Unless there are changes to the DDO8 schedule to reflect council’s policy of restricting buildings to two and three storeys, in prescribed areas of Sub-precincts A and B, council’s policy will continue to be challenged by applications for three, four and even five storey buildings throughout these areas. Such buildings, besides their Five storey in Citrus Ct increase in floor areas (higher density), tend to be larger and bulkier and can result in far more amenity and infrastructure impacts in these lower density zones.
The diagram shows a block outline form and how a 9 metre building would sit in the streetscape against a typical two storey building and a single storey dwelling. These flat roof buildings will have a tendency to dominate local streetscape character to a greater extent than what was typical of previous townhouse development. There is significant concern in the community that the height limit, 9 m, now up to 10 m on sloping ground, coupled with there being no limit on the number of storeys in the DDO8, will result in a change detremental to the character of the lower density areas.
Susan Howard of Doncaster, a RAIDID member and submitter to the C96 amendment hearing, believes that development could be better controlled by simply prescribing a limit on the number of storeys in conjunction with maximum heights limits in the DDO8 schedule in concert with the Maningham Strategic Statement, in a letter to Mr Joe Carbone, Maningham CEO, she writes;
Dear Sir, Re: Lack of clarity and certainty in Amendment C96/DD08 fails Manningham
When the above Amendment was approved by the Minister for Planning, Manningham Council stated in a letter to submitters (14 February 2014) that the Amendment would provide greater clarity and certainty for designers and decision makers.
Two recent VCAT hearings that have gone against Council, highlighting the lack of clarity and discrepancies in controls between the MSS and Amendment C96/DD08, will continue to haunt future developments and continue to see developers/residents taking their cases to VCAT. By failing to include both the maximum height and the prescribed number of storeys into the control this manner of decision making by Manningham Council has failed the intent of the Amendment, thereby, failing to provide the clarity and certainty to the Manningham community.
As CEO, I seek your help to instigate an urgent review. I sincerely trust you can bring this matter to the attention of the Planning Officers and Councillors to readdress. Residents raised this issue at the start of the community consultation process but Council failed to respect the concerns of the community. This has been clearly exemplified by the VCAT hearings which Council lost:
1) VCAT Member Mr. Cimino (Workroom Design v Manningham) not agreeing with Manningham Council and DID grant a permit in favour of Workroom Design. Council opposed the proposal for 84-88 Whittens Lane, Doncaster due to its concerns about the building height, scale and form of the proposed development;
2) VCAT Member Rachel Naylor (Vellios v Manningham) not agreeing with Manningham Council and DID NOT grant a permit – opposing Manningham’s approval to grant a permit – due to its very scale, bulk and critically not meeting the true intent of the controls set by Manningham in wanting to have a clear direction of its preferred neighbourhood character.
Both the Hearings strike at the core of the community consultation process, the whole process required that the controls gave the community clarity and certainty.
I was surprised that such an obvious flaw was not addressed while negotiating Amendment C96. Instead, Council persisted with an unconvincing explanation there was a possibility that attics or mezzanines might be employed in developments, thus, prescribing heights in conjunction with storeys would be problematic. Is not providing clarity problematic? How many times will Manningham Council end up at VCAT – at the expense of ratepayers? Prescribing the number of storeys in conjunction with the height in metres is the key. Highlighting this fact further is that many other Councils do prescribe storeys in conjunction with the height limits.
It is concerning as to why Council would consider granting a permit to a development that Council was aware had an upper level referred to as level 4 as viewed from Hanke Road and level 5 as viewed from Citrus Court. Mr. Crowder described the proposed podium in Hanke Road as being between “2 and 3 storeys and a bit”. What is “a bit”? Ms Naylor makes clear her view which is detrimental to Council’s decision-making. She also states that the application: “does not respond to the intent of DD08 being to achieve three storey apartment buildings with a two storey podium and smaller third storey element”. .
Residents concerns about 3-storey and 4-storey applications (and even part 5-storey as shown in the Vellios case) are not unfounded. Manningham Council has had a reluctance to specify storeys in conjunction with the height criteria of the development overlay, not only for sites in precinct B and those on smaller sites in precinct A, but also on land areas over 1800sqm, where a height of 11 metres is prescribed in the DDO8. This is contrary to the residential policy contained in clause 21.05 of the MSS which limits the number of storeys in conjunction with heights where they are applicable in Precinct A and B – ie 2-storeys and ten metres (on slopes) and 3-storeys and eleven metres.
Mr. Cimino highlights the inconsistency between the MSS and the DDO:
“The MSS indicates that only single and two-storey development will be considered, yet the DDO itself does not set such a limit.” He says: “If the Council seeks a clear cut building height, then it should seek to include such a requirement in a statutory control like a DDO”.
We have confusion which allows for contrary arguments between residents, developers, design makers – the complete opposite of the intent of Manningham Council’s declaration to provide clarity and certainty to decision makers. VCAT Members will question Manningham’s intent and choose to interpret as they see fit. Thus we witnessed, and will continue to witness, Council failing to protect residents’ interests as has been shown above but equally developers are left diminished.
There is substantial and incremental change within these new sub-precincts but development must be mindful of the original intent of Amendment C96/DDO8. Manningham Council chose to defend one stance with “it is not a case of development at any cost” as stated by Mr. Cimino and yet Council chose to fight against Vellios and not recognise the bulk and scale.
Manningham is providing greater dwelling capacity but the original intent was never safe-guarded. We cannot safely say a balance is being achieved, neither can one respect the preferred neighbourhood character that Council wishes to impose, if Council continues to negate the elephant in the room – prescribing storeys within the Amendment. Council has failed the very constituents it is meant to represent. I trust I will not be advised that such a review cannot be undertaken. Mr. Cimino clearly states otherwise and Ms Rachel Naylor highlighted that she was fully aware of a revised version of DDO8 being undertaken and this was taken into account – so it can be revised again.
I look forward to hearing from you.