The Minister for Planning’s decision to reform residential zones is unravelling the protection of Boroondara’s neighbourhood character.

About 80 per cent of our residential area is classified as Neighbourhood Residential Zone where the maximum number of dwellings on a lot is two and the maximum building height limit is 8 metres.

Yesterday, the Minister removed the limit of two dwellings to a lot and increased the mandatory building height limit to 9 metres. The changes were made without consultation with local residents, communities and Council. See full details at reformed residential zones.

The Minister argued that the reformed residential zones “will be fair and provide certainty for all of our suburbs”, “provide for new housing opportunities” and “get the balance right”. We strongly disagree with his argument.

There is no transparency, accountability and justification to the proposed changes. The extensive process of planning work required to introduce the current residential zones by Boroondara and other municipalities has effectively been thrown out at the stroke of a pen. It is heavy handed and unfair.

Council’s planning policies have created capacity for an additional 62,546 dwellings which is more than four times the Victorian Government’s own forecast dwelling need for the area by 2031. These policies have clearly been working as Boroondara has the second highest spend on building projects in Victoria.

What will be certain is that the reformed residential zones will result in more intensive in-fill development in areas that our community has told us they want to preserve. The changes will have long lasting negative impacts on our highly valued streetscapes.

The Minister hasn’t got the balance right. He has tipped the balance in favour of increased density that will only benefit developers and destroy both Boroondara’s and Melbourne’s liveability.

We are deeply disappointed by the Minister’s decision. We urge community members to write to the Minister for Planning email Richard Wynne to voice their concerns.

Cr Phillip Healey Mayor