Recent decisions by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) highlighted the uncertainty and discrepancies that resulted from the Minister for Planning’s decision in May 2017 to reject Council’s request for mandatory height controls for its activity centres.

In July, VCAT granted a planning permit for a 10-storey building and refused an application for a nine-storey building within the Kew Junction Structure Plan area. The two separate properties are located adjacent to one another and separated only by a single-width laneway.  The same VCAT members heard each case.

Councillor Phillip Healey, Mayor of Boroondara, said that the Minister’s decision to apply discretionary provisions instead of a mandatory cap to building height in the activity centres means less certainty for the community, Council and the development sector.

“It is disappointing that VCAT has approved a building with a height two storeys above the structure plan preferred height. It’s a suboptimal outcome for our community,” Cr Healey said.

“Boroondara’s activity centres have sensitive residential interfaces, that’s why we requested mandatory height limits in these centres. Unfortunately, despite our strategic justification, our request to the Minister has fallen on deaf ears. This is surprising, given the Minister’s own view that mandatory controls bring about certainty.

“It is evident from these two VCAT cases that the Minister’s unwillingness to apply mandatory height controls has led to a more contested and lengthy planning process.” 

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