Arguable Focus of C96 High Densiy Zone Changes

Sandman Oz sent this in today – tying several aspects back together…

It has been argued that the need to request amendment 96 was more to do with rectifying the mistakes made in the current table 1 to schedule 8. For example, is the 9 metre height limit, without a slope allowance, mandatory for smaller sites in precinct A, as per the current schedule 8? “Building Heights and Setbacks”: “Any building or works must comply with the requirements set out in Table 1 of this Schedule”.

(It does not refer to minimum land areas) It is my understanding that there are three proposals in precinct A, already delayed in their processing, that could be appealed on this basis.

It is notable that a senior planning officer stated in the Manningham leader (June 12); while waiting for the panel decision, “we will make two recommendations on planning applications based on present rules and the amendment”.

We were astounded when Manningham Council published the following spurious statement to help justify its request for the amendment. C96: “Since 2007, emerging development trends, escalating building and land costs have resulted in developers maximising the development potential of land within DDO8. Council is experiencing developers using the controls to maximise development potential of land, often at the cost of design and amenity impacts, in particular side setbacks and accompanying landscaping. Council is continuing to experience pressure for development that is considered to not be an appropriate transition to the adjoining residential areas. In addition, Council is experiencing very little distinction between the built form in Sub-precinct A and Sub-precinct B.”

The reality is the “pressure” “and very little distinction etc., is coming from council planners, who don’t want to “lose” developers. In fact they have quite blatantly aided and abetted developers to contravene schedule’s provisions.

Take for example the following summary by a the head Council planner when recommending the proposal at 97 Whittens Lane, be issued a permit. (minutes August 2010) 4.1.”It is recognised that the development is fairly “intensive” (3m metre below NGL) and will require significant earthworks, with the associated disruption to local residents by way of earthworks and soil transfer. The high dwelling yield is achieved in part by sinking the ground floor living area into the slope and relying on an atypical provision of light wells and sunken courtyards. While this is the first apartment design in Manningham to propose this arrangement, this is no reason to oppose it”!!

Yet the conditions of the DDO8 “a development must be designed and sited to minimise the need for earthworks by either siting the building on the flattest part of the site or by designing the building to step with the land”, were not even argued.

Amendment C96 proposed to:

  • Introduce a Main Road sub-precinct; This was simply reverting back to what was proposed in the original request for the C50 amendment, subsequently rejected by the panel. Main Road precinct is still shown on the old maps. Same provisions as the current precinct A, although not specifically stated in the proposed schedule, they will be made discretionary.


  • Strengthen the distinction between sub-precincts A and B; This does not appear to have been achieved. Bulk, scale and height in Sub-Precinct B will probably be the same as applied in 95 % of the developments proposed in Precinct A.


  • Introduce mandatory a maximum building height and a minimum lot size in specified sub-precincts to provide greater clarity regarding the scale and form of development is encouraged in each of the three sub-precincts; I believe heights and setbacks are already mandatory. (Not minimum land areas)  Heading: Height & Setbacks  Any building or works must comply with the requirements set out in Table 1 to Schedule 8, The mandatory initiative which got all the press as the panacea and the catalyst for providing clarity, was misleading. Councillors and Officers were publicly stating that at last we have some certainty etc. The reality is that in the 6 years since the strategy’s approval, minimum land areas have been strictly adhered to as have maximum heights as per table 1 from schedule 8, except for an odd development exceeding it by only 200-350mm. (Usually a small section of the roof) Specifying Maximum heights is meaningless whilst developments, such as 97Whittens Lane, are allowed to lower living areas below the natural ground level. The slope allowance from 9m to 10m is still measured above NGL even when entire floor levels are configured well below natural ground level. Some proposals in precinct A, measure over 12 metres from the slab of the living area to the roofline, but because the building is “planted” three metres into the  ground, they are deemed to comply with a height of 9m above the natural ground level.


  • Specifying a maximum 60% site coverage in Clause 21.05 and the schedule to the DDO8 overlay control; A site coverage 60% is not covered in the current schedule but B8 of rescode had been referred to when required. Developers were okay on this there were no objections.

  • Specifying an additional design objective in the schedule to DDO8 to limit below ground light courts so that living spaces have suitable access to natural light; What is required here is a clause to ensure living areas are not unduly configured below the NGL. One method would be to specify developments, with a sloped site height allowance, (from 9m to 10m) be required to raise finished floor levels by one metre. This would help equalise the development potential with the 9m height limit applicable to a level site. The current conditions of the DDO8 states that a development must be designed and sited to minimise the need for earthworks by either siting the building on the flattest part of the site or by designing the building to step with the land”  this will be replaced with a useless condition that will rely on council’s ( or worse still Vcat’s) interpretation: “Avoid reliance on below ground light courts for any habitable rooms”

From Sandman Oz.

Final_Schedule 8__mann_Adoption Version_28 May   Current Schedule 8 Manningham Planning Scheme 2013 pre C96

One Response to “Arguable Focus of C96 High Densiy Zone Changes”

  1. Harold B. says:

    Sandman does have a point.
    The current schedule makes no sense. It actually makes it possible for higher development in areas where lower heights are promoted.
    The schedule 8, table 1 stipulates a maximum height increase (from 9m to 10m), for apartment proposals on sloped sites in the lower scale sub-precinct B, yet developments in the high density zones of sub-precinct A, irrespective of slope, are restricted to a maximum height of 9 metres.
    It could hardly have been an oversight because schedule 8 (DDO8) had been written and approved by Manningham Council before requesting the previous amendment C50 in Sept 2005. The document was later put on public exhibition before being scrutinised by an independent panel prior to being gazetted in 2007.
    Why the disparity? The most plausible explanation comes from an ex-councillor:
    “We wanted to encourage larger developments, four storeys with minimal excavation, in sub-precinct A, by introducing an 11 metre maximum height for sites above 1800sqm which would usually mean the consolidation of three average size allotments. Smaller sites, where 1800sqm could not be achieved, were restricted to a height limit of just 9 metres. We decided not to allow the extra one metre for slope, 9m up to 10m, as we had in precinct B, since the narrow height differential might not have been practical or provided sufficient incentive for land consolidation. However, the low demand for high density apartments in the period since the strategy’s inception, the high costs and hindrances associated with site consolidation have caused council to review heights, and include, in the request for amendment C96, a slope allowance (from 9m to 10m) for all smaller sites throughout precinct A. Unfortunately this will mean the objective to establish a clear cut distinction between the majority of developments in sub-precinct A, and that of sub-precinct B, will not be achieved. Any difference that might be achieved, between the newly proposed Main Road precinct and sub-precincts A and B, will depend upon future apartment demand and the extent of council’s discretionary options, exclusive to this sector”.
    Harold B

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