HIGHER BUILDINGS IN COURTS AND SIDE STREETS
New regulations will now require council to address the uncertainty created by its stubborn refusal to prescribe the number of storeys to be achieved within its mandatory height limits.
This is welcome news for community groups, whose previous requests for similar reform had been ignored by Council, but there is a catch, if the new Reformed Residential Zones are applied as proposed it could mean higher density buildings in Areas Surrounding Activity Centres and Along Main Roads (Side Streets and Courts) formerly sub-Precincts A and B. This area is now referred to as the General Residential Zone, where three storey buildings, possibly apartments, will have a height limit of at least 11 metres and could now be built on reduced minimum land areas.
These new requirements are expected to be introduced into the planning when the current review is eventually completed, in the meantime council will be approving proposals based on the old criteria.
The main issue raised by VCAT was the mismatch council had created between the Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS) and the Schedule 8 to the Design and Development Overlay (DDO8)) despite the fact that the Planning and Environment Act 1987 requires the Municipal Strategic Statement to be consistent with the DDO8. VCAT would approve one development based on the DDO8 and reject another using the MSS. It even got to a stage where council would recommend refusal of a development based on “community sensitivity” if a higher number of objections were received. DDO8 MSS
The Residential Growth Zone (RGZ), previously called the Main Road Precinct will retain a discretionary height of 13.5 metres for buildings with the option to set a higher mandatory height limit.
The Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ), the lower scale area, will have a mandatory maximum height of 9 metres and 2 storeys with potential to exceed this height only in particular circumstances such as flooding issues or on steep slopes.
The diagrams on the left indicate minimum heights for two and three storeys but do not include the build up of foundation walls (max 1.2 metres) which are usually avoided. Currently, three storey buildings are only permitted where land areas are 1,800 sqm or more, though this requirement is not discretionary, special dispensation has been given to a number of developers.
The key changes to the Neighbourhood Residential Zone are the removal of the previous restriction on the maximum number of dwellings per lot and to remove previous references to limiting opportunities for increased residential development and the implementation of character policy/adopted guidelines.
The NRZ must contain the neighbourhood heritage, environment or landscape character objective for the area to be achieved.