I am Mary Drost, Convener of PLANNING BACKLASH, network of 140 resident groups across city coast and country, Vice President of Boroondara Residents Action Group (BRAG), former Camberwell Councillor, member of the Camberwell Junction Structure Plan Review Committee, recipient of Outstanding Community Service Award by City of Boroondara 2009.
Points of Agreement
That Councils need certainty about height and density of development because of ruthless developers, flawed government planning policy known as M2030 and insufficient mandatory height controls. However, Councils and their communities need certainty about the heights and densities that they want not want the government impose on them.
Points of Disagreement
Forcing all residential areas into 1 of 3 unacceptable zones is wrong. Again the government is trying to make one size fit all, whereas every area is different and have great differences even within them.
Substantial Change Zone - 4 storeys is unacceptable in any residential area and Incremental Change Zone 3 storeys is unacceptable in a residential area .
Reducing setbacks and building to the boundary and reducing open space is unacceptable.
Unlimited number of dwellings per block is unacceptable.
Limited Change Zone - was originally called NO GO - why was that dropped?
3 storeys is totally unacceptable and should be no higher than 2.
Must have the ability to be single dwelling per block.
This area needs increased set backs not less.
As these are supposed to be Heritage or other Overlay areas, then a permit should be required for a single dwelling on a block, as well as use and building of residential care facilities, in fact permits should be required for anything built in this area.
ANALYSIS OF DRAFT
You may pretend that you have consulted with the Community, but you know and we know that the community were not invited to the meetings last year and by chance the Planning Backlash found out about them and informed groups everywhere. So the majority of public and group submissions you received came from them and they are the only ones to know about it this year. The groups have done their best to pass the word around with our limited resources but we have been totally let down by a government system that wants only to involve developers and professionals and ignore the people really effected by your rules. It is very insulting in what is supposed to be a democracy.
Appalling that this draft did not take into account the views of residents and community groups last year and you have produced a document with very little change.
It is as though you are listening only to developers who are motivated of course by greed, whereas the residents are concerned about the factors that make Melbourne liveable.
We residents believe that the Government desire to cram in higher density is wrong. It has not got the support of the people and that opposition to it is increasing as they see what is happening on the ground.
Your statements about what we said about last years proposals are misleading. You say councils were supportive, well the MAV under Dick Gross was supportive but many councils were and still are opposed.
You say the public were unclear about what the changes would mean – let me assure you that members of the public with whom Planning Backlash is
in contact are very clear as to what damage these Zones would do to their neighbourhoods.
It appears that this NRZ document is recognition that M2030 has failed so you want to make it compulsory to push in this height and density, no matter what.
What the Government should be doing instead is getting the infrastructure improved. The Government seems to be putting its collective head in the sand and refusing to hear that the infrastructure is stretched at every turn. No point in keeping up this mantra about building around public transport when that same public transport is overloaded. But of course not only public transport, all infrastructure is overloaded – roads, sewers, water supply, electricity, police, hospitals, schools.
We are heading for major breakdowns in the system unless the government face reality, everything has its breaking point and you end up with third world levels of liveability.
However, we realize that the government is allowing Melbourne to spread out and that is where the houses are affordable for the young to get started, and as well, they want to make the existing areas build ever higher, and wreck the comfortable suburban lifestyle of Melbourne.
We are pleased that you retain third party notice, objection and appeal rights in all zones (against developer wishes) but know that this means absolutely nothing in the light of the Government stated intention of increasing the Minister’s call in powers, of his increasing interference in VCAT and the proposed introduction of DACs. We note that Councils will have the power to exclude these rights, and we suspect you will put pressure on them to do just that.
We are pleased that you say you will allow Councils to ‘specify preferred neighbourhood character and preferred design outcomes’. However experience has shown across Melbourne that Structure Plans and Neighbourhood Character Studies get done with huge expense and endless work and then sit on some desk in the PDCD for years with no action and usually when the answer does come back they are still not allowed to be advertised because the Council is told they heights are not high enough.
This situation is simply unbelievable and is either hopeless inefficiency or deliberate so the developers can still build what they want with no rules.
THE THREE ZONES
Why does the government think that that ‘one size fits all’. You cannot just arbitrarily divide a city into three zones eg Boroondara, my own city, currently has only 2 zones 99.9% residential 1 and .1% residential 2. So by your own configuration, only that .1% can be substantial, however, it is poorly serviced for transport – one of your own criteria. Then in Boroondara most of the housing near public transport is Heritage. Because, when Melbourne was developed, they did things the right way and put the trains out first and then the houses followed, so of course the oldest houses
(hence heritage) are nearest to the trains. So you see, your concept is proven false and these areas must all be Limited Change.
Incremental Change is very difficult to fathom. I think you are not sure
either, it is something like Substantial. Just get rid of it..
It sounds as though when there is a Heritage Overlay in an area it automatically should become Limited Change, and yet you say ‘existing overlays may be removed if they include development requirements that can be included one of the new zones.’ ‘Development requirements’ occur at Activity Centres where there is public transport available(whether it is overcrowded or not). This would imply that heritage overlay areas in the old areas of Melbourne that are always near public transport will have their overlays removed and call them Substantial Change Zone. This is entirely insupportable and ruinous to the inner areas of Melbourne.
THE RULES IN EACH ZONE
The overriding factor is very clear - you are trying to stretch all boundaries.
We disagree with you on all almost all points, in fact the only point I can agree on is not allowing brothels in all areas .
This so called transition period has many traps. Experience has shown
that when plans are proposed by councils and sent to the DPCD for
approval they sit on the Ministers desk for sometimes 2 years. We have
no reason to believe that it will be any different this time when councils finally get their schedules set and sent to the department.
That Transition time will allow developers to apply the rules of the NRZs
to do with building heights and set backs and get away with it in
VCAT. This could go on for a couple of years. This it
It would be essential that when a council makes it’s schedule. that schedule becomes law until such time as the issue is settled between the council and the DPCD.
The heights you talk about are unacceptable. These are residential areas. Virtually no one wants 3 or 4 storeys next to them. It takes away your privacy and causes loss of sunlight and light.
There could be some areas where 3 storeys would be alright, providing there were large set backs on the block itself and the top story was heavily set back, to avoid shadowing and overlooking and able to be hidden by trees.
The rules you talk about are vague and unclear. We wonder if the entire paper was written to confuse and what it means is that any sort of development can go anywhere. Take your statement in Incremental Change that development will be limited to 3 storeys but the paper then says that ‘requirements of Cl55 must be met but not if the application is 4 storeys of more’ It follows that the Incremental Change Zone can have developments that are the same as those allowed in the Substantial Change zone.
But then meeting the standards of Cl 55 is a nonsense. These so called standards are discretionary and are varied at whim. Applicants consistently exceed the standards and if council refuses then VCAT invariably approves.
And then in Limited Change Zones you state a maximum height of 9m and then say that in ‘appropriate locations’ council can set a lower limit. Who
decides what is an appropriate location. If you are the ones, our experience with you tells us that you will say everywhere must have 3 or more.
These areas should be established by the Council involving the residents and not under the pressure of any government committee which is there only to do government bidding and does not have confidence of the residents.
Two storey should be maximum in almost all residential areas if Melbourne is retain its liveablilty. Studies undertaken by the Herald Sun recently showed that only 16% of people choose to live in flats, the vast majority prefer a house and garden. It is time the government started to realize this.
Instead it seems that the PDCD thinks that they can force or brainwash people into accepting high rise living.
The setbacks as set by Rescode have done enormous damage to Melbourne, allowing smaller blocks and smaller setbacks and more building to the boundaries, thus gradually destroying the tree canopy of Melbourne. This in turn increases the carbon footprint of the city and reduces the health of the people as trees are the lungs of the city. This State Government seems unable or unwilling to understand that the green canopy provides the lungs for the city. Do you want to turn the whole of Melbourne into something as unliveable as Docklands or the CBD. That is not how the vast majority of Melbourne people want to live.
These set backs are turning Victoria into not the Garden State but the Concrete State.
Set backs should be increased not decreased.
This follows on from setbacks. Decreasing set backs and reducing open space is detrimental to the health of the people. It also removes the ability of children to play in the back yard and increases children’s obesity.
In addition, our public open space is slowly being eroded and never replaced. For example, the destruction of so much of Royal Park and the total destruction of Kew Cottages park with massive development to name just 2, but there are many more areas across Melbourne where development has been allowed to swallow up open space.
There is no provision in this document to allow for protection of open space either private space in peoples back yards or public open space.
It is obvious that this document is trying to push in as much density as possible.
It is only in the Limited Zone that mention is made about the maximum number of dwellings per block and that says ‘not less than two’. In the other Zones it is not mentioned so one assumes that they can have as many as they want with no limit. Even the Limited Change leaves the door open for more.
This is unacceptable and makes for a density of living that is not the Australian way of life and will lead to social problems and unhappiness.
The whole dual occupancy rule that was brought in in the 80’s has damaged Melbourne and caused the present overcrowding in the trains and on the roads and stretched all infrastructure to breaking point. To increase that density with no limit is extremely bad for the fabric of Melbourne and for country towns.
This must not be allowed and limits should be set - for eg limited change - 1 dwelling per block in heritage areas.
Incremental - 2 dwellings per block
Substantial - 6 dwellings per 1,000 sq metre block with top 4 storeys set back in a staged way.
The exception could be that in certain designated apartment block areas this could be higher, but not in the purely residential areas, as shadowing and overlooking are unacceptable. This must be a decision of the residents and not on the say so of government.
This presents a major problem. There are too many points where a permit is not required.
Residential aged care facilities should be required to get permits in all the zones. They should be properly controlled as they always push the boundaries to the limit.
Currently a permit is required to build a single home in a heritage overlay area and this should be continued in all special overlay areas and as these are the ones expected to be in the Limited Zones, it should be spelt out that permits are required for single dwellings in the Limited Zone and not as stated in this document.
In fact all the items mentioned in Limited Change as not requiring a permit should be moved into requiring a permit, as they would be in Overlay areas.
In all areas, permits should be required for anything built on less than 500 sq meters as they are now. This standard should not be reduced.
Your section about PERMITS has been very badly thought out and leaves all sorts of loop holes.
Let us talk about Residential Aged Care Facilities and Bed and Breakfast.
Aged Care – are you talking about Federally Accredited or State requirements. Does the owner have to apply for a permit for change of use or provide the required facilities? And B and B where Human Services says one needs to register to rent rooms to 4 or more people. You talk about no permit for up to 6 people. They also say it must be registered with the council and must meet basic health and hygiene standards and be inspected. Whereas you say no permit is required.
Really, you two departments should confer to clarify the ridiculous situation.
This is only discussing a couple of points on permits I think you should have this whole section rewritten properly. It is full of potential problems.
300 SQUARE METRE BLOCKS
Under Rescode, except in a Heritage area you had to get a permit to build a single dwelling if the land was less than 500 sq mts. This should be increased, or at least retained and not reduced to under 500 in any area. Of course in a Heritage area you have to get a permit whatever area.
Bringing the size down to 300 sets the pattern to build boundary to boundary and wipe out all trees and even any green at all.
1. Many of the uses allowed, even with permit appear quite bizarre. For eg apiculture even in Substantial Zone no permit – where do you visualize this to be? The bee keeper on the balcony?
In Limited Zone - without permit a carnival, a circus, mining, mineral exploration, search for stone, with permit car wash, community market, , mineral stone or soil extraction. This whole concept of land uses should be relooked at.
The proposal does not take into account the ageing infrastructure in the older municipalities. There is no information regarding Government action re the replacement of drains and sewers let alone improving the public transport system. The system was not designed to accommodate higher density development. It cannot cope adequately with the present population so it stands no chance of coping with all the people who you intend to cram into the established suburbs. Existing problems with all of our infrastructure can only be exacerbated by NRZ. The Government and its bureaucracy are in denial when this is not acknowledged in a document which, literally, proposes to worsen the situation.
Hard to believe in this present climate that this has been ignored completely. Perhaps because you are aware that suburban houses on traditional suburb blocks are far less damaging to the environment than high density high level blocks of flats. These are great energy users. The normal house can be built almost self sustaining with enough roof space for solar as well as catching water for its own use.
"A society is defined not only by what it creates, but by what it refuses to destroy."
— John Sawhill
1. This is an extremely dangerous document for residents everywhere
There is absolutely no vision in this.
We believe that the NRZs proposal sounds the ‘death knell’ for the leafy suburbs which help Melbourne to survive. The vegetation so many of us work hard to sustain helps to absorb the pollution the city creates.
People who moonscape sites replacing trees and shrubs with endless buildings and those who encourage them to do so steal amenity from the rest of us. This proposal is much more than a development proposal. Its essence lies in what it will destroy rather than anything positive that it will promote. It is in effect a gift to the ‘urban vandals’ of which there are many, no doubt knocking on your door.
2. It gives virtually unlimited opportunity to satisfy the greed of developers. Developers are not there for the good of the residents, they are there for the amount of profit they can make. Therefore, as usual this is not planning, it is merely handing it to developers.
3. This document allows for too much density and too much height and not enough setbacks and open space, and makes it to easy to build without permits.
4. The Transition period is dangerous as there will be a long hiatus, due to government slowness, which will allow developers to beat the system.
It would only be acceptable if things were put on hold until councils had opportunity to prepare their schedules and those schedules are in force until such times as agreement is arrived at between government and council on the points of the schedule.
5. As this is still a democracy the people should be consulted properly as to what heights and density they are prepared to live with. This community consultation has not really taken place. No residents were invited to the government run meetings last year, there were only developers and planners and professionals there, except for the residents that were told about it by Planning Backlash network of groups. The government has made no effort to get this out to the community properly. We feel the government does not want to know what we think and will push it through regardless. Very undemocractic.
6. Instead of trying to make one set of rules fit all residential areas of Victoria, the government should realize that Melbourne, in fact Victoria, is like a giant tapestry, with a different pattern in each area, which makes it interesting. Each area has a different character and appearance, and the locals of the area should have the major say in what they will accept in their area.
Is the government trying to introduce centralized planning, al la Russia. Having lived in Russia with a Russian family I know this is destructive to the psyche of the people and has resulted in mile after mile of soulless ugly identical concrete blocks of apartments all crumbling away. Let us not see that here in what used to be Marvellous Melbourne.
1. That the during the Transition period, development be put on hold until councils have time to prepare their schedules. These schedules become law until such times as they have come to agreement with the government.
2. That all heights be reduced and setbacks and open space be increased and building to the boundaries reduced, preferably no building to boundaries.
3. That in Limited Zones everything to be built must require a permit.
4. That everything that requires a permit must be advertised and the community have the opportunity to object and appeal to VCAT.
5. That in all Zone permits must be required for Residential Aged Care facility, Bed and Breakfast, Place of Worship, Railway, Telecommunications facility, Home Occupation, Dependent Persons Unit
6. That in all Zones permits must be obtained if the land area is smaller than 500 sq mts.
7. That all front fences must have a permit.
8, But over and above all it is time to regionalize . Melbourne should not be the ‘primary accommodation’ target. Your regional Task Force should be looking at all the other areas that should be built up, where there is water, eg Western District.
We need incentive driven decentralization. We need to take a lesson from Ireland. Similar size, similar population, large migrant intake rapidly, and instead of wrecking Dublin they directed the intake to 9 Gateway cities. It has worked and the population is more evenly distributed and historical Dublin was not swamped with people and development and so it has been saved for future generations to enjoy their heritage.
Think about it.
34 Prospect Hill Road
Camberwell Vic 3124
S U B M I S S I O N
NEW RESIDENTIAL ZONES
PLANNING BACKLASH INC