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High-rise bans in Melbourne's richest suburbs


Clay Lucas

Swaths of Melbourne's richest suburbs have been locked up and high-rise development largely banned, after Planning Minister Matthew Guy approved new residential zones across the city's most expensive areas on Monday.

Kew, Hawthorn, Camberwell, Brighton, Sandringham and Black Rock were among the suburbs to get two-storey height limits, in what resident groups hailed as a major victory.
But planning experts warned the changes meant NIMBYs – Not In My Back Yard campaigners – had won the battle to stop large-scale development in areas of Melbourne with the best transport and infrastructure.
‘‘Everybody is a NIMBY, and everybody wants to protect what they've got. I am a NIMBY and proud of it – and I don't want a great big high-rise next to me,'' said Mary Drost, convener of the anti-development group Planning Backlash.
Ms Drost said her group, an umbrella organisation for hundreds of smaller resident organisations, was "delighted we are finally going to get the protection we have for years been screaming for".
Ms Drost lavished praise on Mr Guy, saying the changes he had put through were long overdue. "Developers have had it too easy," she said.
Mr Guy on Monday said he had approved the controversial new zones for six councils in Melbourne including Boroondara, Bayside and Stonnington.
The new zones will see large parts of these three councils protected from development higher than two levels.
In Boroondara, which covers suburbs including Kew, Hawthorn and Camberwell, 76 per cent of the council area will now see any building proposal higher than two levels blocked.
In Bayside, which covers suburbs including Brighton, Hampton, Sandringham and Black Rock, an even higher 83 per cent of the council area is protected from high-rise.
In Stonnington, which covers Prahran, South Yarra, Toorak and Armadale, a more modest 38 per cent of the council area will now be protected from high-rise development.
Casey, Manningham, Maroondah, Queenscliffe and Wangaratta councils also had new zones approved.
Mr Guy on Monday said the new zones struck "the right balance by encouraging new housing in locations that have access to public transport and a wide mix of services".
And he said areas of neighbourhood character "that are valued by Melbourne's residents will be protected".
He described the zoning system the new laws replaced as "a lottery that caused confusion and wasted valuable resources".
"With the new residential zones home buyers will more clearly understand how their neighbourhood is likely to evolve over time and developers will direct activity to locations where it is supported," he said.
But planners said the changes meant the city's richest suburbs had been protected at the expense of those without the advantages of good transport and infrastructure.
Roz Hansen chaired Mr Guy's advisory committee on the government's Plan Melbourne strategy. She resigned last year in disgust over how the plan was being put together.
Professor Hansen said the minister had "protected the established middle suburbs" at the expense of offering choice and affordability within them.
"There is a focus on certainty in this decision, but not on the consequences of these decisions," she said.
"Certainty is one thing, but if you don't have housing choice and you don't have affordability, you haven't solved the housing problem," she said. "This is not going to deliver either."
The zoning changes on Monday followed 39 other Victorian councils on Friday getting what were largely less controversial alterations made to their zoning regimes. Twenty-four remaining councils will undergo a neutral conversion on July 1.
The Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure refused to provide any detail on what Mr Guy had outlined in general terms in a press release on Monday.
The department has all of the information prepared, but its spokeswoman Emma Gumbleton said it would only be released publicly when the laws announced by Mr Guy were gazetted. This is expected within a fortnight.

3 comments so far

  • The two biggest planning issues in Melbourne are urban sprawl and housing affordability. This new zoning does nothing to address either of these, in fact it will only make it worse.
    There will be no opportunity for affordable housing in these areas, effectively creating exclusive suburbs for the wealthy, whilst much needed housing will have to be built in other, less privileged suburbs, or further out onto the urban fringes. In terms of planning outcomes, the minister has shown that protection of the governments voting base takes priority over the future of the city.

    Date and time
    June 17, 2014, 10:15AM
    • Surely all of Melbourne is "residential" where people live? This protective layer for certain older suburbs is a recognition that what proceeds under Plan Melbourne will be inferior, and have lower standards of living - in towers and multi-units. Why is Hon, MP Kelvin Thomson the only one speaking on our third world rate of population growth, and joining the dots to our unaffordable housing and the declining standard of housing? If we are restricted in growing outwards and the cost of urban sprawl, and being forced to accept high rise living whether we want it or not, it's time to have a debate about population growth.

      Save our suburbs
      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 10:40AM
  • Most people understand by now that the real issue driving sprawl and lack of affordable housing is record high levels of population growth (PG), underpinned by record high net migration - deliberate federal policy, of both major parties, but also welcomed by state government here in Vic, again, by both major parties. Unfortunately Greens policy is ambigious about it.

    So to focus specfically on the Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ). Good news for the leafy Eastern suburbs.

    Unfortunately here in City of Melbourne (CoM) we have bad news. The initial proposal for CoM was for 0% NRZ Yep, none! That was modified late in the piece, thanks to some Councillors, one of the Greens in particular, but still only a small fraction, maybe 20% of the current Residential 1 Zone (R1Z), Heritage Overlay (HO) areas: think East Melbourne, Carlton, South Yarra, North Melbourne, Parkville, Kensington.

    Not enough space to go into details why, but combination of a voting system where residents only get 40% of the vote, developer backed councillors, and non-resident councillors.

    And just to be clear, the CoM has plenty of large growth areas - called Urban Renewal Areas, and other Mixed Use areas, in addition to the CBD, all of which are catering for what we are told is the highest PG in the country. But no, that's not enough, even the historic residential area have to be open for development, i.e. GRZ.

    Then we find out on Friday that the Planning Minister has already, pre-emptively rezoned the whole of the CoM residential zones to General Residential Zone (GRZ). A decision he made a month ago, apparently with no-one at City of Melbourne in the know.

    north melbourne
    Date and time
    June 17, 2014, 2:19PM

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