries or from the centre of a laneway above the podium height.
    • A plot ratio requirement of 24:1 has been added.

A plot ratio - or FAR (Floor area ratio) - is a tool which relates to Gross Floor Area and prescribes the maximum density allowable for a development site. By way of an example, alongside other new controls as outlined in the link section below, a 1,000 square metre site in Melbourne's CBD will now only be permitted to have up to 24,000 square metres of Gross Floor Area.

The following image was distributed by the Victorian Government on Saturday showing the pre-interim control conditions in central Melbourne. No matter which way you look at it, the new plot ratio requirements appear to be very generous when compared to other cities which use them.

Interim Central Melbourne planning controls: the detail
Melbourne's central area now has an interim plot ratio of 24:1
  • A schedule to Clause 66.04 has been amended to add the City of Melbourne as a recommending referral authority.
  • Clause 7 in Schedule 1 to the Capital City Zone deals with the prohibition of "overshadowing the northern bank of the Yarra, 15 metres from its edge and any open space at Federation Square, City Square, and the State Library Forecourt between 11am and 2pm from 22nd of March to 22nd September".
    • Clause 7 likewise introduces a wind analysis requirement.
  • Clause 3 in Schedule 2 to the Capital City Zone prohibits the construction of "footbridges, pedestrian ways, vehicle bridges and links across the above ground level of Bourke Street, Collins Street, Swanston Street and Elizabeth Street".
    • Clause 3 likewise states that "a permit is required to construct a building or construct or carry out works which would cast a shadow between 11am and 2pm on 22nd March and 22 September over public space, public parks and gardens, public squares, major pedestrian routes including streets and lanes, and privately owned plazas open to the public. A permit may only be granted if the responsible authority considers the overshadowing will not prejudice the amenity of those areas".
  • Clause 6 in Schedule 3 to the Capital City Zone prohibits "the construction of buildings and works which would cast any additional shadow across the Shrine of Remembrance and its northern forecourt between 11am and 4pm on 22nd September".

Discretionary height limits become mandatory

Schedules 2, 7, 40, 60 and 62 to the Design and Development Overlay deal with previous discretionary height controls now being mandatory.

Ordinance 22.01 (Urban design within the Capital City Zone) is probably where all architects will want to head to straight away and rounding out the mass-linkage of all the amended documents is Ordinance 22.02 (Sunlight to public spaces).

A year of consultation and review

Interim Central Melbourne planning controls: the detail
Key topic areas which will be a focus in the upcoming central city planning review. Image supplied

2016 is set to be an even busier year in the planning world for Central Melbourne. Fishermans Bend's review and now the CBD and Southbank's own planning review are set to be completed and published. Likewise, according to details embedded in a referral posted on the Federal Government's Department of Environment website, Melbourne Metro will have its planning and environmental assessment complete.

Based on reports in other media and the Victorian Government-supplied image above, we should expect to hear a lot about equitable development opportunities and density bonuses in the coming review period. is interested to hear reaction from all sectors of the urban development industry, academia, the public sector and other stakeholders. We encourage to send your comments to Received comments will not be attributed to the source should we decide to use them in a future article. If any individual wishes to go on the record, we may invite them to write an op-ed.

Lead image credit: GlennWilson

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor is a co-founder of Now a freelance writer, Alastair focuses on the intersection of public transport, public policy and related impacts on medium and high-density development.

Editor's Picks

Six Degrees and Beulah lead the way for next era of sustainable homes and design
Abadeen & PERIFA to bring Woolloomooloo Wharf-inspired waterfront precinct to Putney
Coronation tops out Mason & Main, Merrylands second stage
From rooftop running tracks to piano bars: Melbourne's best apartments with significant resident amenities
‘Reverse sea changers’ return to city life as West End penthouse fetches $5.25 million