First off, a mea culpa: we have removed a previous post (first time ever!) because we were in error regarding the Booran Road Reservoir as potential public open space. Unlike council, we do freely admit when we have erred!

This post concerns the Ministerial and developer initiated Amendment that there be permitted divergence from what the Caulfield Village Incorporated Plan originally stated. Council has to now provide an ‘opinion’ on the proposal.

Our first reaction is:

  • Here we go again! No ‘development plan’ has as yet been made public, but council are quite prepared to make decisions BEFORE any detail, or real plans are released.
  • The requested changes will be on crucial issues such as height and setbacks plus ‘intrusions’ into public open space. Instead of a straight out rejection on height, all council is recommending is ”the need for a town planning permit if a development plan exceeds a height in the Incorporated Plan”. We all know what happens to applications put in by the MRC/developer!
  • Council is again up to its old tricks of citing ResCode, when they know that ResCode does not apply – especially for buildings that will be 20 storeys plus!

Below are the relevant sections – ie the changes and officer responses.

1. An ability to allow Council to allow limited intrusions into the building height such as architectural features, plant and equipment such as a lift over run. The requested intrusions are limited to no more than 2m in general but no more than 1.5m within 3m of the edge of a building.

Officer comment

Council’s new residential zones recognised that it is reasonable to allow some intrusion of plant and equipment into building heights. This request is consistent with usual town planning practice and is therefore considered reasonable. Plant and equipment typically includes air conditioning units, vents, ducts and a lift over run.

2. An ability to allow minor building works such as verandahs, balconies, eaves, down pipes, street furniture and art works to intrude into stipulated setbacks.

Officer comment

When front setbacks are stipulated in town planning, measurements are taken from the street alignment to the wall of a building. It is common for minor building intrusions to be disregarded in setback distances prescribed. In fact, Rescode specifically states that verandahs, porches, pergolas and eaves are allowable encroachments.

The extent of any intrusion into a setback is not prescribed but needs to be assessed as ancillary or minor. For example, a porch at an entrance to a building provides a sense of entrance, identity and shelter and is acceptable provided it fulfills these functions and does not detract from the purpose of the setback which is usually for landscaping purposes.The area available for development is not increased by virtue of this request.

If Council is not happy with the extent of any intrusions, it would either condition a development plan to alter or remove the intrusions or refuse the development plan. There are appeal rights to VCAT between the developer and Council over any development plan dispute.

3. Clarification that Council can approve a Development Plan with building heights exceeding heights stipulated in the Incorporated Plan. However, as described above this would trigger the need for a normal town planning process with full appeal rights for all parties including objectors. This request does not alter the current situation but removes any ambiguity.

Officer comment

This change does not have any effect on the existing planning controls. Subject to emphasising the need for a town planning permit with full appeal rights there is no objection to this change.