“I would have thought that if the situation is to be cut and dried in terms of limiting the height of buildings to no more than two-storeys, then the DDO provisions should be drafted to reflect this. Indeed, there are examples of such controls in other planning schemes”Comment from VCAT rejection of a council decision.
Three Storey Apartments Click to enlarge

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Three Storey min Height Click to enlarge

Three Storey min Height
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Manningham council’s DDO8 and Municipal Strategic Statement prescribes a maximum height of up to 10 metres where developments are limited to two storeys a height that can also accommodate a three storey of contemporary design. The minimum height needed for a two storey contemporary building is 6.5 metres and the minimum requirement for a three storey of similar design could be contained in less than 9.5 metres.

In requesting the C96 amendment in 2012 council had admitted ….”The current controls do not provide sufficient guidance

for development and have inadvertently led to ambiguity and at times, a greater scale of development than was intended within particular sub-precincts”.

So in 2012, following the above statement Manningham announced it would request an amendment to its residential strategy (DDO8) and had called for public comment. The changes council recommended were supposed to be in response to the 669 community submissions it had received, and many of them had been considered, but it seemed more to do with council wanting to introduce its high density Main Road precinct, with its higher buildings and no minimum land areas, than addressing the ambiguity in the “particular precincts” it had referred to.

Though it was prepared to remove the discretionary options for maximum heights and minimum land areas, Manningham refused to address community requests for a more appropriate maximum height limit in the schedule that would stop three storey contemporary buildings from occurring where only two storey developments were prescribed in the DDO8 schedule…….the common objection in many of the resident appeals against the over developments that council were previously approving.

Council must now be at sixes and sevens on how to deal with future development proposed in its residential strategy since Vcat have overturned a council rejection of the three storey proposal in Whittens Lane, in precinct B where lesser density is envisaged, even though Manningham asserted that it should have been two storeys according to its policy. The dilemma for council will now be whether to continue with its poorly conceived open ended schedule or have it amended to bring about a more realistic heights to storey ratio as VCAT have suggested. 


  1. Milton says:

    I cannot understand why Council had not altered the schedule to remove the obvious ambiguity when it requested the amendment, the fact that they hadn’t makes me suspect there might be collusion. I believe that Manningham council wanted this dodgy planning schedule to remain in place and allow VCAT to overrule it by exposing the flaws in the DDO8 provisions as they had at 88 Whittens Lane and set a precedent that would favour three storey over two storey buildings across the development precincts. In the past council could depend on VCAT to dismiss resident appeals that had cited the same contradiction as what VCAT are now referring to but VCAT appear to have back flipped and are now saying the schedule is flawed and inconsistent and have therefore overruled council.

    1. Bernard T says:

      It will be interesting to see if council reject the three storey town house style proposal at 51 Beverley Street, East Doncaster. Because it does not conform to the terms and conditions applicable to land areas under 1800 m2 of the sub Precinct A schedule where only two storey developments are permitted. My gut feeling is that council will reject it and let the proponent go to VCAT who will approve it. A council decision on the matter may be delayed until the holiday period.
      I am also suspicious of council …Why have they prescribed a height so far in excess of what would be needed for two storeys? Why is there only a one metre difference between height prescribed for three storeys (11 metres) and two storeys (up 10 metres)?

  2. Francis Day says:

    If Manningham is to follow the advice of VCAT and rewrite the schedule to “reflect” a limit of two storeys where prescribed, why not adopt the same formula it uses to limit buildings to three storeys i.e. 3 x 3m + 2m = 11m? Therefore 2 x 3m + 2 = 8m should be the height limit for two storeys. Whilst council prefers the flat roof contemporary design either height limit could allow a pitch roof.

  3. Deepdene says:

    There is not enough profit margin in developing a two storey apartment building or a terraced town house complex especially when the costs associated with the procuring of land are added.

    That’s why council had been reluctant to include two storeys in the planning schedule but had to pacify the community who wanted lower density two storey buildings.

    Manningham then introduced a one metre leeway for slope that could be added to the 9 metre two storey height criteria which then provided the option for a three storey building.

    The one metre slope allowance is NOT included in the three storey 11 metre height criteria which effectively precludes the option for a four storey building.

    The decision pending on a three storey contemporary building at 51-53 Beverley Street, East Doncaster, which should be two storeys, could be the turning point. If the matter goes to Vcat it could force the Manningham council to declare whether it wants to rule out two storey developments altogether or do the right thing and rewrite the schedule.

    1. Amelia Jane says:

      It makes no sense to have a condition where three storey contemporary buildings can only occur on a minimum land size of 1800 m2 while the maximum height criteria allows them to be built on smaller blocks where only two storey developments are prescribed.

  4. A Tang says:

    let us be fair here. Council had warned the public well before finalising the C96 amendment, that three storeys could easily be designed within the height allowed for the two storey limit. This is why three storeys have been proposed on smaller blocks in sub precinct A and in the area of sub Precinct B. e.g. “No minimum lot size is specified in precinct B” ” While Council’s policy encourages two storey dwellings within 9 metres, (or 10 metres on sloping land) a three storey building can still be designed (using council’s preferred character concept) within the specified height limit”
    Economic logic rules out two storey buildings in the growth zones. VCAT will overrule council’s decisions and the consultants will have a picnic with all the loose ends unless we change the wording of the DDO8 schedule.

  5. David Willison says:

    Council will argue that the DDO8 schedule has been tightened now that the maximum heights can no longer be varied but what good is that if they are beyond what is required. It would be stupid to suggest that a developer would want to build a two storey contemporary dwelling 3.5 metres below a maximum height limit of up to 10 metres. Council had the opportunity to change the two storey height limit when the C 96 amendment was requested but for some reason they were not able to do so.
    If the Vcat statement is accepted, as I am advised it will, then we won’t have two storey developments anywhere in the growth zones.
    David Willison

  6. Anonymous says:

    If we are to follow policy as we have in our three storey maximum height formula (11 metres no slope allowance) why can’t we introduce a more realistic maximum height for a two storey building of say 8 metres (as have a number of other councils) instead of up to 10 metres which allows three storeys.
    A maximum heights of 8 metres and 11 metres, for two and three storeys respectively, would follow Manningham’s MSS policy and also provide the option for a pitched roof.
    If everyone is to be bound by our planning scheme, including ministers, government departments, public authorities and councils etc. then we have a responsibility to ensure that it makes sense.

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