The Age has run a series of articles on the new residential zones and how decisions appear to be based not on sound strategic planning, but political back room wheeling and dealing. The upshot is that Labor held municipalities, have received the raw end of the deal, whilst those Liberal strongholds of Glen Eira, Bayside and Boroondara allegedly got away with blue murder. Or so it is claimed by Labor.

The Minister’s Standing Advisory Committee produced ‘reports’ which either endorsed the various councils attempts to introduce their zone amendments, or canned them and recommended non-acceptance. Moreland, Darebin, and Kingston in particular, received the thumbs down. Reading these reports our conclusions are:

  • That many of the committee’s criticisms of these councils apply equally to Glen Eira
  • That the amendments of these councils were in many respects far superior to anything produced by Glen Eira
  • That politics and manipulation had a very strong role in what happened.

We’ve gone through some of these reports and include the relevant extracts below. We ask readers as they peruse these offerings to keep the following facts in mind:

  • Glen Eira’s so called Housing Strategy dates back to the dark ages
  • Glen Eira’s amendment was passed prior to the release of the Victoria in Future 2014 population figures – so ‘significant’ in the committee’s denunciation of some councils.
  • Plan Melbourne also does not feature in the Glen Eira approach
  • Glen Eira has admitted that in the past the housing diversity/minimal change dichotomy only resulted in 56% of dwellings going into housing diversity
  • And even with all these ‘presents’ Glen Eira still couldn’t get it right!



The Committee appreciates that Council has had to promptly respond to the changing policy framework and consider how Plan Melbourne should guide the application of the new residential zones in Moreland. The updated Victoria in Future population and dwelling forecasts for local government areas to 2031, released in early June 2014, indicates that Moreland will have significantly more demand for housing than was previously anticipated. It is against this background that the Committee has undertaken its review of the draft Amendment.

In relation to Council’s submission that the RGZ has been used to provide a transition between the core commercial areas, the zone has only been applied to three percent of the R1Z land and there are many instances where this is not the case, and the Mixed Use/Commercial Zones will directly abut NRZ. The Committee is not satisfied this has been consistently applied. Whilst it may be argued the built form outcomes are adequately dealt with in the Structure Plans, it needs to be recognised these primarily relate to Commercial/Mixed Use/Activity Centre Zones which may attract quite different types of development.



Council submitted that its starting point for the draft Amendment was that the strategic objectives of increased housing diversity and incremental housing change, as already established in its planning scheme have worked successfully over the past 14 years and that with refined parameters proposed they will continue to do so in the future.

Firstly, the Committee agrees with Council that its existing strategy appears to have worked generally well for the time in which it was established and has been implemented. This is evidenced in the general harmony and balance that Council submitted had been achieved through limited applications needing to be referred to a full Council meeting and a relatively low appearance rate at VCAT. The Committee also considers Council has undertaken an excellent job of monitoring where housing has occurred and seeking to understand where housing change is occurring.

Council’s submission however, acknowledged that the change in housing form over the past 14 years varied between suburbs, and was not directly linked to existing zone application. The Committee’s review of mapped developments provided by Council against the existing R1Z and R3Z zoning confirms this. The areas that have experienced greater change in housing form appear to be more closely correlated with the proximity to public transport and services, rather than with the zone boundaries. This raises a question to the Committee that there may be a need to review whether the boundaries identified in 2000 for incremental change and housing diversity, that then led to the R1Z and R3Z zones, require review. The Committee understands the boundaries of the policy and subsequent zone application have not been comprehensively reviewed since 2000.

The Committee’s review of the 2000 Strategy is that the policies set out in the 2014 KRSU are not simply an update of the 2000 strategy, but a new strategy in format, content and direction. This is not itself a criticism of the KRSU, but the Committee considers it is a misnomer to refer to the new strategy as an update, when there has been 14 years of housing and policy change occurring in between. This is particularly concerning when the general mapping between what was R1Z and R3Z has not been comprehensively reviewed.

As Council put to the Committee on many occasions in its submission, planning is the sum of many parts. The Committee agrees. Therefore, whilst the Committee accepts the detailed and extensive work Council has undertaken in monitoring supply and modelling this into projected demand, this is only one part of the planning process. To demonstrate that a strategy is sound and robust the Committee considers it needs to do more than demonstrate it can accommodate projected population forecasts. It also needs to demonstrate that a choice of housing can be provided that offers affordable options and in accessible locations. This is consistent with Plan Melbourne as put by various government agencies at the hearing.

The Committee considers that the update or review of the 2000 residential strategy needs to more extensively consider the broader policy changes that have occurred in the past 14 years.

Council has not reviewed most its neighbourhood character strategy since 2000 and has not comprehensively reviewed the boundaries of where R1Z and R3Z as part of a housing strategy that addresses choice, affordability and character issues

There does not appear to have been a comprehensive review of these boundaries since 2000 and the Committee was not referred to any comprehensive update to the Neighbourhood Character guidelines since this time that identify areas where application of the NRZ over the GRZ is substantiated. It may be that there are areas within the existing R3Z that warrant use of the NRZ, but the Committee considers simply applying the NRZ to all R3Z areas in the manner proposed is not strategically justified.

Council submitted that its approach to the new zones was more resolved and better justified than other neighbouring municipalities, notably Glen Eira and Bayside. The Committee is aware that the Amendment to implement the zones at Glen Eira was undertaken by the Minister for Planning in accordance with 20(4) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987. It also understands that an Amendment has been prepared to introduce the zones into Bayside City Council, but this Amendment has not yet been approved.




The Committee concludes:

 The housing needs of Darebin are 630‐680 new dwellings each year to 2031.

 The proposed residential zones in conjunction with non‐residential zone housing growth will broadly have the capacity to accommodate this housing need. However this, in itself, does not result in justification for a broad‐scale use of the NRZ.

The wider use of the NRZ results in it being applied to 36 percent of all residential areas whereas under the HCFP it would have been around 23 percent. The Committee sees this as a significant variation and the basis of this variation should be reviewed against the principles and criteria of PN78 with reference back to the zone purpose.



This in itself indicates an urgent need to review the Housing Strategy to ensure it can appropriately respond to the opportunities of the new residential zones and provide a strategic basis for their implementation. It would also provide an opportunity to refine the housing and population data to ensure that the most relevant, up‐to‐date picture of likely future growth is at the core of a new assessment of housing needs.


The Committee concludes that a sufficient number of dwellings may be provided to meet the projected needs of the future population under the proposed allocation of zones. However this does not address whether the types of housing resulting from this growth will meet the market needs for the various housing types.


Source: – The various committee reports may be accessed at: