Accommodating Melbourne's unprecedented population growth is not an easy task. It requires all three levels of government to work together, respectfully.
Unfortunately, local councils and specifically the planning system are unjustly targeted to address a housing supply and affordability problem. The most recent example is through the Reformed Residential Zones.
When the Victorian Government announced the reforms, we sent a letter to inform you about the impact of the reforms to the zone that you live in and asked you to write to the Minister for Planning to express your concerns. Thank you to those who have taken the initiative. Your voice is important in this debate.
It is disappointing to learn that in responding to the community’s concerns, the Minister has attacked Council for representing the interests of our community, accusing us of making “petty political arguments” and calling us “mischievous” and “deliberately misleading”.
Let’s look at the facts.
In the Neighbourhood Residential Zones (NRZ), the limit of two dwellings to a lot has been removed. In the General Residential Zones (GRZ), irrespective of the established character of these areas, the new height limit is 11m with a maximum of three storeys.* As we outlined in our letter to you, “… the removal of the dwelling density requirement will have a significant impact on potential development outcomes in the NRZ.
The fact that properties within the NRZ can now be developed for more than two dwellings means that the NRZ is going to experience more intensive in-fill development in areas that were previously identified for minimal change. Coupled with the increase in building height, multi-unit development and apartment style development proposals are likely to be the inevitable consequence of the reformed zone.”
Nothing in the above statement is incorrect. In his letter, the Minister doesn’t deny the above facts, but rather deflects from the reality created by the new zones. For the Minister to suggest that the changes to the zones won’t lead to more intensive in-fill development is simply untrue.
The new mandatory garden area requirement introduced by the Minister will have little positive impact on the design of development beyond what is already required under existing planning controls, and will not achieve the protection of neighbourhood character or amenity as stated by the Minister.
There was no opportunity for either Council or the community to comment on the new controls before they were introduced.
Council did provide a submission to the Minister’s Managing Residential Development Advisory Committee, which reported the outcome of the residential zones review to the Minister. However, the Minister’s reforms go much further than what his own committee recommended.
We are deeply concerned for the future of our City. Victoria needs a responsible longterm strategy for the provision of housing to retain Melbourne’s mantle as one of the world’s most liveable cities, not short-term planning reform that will line the pockets of developers and inextricably change the character of our suburbs forever.
We will not stop voicing our concerns about the reforms. We urge you to do the same. You can write to the Minister for Planning by emailing Richard Wynne.
*This change doesn’t currently apply to our current GRZ1, GRZ2 and GRZ3 areas. However, these zones will inevitably lose their existing stricter height requirements after three years.
Cr Phillip Healey Mayor