Response to c96 Denisty changes – history lesson

Why is it important to be very clear and avoid abiguity when defining planning rules?

And why must we all make sure that we track and challenge the council? Well this history lesson from some-one who has been there before spells it out…

Despite all council’s undertakings and assurances it is unlikely we will have many two storey apartment developments, particularly in sub-precinct A, if at all.

During a Spring Street rally last year, we approached the then Shadow Minister for planning, who in the previous government had allegedly signed off on decisions pertaining to the DDO8, to ask for his signature to a petition calling for a two storey limit in sides streets and courts, to our surprise he was happy to oblige.

This supports the opinion that the Planning Minister has no role in most planning decisions, so after the last C50 panel hearing, when they said the Minister had refused to accept certain recommendations from the panel, we knew it had been decided by some faceless bureaucrat within the DPCD.

Apart from the zoning and the intent of the DDO8, in various publications, editions of Manningham Matters, and on the Council website, following the C50 panel report, there was no mention of the late changes. Our first inkling came more than two years later when council began accepting three storey developments on smaller sites.

Despite the clear undertaking, in media statements and letters to affected residents, prescribed number of storeys were removed from the development schedules of sub-precinct A and Main Road, it was determined that prescribing height alone would be less ambiguous, but with a height criteria of 11 metres applicable to sub-precinct A, what is to stop a four storey proposal?. Yet, in contrast, council have restricted development in sub-precinct B by recently specifying a limit of single and two storeys.


Even the previous panel appeared to have accepted the storeys/height/land area criteria;

Mr P. Cocker of Franklin Road, a submitter, requested that his area, defined as precinct A, two or three storeys depending on land size, be changed to fit the criteria applicable to the less intense development of sub-precinct B (2 storeys/9metres). The panel responded in part by asserting that, given its location near activity centres, it should retain its current zoning. The panel then went onto say that given the form of development generally occurring in the area of Franklin Road (precinct A) and costs associated with site consolidation, “it is likely that most redevelopment in this area will continue to be 1 and 2 storey development, which should be supported in an area surrounding activity centres”.


A two storey development is generally regarded by the layperson as having to two residential levels. While council were trying to sell the DDO8 to the community, Doncaster was already undergoing substantial redevelopment from the decade before it, mainly in the form of two storey town house clusters and dwellings that now dominate the area. e.g. Whittens lane has over 100 two storey town houses, and likewise the Queens Avenue area, are examples of this trend.

Far from creating more certainty, this change means that developers can cram three storeys where only two were previously allowed on a land below 1800m2. The Recent Vcat appeals against apartment developments on smaller sites, in sub-precinct A, such as Curlew Court, Queens Avenue, Talford Street and Whittens Lane have all been challenged for that very reason. In the case of a single allotment at 97 Whittens lane, Council went as far as allowing the proposal to sink the first floor below natural ground level to help achieve three storeys within 9 metres.

From Councils own promotional material;

Lot Size

“Council has sought to ensure that any three- storey development is sited on a sufficient sized block of land to enable the building to be setback a sufficient distance from property boundaries and provide opportunities for landscaping. C50 proposes that in areas around Activity Centres and along Main Roads, three-storey ‘apartment-style’ development, will only be considered on a consolidated lot of 2,000m2 or more, which equates to three (3) average sized residential lots” (later reduced to 1800m2).

The above development at 2 Merlin Street is an example of how a two storey dwellings on a smaller site of 900m2 appears, imagine how it would it would look with 3 storeys. The Merlin development was rejected by Manningham, back in 2003 when it was known as Res code 1, on the grounds it was an overdevelopment of the site *Density of proposal inappropriate; *Proposal is out of character with surrounding neighbourhood; Above are two storey houses opposite in Clay Drive, all now in the area of Sub precinct A.

The information presented to the previous panel in regard to the west extension of Hepburn Road to Frederick Street appears to be in doubt. It would seem that 1500m2 of the Hansen site at 2 Clay Drive, designated as 2 C, a 40m prescribed height within the DH periphery, would have to be compulsory acquired to facilitate the roadway. This would not only require an alteration to the boundary of DH but would also be huge burden on ratepayers, even at its current value, we would need to find over Four Million Dollars. We have received a wide range of explanations as to a solution; one officer said the whole extension plan was under review, another declared council were “committed to it”. Although those who claim familiar with this situation believe that “council would need first to acquire the entire area of the Hansen site itself, then subdivide which would not be possible”.

Warren Welsh

These three supporting documents further set the back ground from 2005 and around Doncaster Hill . C50-Letter-to-Affected-Parties  Building Heights  Manningham Leader Articles On Residential Strategy

The explaination above was in response to the coucncils stance that building heights are a more thorough measure than storeys, see below…

Sent: Monday, 26 November 2012 10:47 AM
Subject: Response to email re Amendment C96

Good morning Mr Welsh
I refer to your email addressed to Leigh Harrison, Teresa Dominik and Steve Goldsworthy dated 14 November 2012, regarding the way in which building heights are expressed in Amendment C96 to the Manningham Planning Scheme.

You will recall that the preparation of Amendment C96 was in response to a Council recommendation made on 27 March 2012 as part of the adoption of the Manningham Residential Strategy.  That recommendation was made in response to the submissions to the Manningham Residential Strategy that raised concerns about the form of residential development being built in the DDO8 areas, including building height.

Two key planning controls in the Manningham Planning Scheme provide guidance in assessing applications in areas along main roads and around activity centres – Clause 21.05 (Residential) of the Municipal Strategic Statement and Schedule 8 to the Design and Development Overlay (DDO8).

The proposed statutory provisions in the Municipal Strategic Statement (Clause 21.05) and Schedule 8 to the DDO make reference to number of storeys, i.e. three storey development, in addition to a maximum building height specified in metres. The use of storeys was used to give the community and designers a visual impression of the height of development to be promoted in each sub-precinct.

Specifying a maximum building height is more precise and minimises ambiguity. In comparison, the word ‘storey’ is less specific, as the floor to ceiling heights of a building can vary considerably.  For example, a building may be two storeys, but the floor to ceiling heights could be such that the overall height could be greater than 9 or 10 metres.  A three storey building could also be designed within 9 or 10 metres, particularly if a building has a flat roof. It is also noted that under the Building Code of Australia an owner could build a three storey house on a block of land without requiring a planning permit. Therefore, it is difficult to legislate against a three storey development, when a property owner could build such a form of development without a planning permit.  It is considered that stipulating maximum building height in metres is more specific than making reference to ‘storeys’ and minimises ambiguity.

However this issue has been raised in a number of the submissions to Amendment C96 and will therefore be considered by the independent panel appointed by the Minister for Planning to consider all the submissions.

Council’s ‘final position‘ on Amendment C96 will not be made until the independent panel has considered all the submissions and has provided its report back to Council.  The Planning and Environment Act 1987 specifies that at that time Council can decide whether or not to adopt the amendment or part of the amendment with or without changes.


Vivien Williamson

Mannager Economic & Environmental planning , Mannigham Council.

One Response to “Response to c96 Denisty changes – history lesson”

  1. Barbara Carlisle says:

    Below is Council’s response to a submitter, at the end of the exhibition period of the DDO8 strategy, just before its presentation to the previous panel C50. Note that the only change Council proposed was that the minimum land area allowing three storey developments be reduced to 1800sqm.
    “Care has been taken to mitigate canyoning along Main Roads (same would apply to the side Streets of Sub-precinct A), by proposing spacing between dwellings and the stepping of the upper storeys of a building. Furthermore, the exhibition of documentation proposes three storey development with a maximum building height of eleven metres can only occur on lots with an area greater than 2,000m-. It should be noted that the Council report recommends reducing this area to 1,800m2. This proposed requirement is greater than the current provisions. Given the need to consolidate sites, it is highly unlikely that there will be a continuous row of three storey developments along Main Roads”.
    Barbara Carlisle

Leave a Response

Currently you have JavaScript disabled. In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. Click here for instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your browser.