Below is part of the correspondence between Council and the department. The date of this correspondence is very important – well and truly AFTER the ‘reformed’ zones were introduced. Why wasn’t this glaring and detrimental change picked up earlier? Why hasn’t council done a damn thing about it in the past year? Why was there such indecent haste and secrecy to begin with? And why are we paying large sums of money to Akehurst and his planning department when clearly they can’t get things right? Either they are not doing their jobs adequately enough or are entirely indifferent to the repercussions of their decisions. Whichever, the result remains poor planning and the continued erosion of residential amenity.


Perhaps confusing at first sight, but nonetheless of major significance. Here’s why!

Do you, or any of your neighbours happen to live in a Minimal Change Area? (ie NRZ1)

Does your or your neighbour’s land happen to be larger than its surrounding properties? (say 700+ sqm)

Does your property happen to abut a General Residential Zone? (GRZ1, GRZ2 OR GRZ3)

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions then we regret to inform you that you are in what is colloquially termed, ‘deep shit’. Why? Because this planning department and its ignorant and compliant councillors have overlooked another basic flaw in the current planning scheme. The relevant clause that gives developers the right to erect more than two dwellings in minimal change on larger size blocks just happens to read:

Consider developments of more than two dwellings provided it is clearly:

  • demonstrated that the standards for site coverage, rear setback and private open space in the Schedule to the General Residential Zone have been met.

In other words, if the land happens to be larger than its neighbours, and if you are on the border of GRZ zones (but still in minimal change), then it is the GRZ ‘standards’ that apply AND NOT THOSE DESIGNATED FOR MINIMAL CHANGE!

There has already been one VCAT decision where the applicant argued along this line. Thankfully the member rejected the application because countless other standards such as setbacks, etc. were not met by the application. However, there was plenty that this member had to say about council and its planning scheme. We quote:

Mr Clarke (for applicant) urged me to apply the GRZ standards because the policy is clear as to its terms and it is sensible to do so when the intention of policy is to allow consideration of more intense development than two dwelling.

I find neither Mr Sissons’ (for council) submissions nor Mr Clarke’s opinions compelling as to what standards should apply for the purposes of applying the policy. The policy is poorly drafted and they have understandably struggled to find a coherent path of reasoning. (

This entire episode does not only reveal the ineptitude of Council, but the continual mistruths that are allowed to go out in councillors’ names. Applying GRZ standards to minimal change areas IS NOT A ‘NEUTRAL TRANSLATION’ of what came before. Minimal change stipulates 25% permeability – GRZ 20%; site coverage in minimal change is 50% – in GRZ IT IS 60%; setbacks, and heights also differ markedly.

There are countless large blocks in minimal change that abut GRZ zones. A few examples can be quickly found along Orrong Crescent, Inkerman Road, Angdon road and Craddock Avenue, just for starters. If any of these properties were to come up for ‘redevelopment’ then the applicant has every right to argue that more than two dwellings are applicable and that the standards for GRZ zones should be applied. Not minimal change, we repeat, but the watered down ‘standards’ for the General Residential Zones.

It’s probably taken a year, but residents are finally get a true inkling of what bastardry has been perpetrated with the introduction of these disastrous ‘reformed zones’. Determined to be ‘first cab off the rank’ residents are now paying the price for planning that is not only inept, but constitutes a further erosion of all amenity and common sense. For this we must thank Newton, Akehurst and a band of councillors who simply do not have a clue, or don’t care!