The CBD Game Has Changed: Permanent and Tighter Planning Controls To Be Introduced by September 2016
By Nafsika Palbas
1 September 2016
On 4 September 2015, Victorian Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, announced interim built form controls for Melbourne’s central business district (CBD) known as Melbourne Planning Scheme Amendment C262. Amendment C262 was introduced for a twelve (12) month period subject to the introduction of permanent controls as part of a public planning scheme amendment consultation process commencing in April 2016. Click here to read about Amendment C262 as discussed by Phillip Leaman, TLFC Law Principal.
On 26 April 2016, Mr Wynne released Melbourne Planning Scheme Amendment C270, which will replace Amendment C262. Click here to read the documentation released by the Victorian Government on Amendment C270.
The Victorian Government’s Explanatory Memorandum for Amendment C270 notes:
“…In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the quantity, density and scale of development proposed, and approved, within the Central City. Cumulatively, this increase in density has created poor amenity outcomes that have the potential to damage the investment attraction to the Central City and the renowned liveability of Melbourne, generally.
The current planning scheme provisions are not responding to the emerging development challenges. As a result development is starting to have adverse impacts on the amenity of residents, workers and visitors to the Central City…”
The Victorian Government also notes that there has not been a significant central city built form update since 1999 and Amendment C270 is necessary to “bring Melbourne up to speed with the planning rules used by cities across the world, such as New York, Singapore, Vancouver and Sydney.”
What does Amendment C270 change?
By way of summary, some of the changes Amendment C270 proposes to introduce are as follows:
The distinction between two (2) types of development areas within the Hoddle Grid and Southbank areas (click here for map ) – (1) Special Character Areas; and (2) General Development Areas.
In Special Character Areas (including the Victorian Parliament, Town Hall, Flinders Street and the Arts Centre) the emphasis is to protect relatively lower built form scale. Amendment C270 provides where a mandatory height control was in place prior to the introduction of Amendment C262, the mandatory height controls are proposed to remain. Where a discretionary height control was in place prior to the introduction of Amendment C262, the discretionary height controls are proposed to remain, but with the introduction of a new Floor Area Ratio (see below) to guide the discretion that can be exercised in relation to overall height.
In General Development Areas (comprising a large portion of Melbourne’s CBD and Southbank) the emphasis is on growth and more intensive development and is primarily where towers can be located. In these areas, Amendment C270 proposes to introduce:
A Floor Area Ratio (FAR) (otherwise known as a site plot ratio) of 18:1. This is the ratio of development floor space to site area. Currently under Amendment C262 the FAR had been reduced to 24:1. Under the proposed Amendment C270, if a FAR will exceed 18:1 the Minister may agree to increase FAR provided that all other relevant built form provisions are met and a public benefit of equal or greater value to the increased FAR must be provided. Some examples of public benefits are social housing within a proposed building or publicly accessible laneways, parks and public spaces.
- A preferred street wall height of twenty (20) metres;
- A minimum five (5) metre upper level street setback for towers (above the street wall);
Minimum side and rear setbacks of five (5) meters for buildings up to eighty (80) metres in height;
- Side and rear setbacks for buildings eighty (80) metres or higher at six per cent (6%) of tower height;
- A separation distance for multiple towers within a large site of six per cent (6%) of the combined tower height of the adjacent towers;
- New key public spaces to be protected from overshadowing and extended the dates and times of protection; and
- Wind control criteria to achieve adequate levels of personal comfort eighty per cent (80%) of the time, rather than just protecting against extreme wind gust conditions.
What’s next for Amendment C270?
Amendment C270 is on exhibition and open for public submissions until Monday 30 May 2016. Already, various developers and industry organisations have expressed their concerns that Amendment C262 has, and Amendment C270 will further, negatively impact development and investment in the CBD.
An independent planning panel hearing is expected to be held in the week commencing Monday 11 July 2016. It will consider the public submissions and report to the Minister for Planning. The Minister will then consider and likely implement the proposed amendments to the Melbourne Planning Scheme. The amendment is expected to come into effect in September 2016.
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