New permanent central city controls headed to independent planning panel

The Planning Minister has unveiled new draft permanent central city planning controls that are now to be sent to an independent planning panel which will allow the public to make submissions.

Chief among the proposed planning controls for Melbourne's CBD and Southbank is the introduction of a floor area ratio (FAR) of 18:1. The interim controls released last year put in place a FAR of 24:1.

Projects will have the ability to exceed the maximum FAR in the central city if there is a demonstratable public benefit. The public benefits can take the form of public open space, office uses, public space inside the building or social housing contained within the building.

How floor area uplift will work. Image supplied

In the podium and setbacks space, by default podiums will be limited to 20 metres in height with the discretion to increase it to 40 metres to match existing streetscapes and on certain street corners. Towers will need to be set back at least five metres from the podium edge and likewise there will be a minimum side and rear setback of five metres for proposals which include a tower measuring 80 metres or less.

For proposals which include a tower taller than 80m, side and rear setbacks of 6% of the overall height will be required.

The proposed podium and setback regime. Image supplied.

Height controls will only apply to areas like Bourke Hill and there will be reinforced shadowing and wind controls, both mandatory and discretionary. The key public spaces that are to be protected by wind and shadowing controls are Federation Square, State Library of Victoria, the Shrine of Remembrance, the Yarra, City Square, Bourke Street Mall and Boyd Park in Southbank.

The following diagram and video depict the possibilities under the new controls and compares it to the 'business as usual' scenario.

Development possibility: business as usual versus proposed new controls. Image supplied

The proposed planning controls have been devised with the input from City of Melbourne and the Office of Victorian Government Architect. The independent panel will begin public hearings in July, the planning controls are anticipated to be in place by the end of 2016. www.delwp.vic.gov.au/central-city

The images and video contained within this article were provided to Urban Melbourne by the State Government of Victoria, CC 4.0

16 comments

Alastair Taylor's picture

A comparison with other cities' FAR/FAU:

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Riddlz's picture

^^It was bought up in another article, but isn't this a useless apples and pears comparison? Something along the lines of Melbourne's FAR will include all covered areas in the building as opposed to using only net sell-able/lease-able area, which other cities do?

Much better setback controls with allowances for flexibility on blank walls, glad to see they went back and changed them. If only they dumped the new pesky overshadowing controls, I'd be fully content.

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johnproctor's picture

What I'd be very interested to see is a list of existing buildings in Melbourne that would be 'approvable' under these planning changes. A assume for example Eureka Tower would not be approved under this version of the planning scheme.

Would 101 or 120 Collins? My reading (from above only) of the FAR rules implies that commercial buildings may have much more flexibility in FAR as they are seen as a public good (presumably only given current market conditions is squeezing out space for commercial buildings in the CBD).

Freshwater Place as a mixed use development and potentially with some 'ublic open space' provision might have a decent chance of approval. Prima Pearl no chance.

In short it appears the 'skyline defining residential tower' is dead.

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3000's picture

This comment section will be interesting....

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3000's picture

Are office towers subject to this?

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Andy Li's picture

Hey guys

is there anyway to access the digital model of this area?
Cheers

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Alastair Taylor's picture

In short it appears the 'skyline defining residential tower' is dead.

I actually don't think it is - there's no limit with the uplift (other than setbacks/podium heights and aviation restrictions).

Back of the envelope calculation:

3000 square metre site, maximum floor space available to build is 54,000sqm (18:1) under the reasonable base. Example commercial value of 54k sqm of space: $300mil.

If the proponent wanted to add another 20,000 square metres that's "extra commercial value" of $111million (assuming same $ per sqm). In order to get approved, the application would have to satisfy setbacks/podium heights/overshadowing/wind controls as well as aviation restrictions and 10% of that extra commercial value - $11mil - would need to be used for things like open space, offices or affordable housing (social or market -affordable).

The end result - unless I'm horribly mistaken - will be similarly tall / large buildings but spaced better with potentially good public benefits with a proportion of below-market-price apartments or offices or public/accessible space in or outside the building.

[That's how I'm reading into it anyhow]

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Alastair Taylor's picture

Andy:

is there anyway to access the digital model of this area?

You'd have to ask the Victorian Government. We were only provided with a video file.

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db2's picture

These rules appear to be aligning Melbourne CBD planning rules with other comparable cities such as Toronto. Over there you can go tall, but only when exchanging community benefit for the extra height.

No mandated OLS height limiting in Melbourne thankfully. That was a strong suggestion. I suspect Richard Wynne wanted this and was talked out of it. He hung strong to tighter overshadowing, but compromised on height.

Note, PANS-OPS remains a true upper limit; with crane penetration being a factor as well.

260 LaTrobe street was proposed to be a PANS-OPS maximum tower; next door and same height as Aurora. Under these rules, spacing appears to be valued more than before; actually the old spacing rules were just about open-slather (not good). 260 LaTrobe now will be much reduced; not a bad thing in my book.

Overall, not too bad.

Much less speculation in the market going forward; with the occasional landmark every now and again.

Note, two big towers for the Victoria Market (MCC tender) are due in the next few years; both will be exempt from these rules.

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3000's picture

I see nothing wrong with developers have to give something back. It's promoting responsible development. But there will be people who think that if its not 260+ and built to the boundary it's a loss. You can't tell me that A'beckett street and parts of spencer are actually good outcomes are street level. Whole stretches of street that are just huge podiums that give nothing except for a tiny retail front. I've always maintained that ou can have good street level AND tall towers.

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Adrian's picture

Can someone please explain to me again how New York has an FAR of 12:1 yet that pencil thin 400m resi tower up near Central Park still got built ?

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db2's picture

@Adrian,

Simple, the developer purchased the air-rights from nearby buildings.
Some community facilities may have also been part of the picture.

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Bilby's picture

Yes, some NY developers have purchased whole blocks (or close to it) to achieve their tall tower ambitions ... I believe one of them was a guy called Trump ...

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johnproctor's picture

Which is the same way many of Te older towers in Melbourne got their height under the old plot ratio rules.

I should say I wasn't saying it negatively (necessarily) hat the age of the skyline defining rest tower was over. Eureka wouldn't be defining if every building was that tall as Matthew guy would have had it. The anything goes approach to planning wAs failing the city.

Although Alistair in your example how many 3000sqm sites are there in Melbourne? Queens place and the Telstra site.

Aurora is 3000sqm site area but your 74000sqm development area outlined above that doesn't leave much space.

Let's say it got a 40m podium. At 10 levels that's 12,000sqm (is basement levels excluded from the calculations?). That leave s64000 over the 80ish above ground levels or 800sqm per level. I'm guessing the top 20 levels are bigger floor plates than 800sqm let alone the majority of the towers cloverleaf design which at a rough guess might be 1600sqm floor plates. I'm guessing aurora is probably 50% above your development scenario.

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Bilby's picture

Ok, but at what point do we start thinking of the CBD as being beyond the confines of the Hoddle Grid? Areas like Fishermans Bend have been designated high rise areas - and there are plenty of 3000m2 sites, or at least potential consolidation sites, in that location, not to mention future possibilities in E-Gate, Docklands, etc. So it is important to get the plot ratios right now, in order to avoid similar problems that we have already seen in the Hoddle Grid.

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db2's picture

It should be noted that Victoria Market and west-wards are NOT subject to the new rules.

Two landmark towers are scheduled, via the Melbourne City Council, to come to be over the next five or so years in that Vic Market area. King Street opposite Flagstaff could also support a landmark; new rules won't apply.

Telstra site another site for a big one.

Crown at Queensbridge is part of the mix as well landmark wise.

Plus everything that is already approved. There is enough tall stuff easily for the next five plus years even without another proposal.

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