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.

Residential Density           Click to Enlarge

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.

Three Storey Apartments
Click to enlarge

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.


Click to enlarge

Click to Enlarge

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.


  1. Louise says:

    Will the community be able to vote on these changes?

  2. Talford says:

    We can vote to remove the Councillors but that won’t change anything. Councillors are tuppence a dozen and are used as stooges. It is the planning officers who should be removed. This is planning by stealth and misrepresentation to get what they wanted in the very first place.
    When Council call for a review it usually results in the ratepayers being worse off.

  3. Campo says:

    It is part of State Government’s plan to concentrate populations, mostly from Asia, around Activity Centres for access to services. If Council caved into residents and responded to complaints Government could step in and take over planning.
    Manningham have tried to please everyone by the wish washy worded documents that make no sense so in order to reduce objections. Residents have realised the futility of appealing against high density developments.

  4. Geraldine says:

    It is time to move on for those who don’t like what is planned. The later you leave it the less you will get below the market value of your property. In the future it will only be developers who will buy your land and they will have plenty of alternatives to choose from.

  5. Warren says:

    I have a letter from the Manningham Director of Planning, dated the 10th of January 2019, that suggests a three storey building would be possible in sub-Precinct B, a lower scale area of development currently restricted to two storeys, even though the maximum height can easily accommodate a three storey building.
    It also goes on to say that a current review of the Council’s residential policies and residential zones is underway to address the major inconsistency between the State’s Reformed Residential zones and Council’s DDO8.

  6. Lee says:

    They should have stuck to what they had promised in the first place and they would not have created the inconsistency. Two storeys were supposed to be the limit but nearly all the approved developments have been three storey. It’s no wonder the government have stepped in.

    1. T Guest says:

      You can’t have developments limited to double storey otherwise the overseas developers will build elsewhere. The two and three two storey units you see in Franklin Street are a thing of the past and will eventually be demolished for higher density. The review will not please residents who are hostile to development.

    2. Talford says:

      If the Municipal Strategic Statement, the policy document that stipulates the type of dwellings and the areas where Manningham wants higher density to occur, is not given priority in the current findings then there is very little point in having the MSS let alone conducting the review..

  7. DH says:

    It was anything goes five years ago when the DDO8 was only guidelines…..we found that out the hard way! They approved a four storey, 29 apartment, complex next door leaving us with no option but to sell up and buy in Templestowe… Not an easy move with three young children. At least there will be rules put in place to prevent this sort of thing happening again.

    1. Lyn says:

      Cronyism was rife in the early days. If only people knew what was going on with these “consultants” that council were engaging. One particular study they commissioned was conducted by a consultant who had previously worked with Manningham Council. Later when asked was there any past association between Manningham Council and the consultant the officers response was no.

  8. Brooker says:

    Larger areas will be in high demand so owners of adjoining lots should get together and negotiate direct with developers and encourage others to do the same. This was successful on Doncaster Hill for owners of land in the streets around Westfield.

  9. Judith says:

    It is surprising that Manningham council would previously decide not to specify the number of storeys but instead specify maximum heights only in its DDO8 schedule despite a high number of community submissions. If there had to be a choice between one or the other then a limit on storeys would have been a far wiser plan. Reason being that any departure from standard ceiling heights would be an unnecessary and costly exercise for developers. e.g. longer wall studs, four courses of brickwork per .300 mm around the entire building, extra lintels above windows to support brickwork, larger plaster sheets and plasterer labour costs etc.. A limit on storeys would have a tendency to lower building heights especially where contemporary buildings are concerned. A two storey building , even allowing for a maximum 1.2 metre foundation wall build up, a two storey contemporary dwelling could still be built within a height of 7.5 metres.
    Example of a two storey building composition Viz: 1.200 m, the maximum foundation build up allowed + .300 m for a slab floor + 2.700 m ground floor + .300 m for slab in between floors + 2.700 m for second storey + .300 for skillion contemporary roof == 7.5 metres. Which is well under the maximum height of up to the 10 metres allowed for buildings on small sites

    1. Nick says:

      Depending on the direction of the slope, developers may want to avoid a basement wall build up entirely. This could result in two and three storey contemporary buildings as low as 6.3 metres and 9.3 metres respectively. With the likely outcome of lower and more realistic heights, council might be tempted to increase the number of storeys to four which they can do under the GRZ guidelines.

  10. RT says:

    There are only three councillors out of nine who represent the Koonung ward where most redevelopment is occurring. A fairer representation might be for five in Koonung and two in both the Heidi and Mullum Mullum wards. There is one councillor, representing a ward outside of Koonung, who has assumed the role as a gatekeeper for the residential strategy and votes for any development that is proposed, hoping to curry favor with the Manningham heirachy.

  11. Amelia Tang says:

    The flow of money from China, after regulations changed to allow overseas investors to purchase new dwellings or properties off the plan, responsible for 80% of Manningham’s redevelopment, is about to dry up. In fact I have heard that its Government has taken steps to have some of this money returned to China. Presumably this would apply to its own residents who bought Doncaster apartments through intermediaries based in China. Hardly the time to be selling when real estate prices are in free fall.

  12. Son of Judith says:

    I never thought I would ever see car stacker parking in a town house development but that is what a developer plans to introduce in a multi unit project at 15 Glendale Avenue. Whether councillors will have a say in the matter is problematic since proposals of this type in lower density areas are usually determined by the Manningham Planning division. The proponent wants to use them so that single garages can be adopted instead of double so that the space saved can be put towards extra units on the land. Stacker parking is unnecessary and not environmentally friendly since they drag a lot of electricity at a time when Melbourne is already experiencing blackouts.

  13. Desmond says:

    Approximately a 200 car stackers were approved in Hepburn Road, Doncaster but the new owner who bought the land with the permit refused to install them. The power drain would have been enormous had they been installed.
    The original notice board on the block giving details of a planning application pending did not reveal that most of the parking requirement in the development would be provided by the use of car stackers.
    It would have been a disaster had they been installed because of the limited on-street parking available for the local community in the surrounding area that would have been taken up by short term parking overspill from the the residents of the Hepburn Road development who would want to avoid the humbug of having to repeatedly store and retrieve their vehicles throughout the day.

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