Manningham anticipated that the eastern freeway extension to Springvale Road would significantly reduce traffic volumes along Doncaster road. This had provided the opportunity to transform the character of the road from a state highway carrying heavy traffic to a tree lined boulevard. 
Low Rise Building Click to Enlarge

Low Rise Residential Building
Click to Enlarge

 The 1997  Three Storey River of Life  proposal as part of the State Government’s  Living Suburbs scheme was the last opportunity for Manningham council to control the size of development on Doncaster Hill. Councillors had accepted the the lower height of buildings  but voted against the strategy due to car parking issues. During this period, all councils were required to produce a new format planning scheme which incorporated the new State wide planning provisions. The principles of the State Government’s ‘Living Suburbs’, a Policy for Metropolitan Melbourne into the 21st century for the State Government of Victoria 1995, were to be adopted in ‘The River of Life’.
 This was seen as a godsend for the Council staff, who were getting anxious about the prospect of

Shoppingtown Precinct Click to Enlarge

Shoppingtown Precinct
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Manningham being a casualty of the Kennett Government’s consolidation of councils plan, for the opportunity to play a major role in the scheme. This came on the heels of Council’s disastrous commercial plan adjacent to Westfield shopping centre which was left looking more like the aftermath of a bombing raid due to a downturn in the economy which resulted in most of the buildings being abandoned, half finished. While Manningham planners were dithering on The River of Life, along came the Government’s 2030 Activity Centre Planning Scheme, which had superseded the Living Suburbs Scheme, encouraging more high rise and high density which was seen as a boon for land owners on Doncaster Hill because Manningham had no height restrictions. What followed was a rush of building applications…one Doncaster Hill land owner with uninterrupted views of the city is said to have sought approval for a twenty storey apartment building, another wanted a permit for ten storeys and so on. According to a past councillor Manningham Council were powerless to control heights. “Vcat would have approved any height application if a council rejection was appealed so a meeting of land owners to discuss a more orderly height strategy was convened”. This resulted in the ridiculous height limits, up to 40 metres, we have today making Doncaster Hill one of the largest Activity Centres in outer Melbourne with the least amount of appropriate infrastructure. “I cannot speak for the staff and previous councillors but I believe we had no alternative but to get on board and support the scheme. There have been complaints at the manner in which Manningham have promoted Doncaster Hill with all the reports made to fit, the expensive planning, propaganda and the one way consultation process but at the end of the day we had to portray the strategy in the best light.”


















  1. Anonomye says:

    After the failure to obtain councillor approval of the River of Life and the collapse of the commercial plan in Doncaster Road opposite Westfield Shopping centre, the Manningham Council had resigned itself to being carved up among its neighbouring municipalities under the Kennett government’s consolidation program. This would have been a bonus for ratepayers who would have cheaper rates and improved services etc. but not for the highly paid Manningham executive and staff who would lose their jobs. Then out of the blue came a life line in the form of the newly established 2030 State Planning Authority inviting all metropolitan councils to lodge a high rise/high density Activity Centre plan. Manningham council seized the opportunity and were the first municipality to lodge a plan….officials of the State planning were astonished at how quickly Manningham had responded. This was also timely for the government who were able to use the Doncaster Hill strategy in its election campaign.
    How was Manningham able to respond so quickly? Answer.. They simply ignored the proper procedure by bypassing the community consultation process and replacing it with “information sessions” AFTER the plan had been approved by councillors. The only choices available to the community was concerning incredibly trivial things like the type of bus shelters, facilities where older people might meet etc. etc. The reality was that the community did not want the huge development and would have voted against it had they been allowed the opportunity.

  2. Amelia says:

    The tragedy is that these high density monsters, that will overstretch our infrastructure, are now being built thanks to the FIRB (Federal Investment Regulation Board) which is allowing overseas investors to build or purchase new properties. Most of the Asian investors, buying Doncaster Hill apartments off the plan through overseas intermediaries, are not concerned about the lack of local demand or the fact there is no capital gain. According to Sqm research, apartment asking prices in Doncaster have fallen by 10% in the last three years. Their main purpose is to place their money in a safe place (land banking), like Australia, which is seen as the Switzerland of Asia.

  3. Nick says:

    The reason why there is no capital gain for apartments on Doncaster Hill is because of its lack of infrastructure. It is the only Activity Centre without a railway station, there is no employment to speak of, no tertiary education, no hospital and the topography of the area is unsuitable for walking and too dangerous for cycling.

  4. Handyman says:

    I wonder whether the Bunnings store is going ahead. I believe there are issues about it being so close to Westfield and what their combined impact would have on traffic flow in Doncaster Road. Council approved the project more than two years ago but there is still no activity on the site. The traffic report accompanying the permit application looked a bit dicey to me. Council traffic engineers were concerned at the long queues of vehicles in Council Street, the only collector road servicing the entire northern area of the adjacent precinct, and there were no measures to prevent large trucks from exiting the site via Council Street opposite the primary school. The proposed intersection of the internal driveway and Council Street is not designed for such large trucks which do not have the capacity to undertake a u-turn on site to exit via Council Street.

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