• VCAT

March 8, 2019

Further debate about Monash’s amendment C125

Further debate about this planning scheme amendment is likely after the latest version Monash City Council have decided to lodge with the planning minister. With these delays, the future subdivision rules in many areas are still in question.

Monash City Council planning department have announced proposed changes to Amendment C125 which will see more delays to its full approval. Amendment C125 of the Monash City Council Planning Scheme was brought in to implement the Monash Housing Strategy 2014, and included a range of rezoning changes, changes to rear setback limits on properties, and reductions in site coverage restrictions on any block. However, disagreement between Monash Council and the Planning Minister has caused delays with part of the amendment approved and Council advised to revisit and resubmit other aspects of the amendment. An independent planning panel was also engaged and a community consultation process conducted to review the Amendment prior to submission and the panel report outlining recommendations can be viewed here.

The amendment applies new residential zones affecting properties across the City of Monash municipality including parts of Glen Waverley, Clayton, areas near the Damper, Scotchmans and Gardiners Creeks and updates the Local Planning Policy Framework (LPPF) along with inserting a proposed new schedule to the Design and Development Overlay (DDO) and the Development Contributions Plan Overlay (DCPO) to land within the Monash National Employment and Innovation Cluster.

The new residential zones and development standards affecting subdivision rules including rear setback restrictions on any property or block, have been introduced to help protect Monash’s ‘garden city’ character and were originally proposed and submitted to the Planning Minister for approval in 2017. The Planning Minister was critical of certain aspects of the amendment and instead of arrival the whole amendment decided to split it into two parts approving Part 1 and applying recommendations for a future Part 2.

Amendment spilt in two

Part 1 of the amendment approved the proposed Residential Growth Zone (RGZ) and Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ) along with some changes to the Local Planning Policy Framework (LPPF).

The Minister did not approve the following of Part 1:

  • Insertion of the schedules to the DDO and the DCPO to block of land within the Monash National Employment and Innovation Cluster.
  • Changes to Clause 21.06 as this was recently approved via Amendment C120.
  • Changes to Clause 21.15 as the proposed terminology does not align with Plan Melbourne 2017-2050.
  • The following changes were also made to Part 1 of the amendment:
  • Update of the LPPF to align with 2016 statistics and Plan Melbourne terminology.
  • Merging of Clause 21.02 and 21.03 into Clause 21.01 to align with Ministerial Direction — The Form and Content of Planning Schemes.
  • Deletion of Schedule 2 to the RGZ as the land is proposed to be rezoned to Schedule 3 of the RGZ.
  • Removal of unnecessary objectives from the NRZ and RGZ schedules.
  • Inconsequential changes to align the drafting between the schedules and in line with ResCode.
  • Removal of ResCode variation for private open space balcony on. A property and rooftop terraces, as this requirement is within the new Better Apartments Design Standards.
  • Removal of the requirement for garages on a property to provide an additional 1-metre setback in the NRZ Schedule 1, as ResCode does not allow for such requirement.
  • The front setback for a property in RGZ Schedule 3 has been amended to apply 4 metres only, as only one distance can be specified in each schedule.
  • Removal of application requirements and decision guidelines that duplicate ResCode and other provisions of the scheme.
  • Removal of application requirements and decision guidelines that do not fall within the ambit of discretion of the residential zone schedules.

Part 2 of Amendment C125

The Minister of Planning was unsatisfied with the distribution and application of the General Residential Zone within ‘activity and neighbourhood centres, accessible areas and boulevards’ which includes places near major roads. Therefore, the proposed General Residential Zones were separated into Part 2 of the amendment to be revised and resubmitted at a later date.

The main issue stemmed from Monash’s overly conservative and restrictive zoning of places identified as ‘accessible areas’ and ‘boulevards’, and how this affected housing and subdivision of land. The zoning of these areas and neighbourhoods, as Schedule 2 of the General Residential Zone, restricts higher density development such as apartments.

Despite Monash’s ‘garden city’ character, it was felt that this decision lacked justification and seemed to be in direct conflict with Monash Council’s subdivision rules within their housing strategy which aims to identify appropriate neighbourhoods and locations for residential growth.

Minister of Planning Recommendations

As part of the Planning Minister’s recommendations announced last year; places identified as boulevards and accessible areas should be classed as General Residential Zones (not Schedule Two) or Residential Growth Zones. Any areas Monash wish to restrict to lower density housing should be zoned as Neighbourhood Residential Zones.

In his letter to Monash council the Minister of Planning said:

“I consider Part 2 requires further strategic work on the council’s application of the GRZ. The adopted GRZ features a 9-metre-high discretionary building height control. This approach is no longer possible due to changes to the Victoria Planning Provisions introduced by VC110.

Consequently, the council should review the application of the zone. In locations where the council is trying to maintain lower-scale residential development and character, the NRZ may be more appropriate. In other locations, such as in and around activity and neighbourhood centres, accessible areas and along boulevards where the council’s housing strategy is identifying the need for further growth, a GRZ or even a RGZ may be more appropriate.”

There has been major back and forth from the City of Monash (the ‘garden city’) and the Planning Minister because of this and on February 26 Monash held a meeting and decided to exclude accessible neighbourhoods, areas and boulevards from being included and assessed in Part Two of the amendment.

It has now been proposed that they will be assessed as part of their own separate amendment process. However, it seems the areas now proposed to be included as ‘accessible areas’ and ‘boulevards’ are potentially going to be reduced from what was included in the Monash Housing Strategy 2014.

While awaiting the Minister’s approval, the City of Monash Council are now applying the new zones and development standards. Monash council have advised applicants for new developments to start designing to the new zones and development standards for housing and subdivision.

In the meantime, the areas in dispute will remain zoned as Schedule Two of the General Residential Zone until they are reassessed, and an agreement is reached with the Minister. Which means further delays and that Monash’s amendments will essentially be in effect until a decision is reached.

Timeline of Amendment C125

28 February 2017 Monash Council adopts new residential zones and development standards (including changes to rear setback limits) to bring them into line with the Monash Housing Strategy 2014. The Amendments are submitted to the Planning Minister, Hon Richard Wynne for approval and a community consultation process undertaken.

25 February 2018 the Minister of Planning responds to the Council’s amendment notifying them that the Planning Scheme Amendment C125 would be split into two parts. The minister approved the first part with changes and requested a revision and resubmission of the second part due it

27 March 2018 Council resolves to request the Minister of Planning to approve Amendment C125 Part 2 as originally adopted by Council.

26 February 2019 Monash have now decided to propose that activity and neighbourhood centres, accessible areas and boulevards are not included in Part two of the amendment and assessed separately. They are also set to reduce areas classed as activity centres from what was included in the Monash Housing Strategy 2014.

It appears that the removal of the ‘accessible areas’ and ‘boulevards’ from the amendment was not the preferred outcome from the planning minister. Rather he envisaged that council would retain these and allow for a greater density and diversity of housing types through subdivision to be provided in these areas than would be allowed under Schedule 2 of the GRZ.

However, the City of Monash Council have adopted a different position and simply removed the ‘accessible areas’ from the amendment. This appears to be contrary to the ‘spirit’ of the minister’s feedback so it remains to be seen how the department will respond to council’s proposed part 2 of the amendment.