Recent changes to the Victorian Planning System
Metropolitan Planning Strategy
The State Government has projected that Melbourne’s population will increase from 4.5 million to 8 million by 2051. “Plan Melbourne”, the metropolitan planning strategy, introduced amendments to the planning scheme, to ensure that housing supply keeps pace with the growth in population.
New Residential Zones
In 2014 the Planning Minister’s “Managing Residential Development Advisory Committee” recommended new residential zones for Victoria. These were named Residential Growth Zone, General Residential Zone and Neighbourhood Residential Zone.
The Flinders Community Association made a submission to hearings of this committee seeking Neighbourhood Residential Zoning for Flinders. We attempted to get clear mandatory controls over things like building heights, site coverage, setbacks and number of storeys. The submission noted that Flinders, along with the other small Western Port villages, would make no significant contribution to accommodating metropolitan growth. However these villages were at risk of losing their valued character and amenity as tourist destinations and as places providing recreation opportunities for Melbourne residents as well as servicing the population of the Green Wedge countryside.
Unfortunately, the then Planning Minister, Mathew Guy, determined that Residential General Zoning should apply broadly, including over Flinders village. Early this year the Government rolled out Amendment VC110 which changed requirements in all residential zones. Importantly the mandatory height limit in the General Residential Zone was increased to 11 metres and 3 storeys in height. The minimum garden space requirement as 25% per allotment represented a considerable increase in building bulk and site cover. The suburban sprawl eastwards from Mornington is a realistic example. Fortunately in Flinders, the General Residential zone covering most of the village, retains some protection from Design and Development Overlays 2 & 3. For the time being these DDOs maintain the former 8 metres and 2 storeys limits with a 40% garden space requirement. Council has been given limited time to prepare an amendment to transfer these DDOs into a new schedule to the General Residential Zone relating to Flinders. However the amendment once prepared needs the approval of the Planning Minister.
The State Government has introduced a fast planning permits system for what are termed “minor forms of development” for the Mornington Peninsula Shire. This process will make permits faster and easier to obtain. It removes opportunities for neighbours and third parties to be given notice of an application or make a submission or objection through VCAT. Applications are decided by the Council CEO and officers and are to be processed within 10 days (for a significant fee). Councillors are not involved in any way.
The new VicSmart application categories include subdivision of land/realignment of boundaries between two lots in a number of zones and overlays. In many cases application can be made to demolish outbuildings, construct fences, carports, garages, verandahs, decks or sheds or works for a swimming pool or to reduce the required number of car spaces. And this can be done right up against your boundary. Fast approval can be given for lopping trees and installation of solar panels. In the Green Wedge Zone a VicSmart application can be made to construct a building or works up to $250,000 in value. In the case of the Green Wedge Zone, badly sited sheds or buildings may have an adverse impact on valued significant landscapes. Not an insignificant or “minor form of development” in the opinion of the FCA.