• VCAT

May 4, 2020

Darebin Council also seeking 10% public open space contributions

A Planning Scheme Amendment (C186dare) with the aim to increase Open Space Levy, similar to Monash City Council’s C148 Amendment, been proposed by the Darebin Council. The council is proposing to increase the open space levy to ensure Darebin improve the existing open spaces and increase open space within Darebin.

It is understood that Darebin Council engaged the same planning and economic consultancy firm as City of Monash, SGS Economics & Planning, to analyse Darebin’s open space contribution requirements. According to the report, The Open Space Contributions Review Report (SGS Economics and Planning, 2019), with no increase in contribution rates from developers, there will be a per-capita reduction in the amount and quality of open space available to the Darebin community.

The Darebin Planning Scheme currently collects an open space contribution rate as follows:

Type or location of subdivisionAmount of contribution for public open space
The subdivision of land that creates: 
1 additional lotNone specified
2 additional lots2%
3 additional lots3%
4 additional lots4%
5 or more additional lots5%

The report finds that there is need for an 18.2% open space contributions rate across land uses in Darebin to reach optimum quality of open space (30 square metres per capita). However, the report recommends an increase in the levy to a 10% open space contributions rate in Darebin across all land uses, to help ensure that the future community will have access to a reasonable standard of public open space provision. A 10% open space contributions rate equates to approximately 16 square metres (or equivalent) of open space provision per capita. Similar calculation and reasonings as the report prepared for City of Monash which Monash’s C148 Amendment was based on.

The proposed new open space levy required is calculated based on the following factors:

  • Open space need per person
  • Projected population grown
  • Net developable land

The amendment proposed by Darebin Council is pursuing a flat rate levy that applies to all subdivisions of two or more additional lots, as every development, regardless of its location or size, has the same proportional responsibility to contribute towards the open space needs of the future population. The increase in the Open Space Levy rate to 10 per cent will apply to all subdivisions for residential, industrial or commercial purposes within the municipality (exemptions continue to apply).

The full Planning Scheme Amendment documents released by Darebin Council can be found here.

The Independent Panel Hearing for Monash City Council’s C148 Amendment took place in February 2020 and the Interim Panel Report was released recently. Monash’s amendment was widely opposed by the public with 36 submissions opposing the amendment out of the 44 submissions received. The Panel took the view that a municipal wide benchmark of 30 square metres was something of an unrealistic target in a built-up area like Monash. In the case of City of Darebin, it is expected same view will apply as it is also a built-up area.

In the Interim Panel Report for Monash’s C148 Amendment, the Panel concluded:

  • There is a lack of an implementation plan which nominates areas in which land acquisition will be sought, in addition to open space projects and works with cost estimates.
  • The exclusion of regional open space and open space outside the municipality overstates the areas within the municipality that are not within 400 metres of open space.
  • Whether a change in the rate is justified depends on the basis for calculating the new rate.
  • The treatment of the whole municipality as a single planning unit is appropriate.
  • An inclusionary requirements approach is reasonable.
  • Applying the same rate to employment land is not justified.
  • Council’s standard of 30 metres square per person does not adequately support the calculation of a 10 per cent contribution rate.
  • An implementation plan which nominates precincts in which land acquisition will be sought and projects and works in open spaces with cost estimates is a more appropriate basis for the calculation of a contribution rate

Based on the reasons set out in the Interim Report, the Panel recommends that Monash Planning Scheme Amendment C148 not proceed at this time and recommends the Monash Council to review the Amendment documents and undertake additional work before re-exhibited to the public. The Panel will then reconvene to consider any submissions. Alternatively, Council should abandon the Amendment proposed by Monash. More on Monash C148 Amendment: here

Darebin Council’s proposed Planning Scheme Amendment C186dare was on exhibition from 14 November 2019 to 16 December 2019 with Panel Hearings originally planned to take place in early 2020 but due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated social distancing laws, Planning Panels Victoria (PPV) have been unable to hold face to face planning panel hearings. A directions hearing was held via teleconference on 16 April 2020 to consider the way that the planning panel should be heard with a further directions hearing has been scheduled for 29 May 2020. More updates by the council will be posted here.