Planning Minister announces new controls for Fishermans Bend

Planning Minister Richard Wynne has announced new development controls for Fishermans Bend with a focus on social housing, three bedroom apartments and more commercial and community uses in certain precincts.

In a media release distributed on Sunday morning, the new controls are:

  • If buildings taller than 12 levels are proposed, the developers will be encouraged to make 6% of the total unit stock available for social housing.
  • Similarly, in 12+ level proposals, developers are encouraged to configure at 30% of total unit stock as three bedroom apartments.
  • In Lorimer and Montague precincts, buildings taller than 2 levels will be expected to include at least 15% of floor space for commercial and community use.

We need our new neighbourhoods to have a good mix of small and large apartments with social housing and commercial space.

Developers who want to build projects in properly planned precincts, who want to build neighbourhoods with some longevity, have got the opportunity to be part of the biggest urban renewal opportunity in the country.

Landowners wanting to sell off applications for maximum profit with no regard to the long-term will have to work a bit harder.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne

The interim controls which had discretionary height limits between 4 and 40 levels were introduced last year whilst detailed neighbourhood environmental precinct plans were underway. The discretionary height limits will now be mandatory and applied to every existing development application currently under assessment.

The mandatory controls which also include new building setbacks will be in place until final neighbourhood plans are set in late 2008. There are currently 21 proposals under assessment in Fishermans Bend at present.

A spokesperson for the Minister added some clarity around the language used in the media release, that developers are 'encouraged' to make 6% of units available for social housing:

  • Whilst the discretionary height limit controls (4-40 levels) are now mandatory and will remain in place until the neighbourhood plans are set in stone in late 2018, the social housing components are discretionary until this time as well.
  • Discretionary, in this sense, means that the Minister - as the responsible authority for Fishermans Bend - will look more favourably on new (or revamped existing) proposals which include a social housing component.
  • The Victorian Government is seeking to encourage the development community to forge relationships with social housing providers and overall will take a view on the market's response before implementing mandatory controls when the neighbourhood plans come into force in late 2018.


theboynoodle's picture

I think it would be great for the city if we got more families wanting to live in medium and high density developments, and getting more 3-bed (and larger) units is a part of that. However, my understanding is that these units are not currently being built because even the people that already would like to buy such units don't want to buy 'off plan'. That makes sense.. if you're looking for a new home for your family then you probably don't want to put your life in the hands of a developer and the stretchy timetables they work to. You might also be more inclined to want to see the property you're buying, as oppose to a drawing of it, than others.

Without off-plan buyers, projects don't get financed.

So I wonder how the government expects developers to work around this issue in FB?

Perhaps the 3-bed targets and the social housing targets will be met by the same units - if the government or housing associations can be persuaded to commit to those properties? Or perhaps we're going to hope that developers can persuade investors that buying larger units in mid/high rise to rent to ordinary families is a good move? The former is fine in principle, but I don't see it helping if high-density living for families is seen as something only those in social housing do. The latter seems like a tough sell.. because the target occupiers are likely those who'd like to buy, not rent.

It's an interesting issue. But I'm not sure that 'encouraging' developers down any path will get it done. Still.. credit to anything the state government can do to save this precinct from the moronic approach taken by their predecessors.

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ford wong's picture

There are questions to be answered.
I am owner of a Yarra Edge apartment. The commercial spaces were 80% vacant in the past 12 years.The market should adjust itself and should not be forced to have 15% commercail and community area. The owners of the apartment will have to pay for them.
6% social housing will increase the cost of the othe units. We don't expect the developer make loss and pay for the cost of this socail units.
I am paying over $12,000 co-op fee for my unit. Does this social unit pay the same or I have to pay more to cover them?
Imagine there are 6% social units in the "Melbournian" and other owners still willing to pay the premium to buy other units in this prestige building? Can this "social unit" aford to pay for the high co-op fee?
Socail housing is a problem for the Gov to solve but not give to the developer/unit owners of a certain area like Fishermen Bend.
The set back rules are for better living. It should not be for all developement. If there are 12m/30m street surrounding the building, why should the 12m set back required. 3 to 6m is plenty.
Podium was reduced from 8 to 5 and increase of commercial and community area. This result reduction of car parks. Since the public transport system will not be realized in the near future in Fisherman Bend, resident still need car to travel. This will create shortage of car parks and force people to park in the street.
I just don't understand what Wynne is thinking.
I have a question to ask Mr Wynne:-
There are over 20 applications in Fisherman Bend, does this means they have to throw away what they have now and spend money all over again to satify these requirement?

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Bilby's picture

Ford ...

What is Wynne thinking?

Carparking in cities is backward thinking - any way to avoid the need for cars is to be applauded in the 21st century.

Setbacks increase the liveability of streets and buildings alike, providing more sunlight and a less dominating, windy streetscape.

Social Housing can indeed pay for its own co-op / body corporate bills. This is factored into rent controlled agreements overseas - it can be here too.

If 6% social housing component causes a developer to "make a loss", then developers won't develop sites, will they? Or are you suggesting that developers don't know how to run a business?

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ford wong's picture

Hi Bilby,
I agree with you that car park are not neccessary in the city. We are talking about is Fisherman Bend. There are no mass transport system within 15 mins walk from most of the area. We the Yarra Edge resident have objected the tram bridge and the council promised to set aside. There will be no tram/rail in Fisherman Band for the next 15 to 20 years. People will still need cars in this area and they will park in the street.

Set back are good for some congested area and not neccessary for some. If your building has 2 streets frontage with 12 to 50m wide street, 6m the existing requirement is sufficient. 12m form sides and rear will use up 288 sm of the site, and nothing can be built on site less than 800 sm.
My apartment on Yarra Edge is facing the river with the rear facing the freeway. I can see the Bay form my apartment and got plenty of sunshine. So it is not a must for every development.

Oversea social housing is built by the Gov with 30% to 50% of the market value. The tax payer paid for them. I am paying A$12,000 for co-op fee. Social housing in oversea do not have gym, BBQ area, swimming pool, massage room and in-house manager which cost $250 per week. If you can pay $250 for the co-op fee, you should not be staying in social housing.

Put yourself in the developer's shoes. If you were the developer, would you use your own money to pay for the cost of building these 6% social housing? In order to break even, you have to add these cost to the other 94% of the buyers. You are right, as a developer, you will not build in Fisherman bend and find elsewhwere that do not have these regulations. Of course developer will not make a loss. But who pay for this expense? the Gov or the 94% buyers?

As a owner of my apartment, I am not complaining the new regulations. There will be no tram passing through my apartment and no new developement blocking my view on the Bay. I am pointing out concern for the future of Fisherman Bend and the land owners and developers.

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johnproctor's picture

you can't have it both ways Ford.

'no PT need more investment by government'

'object to tram bridge that would bring tram stop to my door'

I guarantee there'll be a tram in Fisherman's Bend within 10 years. If there isn't you'll probably be willing to personally contribute to the one you just objected too being built because your wealthy enclave will be inaccessible and unlivable.

Meanwhile your views on social housing are unfortunate. "thats government's problem" fuck those poor people. You're right it is government's problem and if they solve it directly we as taxpayers pay or if they solve it through other means like the 6% target per development in Fishermans Bend the taxpayer will still pay ultimately through various tax losses and other concessions given to the developers, the community housing associations and individuals.

Re: you're $12,000 body corp fees. I would expect that developers in new builds will very easily manage this process out at no additional cost to the equivalent of you in those buildings. Some options below:
- As already occurs in many buildings there would likely be tiered service provision within the apartments eg. those who pay $12,000 can access the level 22 services with gym, pool, cinema etc. And the social housing pay $3000 per year and only have access to lifts and basic common areas. (for example Pearl Tower has tiered access to services and tiered OC fees)
- Other developers on bigger sites might manage this through creating a premium building in a multi building development with no social housing and high body-corp fees. The other buildings might be a mix of social housing and slightly lower grade stock with less amenities.
- Another option would be for the 6% to be walk up flats addressing the street with limited access inside the building at all.
- Further its unlikely many of the walk ups would include a carpark so their body corporate fees would be reduced as well.

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theboynoodle's picture

The owners of the apartment will have to pay for them.
6% social housing will increase the cost of the othe units.

Actually it won't. Apartments will sell for their market value - and the market value doesn't care if the developer spent money on social housing or commercial units.

If anything, market forces will put downward pressure on units in buildings that have social housing or empty commercial space, because they are factors that will deter some buyers.

Also, believe it or not, body corporate fees are reflected in unit values. It's one of those invisible market things that just happens - but it's essentially part of the same force that drives prices up when interest rates go down.. buyers have a certain amount of cash available for their property, and that is a fixed amount. From that amount they pay their corporate fees and property taxes, and with what's left they can pay a mortgage. If corporate fees are high then there's less money to pay the mortgage and, thus, buyers will pay less for the apartment. So corporate fees for social housing are irrelevant.. even if they were nominally subsidised by other unit owners, the market mechanisms in play would push the incidence of that subsidy back onto the developer/landowner.

Economics is fun!

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ford wong's picture

Hi John,
I am for the tram in Fisherman Bend. The tram bridge only affects a few user of the marina and it can be raised for their passage. It is a pretty that many people objected building any more bridge on the Yarra. There will be light rail but not tram scheduled by the Gov.

The Fisherman Bend development required to pay A$16,000 per unit contribution and 8% of the land to open space or green path. This is not required in other part of Melbourne. The contribution is for community use. For a project opposite Yarra Edge, the 950 development is required to contribute over $15,000,000.

I can't swim and I don't do BBQ. I will be happy to pay $3,000 co-op fee if I can do so.

The Gov can easily charge more contribution fee and cover the this 6% social housing requirement. Over one million people lived in social housing in Hong Kong paying A$80 per week for a 2 beds room apartment. Over 30% of the Singaporean is living in "Gov Housing" paying less then 50% of the market value. They also have concession if they live with their aged parent with bigger apartment and less price.

Due to the "Equality Rules" in this countries, they cannot have the same resident living in the same building being treated difference. If they cannot afford it, The Social Dept will fund them to stay in these types of housing.

Most of the Waynne's ideas add cost to the unit price in Fisherman Bend. If these regulations are for all development in Victoria, although I don't agree, but it is fair.

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