'I am a NIMBY and proud of it,' says Mary Drost, convenor of the anti-development group Planning Backlash. Photo: Rebecca Hallas
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.