Implications of changes to Melbourne’s Planning Scheme

September 14, 2015 / By  

The Melbourne City precinct has been the location of some ambitious development applications, which may be pared down given the recent introduction of mandatory planning controls.

The first overhaul of Melbourne’s Planning Scheme over the Capital City Zone since 1999 was announced on 4th September. This has been through the recent introduction of built form provisions under Amendment C262. Set to make a significant impact on future developments, it seeks to achieve more equitable and consistent development rights of CBD allotments.

New mandatory controls will remain active and enforceable for the coming year. Following a period of public consultation, Amendment C262 will either become a permanent long term provision or cease on the 4th September 2016. The interim controls are not retrospective so all applications lodged prior to September 4th 2015 will not be subject to the new controls.

Previous discretionary height controls will now become mandatory and vary depending on precinct. The Capital City Zone, Former Fishmarket Site Northbank, River Environs, Southbank and Bourke Hill precincts will all be subject to these provisions.

Mandatory overshadowing and wind analysis controls have further become compulsory across the CBD. This is specifically intended to preserve light and open space in public areas such as the Shrine of Remembrance, Flagstaff Gardens and Yarra River.

It is the inclusion of Mandatory Podium heights, setbacks requirements and site plot ratio that has perhaps sparked the greatest controversy to developers and the media.

    Podium heights – restricted to 40 metres

  • Street setback above podiums – minimum of 5 metres.
  • Tower setback to all boundaries for buildings – minimum 5 metres for buildings < 100m high and 5% of overall building height for those > 100m.

    NEW discretionary Plot ratio of 24:1

  • Developments within the Capital City Zone will now be limited to a plot ratio of 24:1. Developers can waive such provision given they provide offsets such as open space in their development projects.

Implications for owners and investors

The greatest impact is likely to be felt on smaller blocks where set back requirements and plot ratio make projects unviable.

Amendment C262 will have varied implications across Melbourne’s CBD.  The 40 metre podium height restriction will require an alteration of car parking design in some residential developments. This could be a significant issue in locations where the water table restricts basements.

Owners of sites with planning approval will not be subject to the new controls. However, if construction is delayed and the permit expires, then any subsequent permit application will be subject to the revised rules.

Additionally, there is concern that this unexpected announcement has the potential to unsettle investor confidence and certainty in this market place.

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