• VCAT

May 3, 2020

Planning panel not supportive of Monash Council’s amendment c148

The Amendment C148, proposed by City of Monashproposes to increase the public open space contribution requirement for subdivisions of 3 lots or more to 10% cash, 10% land, or a mix of both. More on Amendment C148 can be found here. Currently Council requires a public open space contribution of between 2% and 5% depending on the number of lots created. A contribution rate of 10% has been determined as necessary by the City of Monash to deliver a reasonable standard of open space provision across the whole of Monash for a growing population. The Monash Council claims this contribution rate reflects the need to ensure that all residents in the future have contributed to providing an appropriate level of public open space services and earmarks a need of 30 square metres per person, according to a report prepared by Dr Marcus Spiller.

On Monday 17th Feb 2020, an independent Planning Panel took place for the hearing of the Amendment C148. Dr Spiller, who supports the council’s amendment provided justification on why Council should adopt a rate of 30 square metres of Open Space per person which in turn, translates to requirement of 620.72 hectares of Open Space in City of Monash by 2028. Ultimately arriving at the uniform 10% contribution rate for Monash. You can download the Evidence statement prepared by Dr Marcus Spiller here. Matt Ainsaar, Managing Director and founder of Urban Enterprise, representing Salta Properties, Golf Road Project Development and Talbot Road Finance objected to the amendment, identified three main issues with the Amendment relevant to open space contributions:

  • The appropriateness of the open space calculation method applied to determine the 30 square metres per person;
  • The suitability of the provision standard of 30sqm per person; and
  • The equity of applying a single rate to all land uses and areas within the municipality.

An Interim Panel Report has recently been released by Planning Panels Victoria on 5 May 2020.

From the report, it is clear the amendment was widely opposed by the public with 36 submissions opposing the amendment out of the 44 submissions received.

In the report, the Panel takes the view that a municipal wide benchmark of 30 square metres was something of an unrealistic target in a built-up area like Monash. The opportunity to acquire additional open space is severely constrained, a view supported by the evidence presented to the Panel.

In addition, as population increases the ratio per person will, of necessity, decrease and so a per person provision has only limited value. The Panel concluded that it was a flawed metric for the calculation of an appropriate open space levy rate. In fact, the MOSS, which was prepared by Dr Spiller to support the amendment, said as much when it stated:

However, the 30m² per capita benchmark will not be considered as a blanket figure for determining open space as there are other factors that need to be considered, such as ‘proximity-based’ standards. 

The absence of an implementation plan as part of the MOSS was deemed a significant shortcoming in arriving at an appropriate open space levy rate by the Panel. Although, the Panel accepts that, with a growing population there may be a need to increase the amount of the open space levy. However, the amount of the increase in the open space levy and the increase in its scope was not justified by the information presented.

The Panel listed out matters that need to be addressed:

  • An implementation plan should be developed. More detail on each of the implementation tasks, responsibilities, cost estimates and priorities need to be included.
  • More analysis and justification are needed to apply the same open space levy rate to residential and non-residential subdivisions.
  • There is a lack of clarity and consistency in the use and meaning of community open space.
  • The identification of public open space gaps in Monash should be clarified. The Panel considers that the use of ‘Monash community open space’ as the primary measurable is too narrow and does not take into account open space in adjacent municipalities or regional open space.

In the Interim Panel Report, 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.
  • Council’s expenditure on open space is not a relevant consideration for the Panel.
  • 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 the following additional work:

  • Develop an implementation plan either as part of the Monash Open Space Strategy or as a separate document, which nominates precincts in which land acquisition will be sought and projects and works in open spaces with cost estimates.
  • Use the implementation plan as the basis for the calculation of an open space levy rate in place of the 30 square metre macro-provisioning standard.
  • Develop a detailed justification for the application of the same open space levy rate to residential and non-residential subdivisions.
  • Clarify the use and meaning of community open space in the Monash Open Space Strategy and Clause 22.15.
  • Review the areas designated as public open space gaps.

The Panel recommends once these works are complete, the Amendment should be re-exhibited to the public. The Panel will then reconvene to consider any submissions. Alternatively, Council should abandon the Amendment. At this point in time, Monash Council is currently considering the Panel recommendations to determine the next steps

The full Interim Panel Report can be downloaded here