Planning Minister Matthew Guy. Photo: Penny Stephens
Residents in a south-east Melbourne council should brace for a "slew of applications" from developers, one of its senior managers has said, after Planning Minister Matthew Guy did not sign off on new zoning laws for the area.
Mr Guy approved changes to planning rules for eight Melbourne councils last week, including those in the city's leafy inner-east and its bayside suburbs where high-rise and high density development were made more difficult.
But zoning laws at 24 remaining Victorian councils will now undergo a ''neutral conversion'' of their planning zones on July 1. Among them is Kingston council, which covers suburbs including Moorabbin, Clayton and Mentone.
Councillors at Kingston have been told by the general manager in charge of planning that this neutral conversion by Mr Guy will leave the council's planning team likely to face "a slew of [development] applications''.
This was because, the general manager told councillors, there was a significant amount of land in the Kingston council area that would see greater development allowed under the new zoning laws.
Kingston councillor Rosemary West said the changes would "lay all of Kingston's residential areas open to more development than is currently possible".
Cr West said the council had followed a process that Mr Guy had asked councils to follow to get their planning laws changed.
"The Minister has been promising this process would create certainty, to protect the suburbs,'' she said. Instead, we have got great uncertainty. We have done exactly what was asked and yet we've been thrown to the development wolves."
Cr West said the planning changes were designed to "benefit the leafy suburbs, while other suburbs will have to bear more development".
Asked why Kingston's application for new zones had not been approved while neighbouring councils had been,
Mr Guy said that Cr West needed to do "her homework on this matter before making comment", and that the council had voluntarily been part of an independent advisory process set up by the government on its new zones.
He said the new General Residential Zone that existing zones would be converted to carried across "all the existing controls and protections that exist in the current Residential One Zone".
Kingston mayor Paul Peulich also said he had received advice on Tuesday that the changes to planning rules in the area would leave existing protections in place.
Colleen Peterson, a director at planning consultants Ratio and one of the most outspoken critics of the changes being made to Melbourne's residential zoning laws, said the changes were likely to make little difference to Kingston, which was overstating the potential impacts.
But Kingston bordered both Glen Eira and Bayside councils, and is near Boroondara and Stonnington councils – all of which have had new planning zones approved.
"So I can understand Kingston feels ripped off – and that's part of the problems with the lack of transparency through this whole processs," Ms Peterson said. "Glen Eira got what they asked for, and Kingston hasn't, and no one knows why.''