Council’s continual spruiking that the zones represent a ‘neutral translation’ and that nothing can now happen that could not happen before is sheer bunkum. Countless properties are now under threat for greater building heights, and far more intense development than previously. This is particularly evident in those areas now zoned as Residential Growth. The following VCAT cases illustrate this perfectly.

CASE ONE – The Silver Arc Pty Ltd v Glen Eira CC & Ors [2013] VCAT 320 (20 March 2013)

This application was for a THREE STOREY DEVELOPMENT and 10 dwellings at 32 Mavho St, Bentleigh. It is now zoned RGZ and hence ‘suitable’ for a four storey development. There is also a current application for 24 Mavho Street for a FOUR STOREY DEVELOPMENT and 28 dwellings!

Council’s refused the earlier (32 Mavho St) application. VCAT approved the application. At the hearing, Council’s representative, Mr Crack, argued that Mavho Street has experienced a moderate amount of redevelopment in recent years and he submitted that although the emerging character is varied, ‘it is typically one of larger buildings not exceeding a two storey scale, with three storey apartments style development confined to business zoned land at the southwest corner of Mavho Street and Centre Road and a converted former church building situated at 12 Mavho Street where the third storey is largely contained within the roof space’.

Whilst Mr Bastone (for developer) agreed there were to date no three storey infill developments in Mavho Street and the parallel streets, south of Centre Road, he submitted policy strongly supports such developments. He highlighted several higher developments that have or are to occur in Centre Road and noted that the character of the area will increasingly change.

Conclusion? – Developers can now with confidence apply for 4 storey developments of far greater density and know that their chances of success with both Council and/or VCAT are practically assured!

CASE TWO – Fredman Malina Planning v Glen Eira CC [2012] VCAT 197 (22 February 2012)

This case involved an application for THREE STOREYS AND 26 DWELLINGS at 23 Bent Street, Bentleigh. It is now zoned Residential Growth – again ripe for 4 storey development. Council had refused this application – VCAT granted a permit. At the hearing council argued as followed – Council acknowledged that a site of this size could accommodate a three storey building however had concerns regarding the extent of the third level combined with its side setbacks, in that it would provide an overly dominant form particularly when viewed from the private open space of 25 Bent Street to the north which is a single storey dwelling.

So, what was ‘dominant’ 2 years ago, now morphs into acceptance of 4 storeys.

The other important factor about this development is that the size of the land was over 1000sqm. Recent multiple lot sales in Bent St are in the order of 1300sqm. According to a past item in The Age, the developer’s dream is a four storey and 60 unit development!

There are countless other such cases that we will continue to highlight over time. But the take home facts are clear:

  • Residents living in Residential Growth Zones have been materially impacted to their detriment by the new zones.
  • Residents living within cooee of Activity Centres and main roads are also in the same boat.
  • Prior to the introduction of the zones, very few applications (apart from Carnegie and in Glen Huntly and commercial centres) came close to the densities applied for now. With no real protection provided, residents in these areas are in for an almighty shock given the current rate of development.

PS: And here’s another example that gives lie to the claim that the zones represent a ‘neutral translation’. The image below is for a 2 lot combined sale. It is zoned Residential (ie. minimal change). However, due to the size of the land it will now come under the standards/guidelines NOT OF THE minimal change area, but the GENERAL RESIDENTIAL ZONE. Potentially, 3 storeys and countless units! How many other large blocks of over 1000sqm are there in so called ‘protected’ minimal change?