Aiden Mullen has admitted that the residential  ‘demarcation’ zones  introduced in 2013 made ‘no sense’. The critical question now is whether council’s proposals do in fact make more ‘sense’ and whether they are justified in strategic terms as well as improving residential amenity in our local streets. From what has been published thus far, the answer is an emphatic and unequivocal ‘no’.

Council has produced some ‘Quality Design Principles’ that are literally nothing more than pretty picture pipe dreams and totally unattainable given current State legislation, council’s own planning scheme and the schedules to the zones. In this post we will focus on Council’s version of ‘garden apartment’ which is really the current Residential Growth Zones allowing 4 storey development. The definition of this component, as supplied by council, reads –

The Garden apartment (three to four storeys) building type seeks to ensure that apartments located within these residential streets look and feel residential with a strongly vegetated garden setting, and a recognizably residential building form.

A nice bit of mumbo jumbo with no specifics, no detail, and not a hope in hell of achieving any of these aspirational objectives. In addition we also get this bit of humbug –

Several things are clear from these ‘principles’ and the examples:

  • There will probably be no 3 or 4 bedroom apartments in these buildings given the groups selected in the ‘housing opportunities’ section. Most will be 1 or 2 bedrooms – which does not match council’s own current planning scheme!
  • Does council really believe that any developer would constrain himself to build 3 storeys instead of the allowable 4 storeys? The past 4 years provide ample evidence of what a joke this is. Or will we eventually see some further zoning that differentiates between 3 storeys (GRZ) and the 4 storeys (RGZ)?
  • How can a ‘front and back corridor’ be maintained when nothing in the legislation mandates this beyond the current inadequate ResCode ‘standards’ that are not worth the paper they are written on and which both council and VCAT disregard repeatedly?
  • 4 storey ‘garden apartments’ are supposed to be along ‘residential areas along arterial roads’. Why then do we have a large section of Rosstown Road in Carnegie changing from 2 storeys to 4 storeys WHEN IT IS NOT AN ARTERIAL ROAD? Why do we have sites along Centre Road, Bentleigh changing from 2 storey to 3 storey, when Centre Road IS NOT AN ARTERIAL ROAD? Why do we have Truganini, also falling into this category? How much more misleading information will council put out for ‘consultation’?

The real sticking point however is the legislation and Wynne’s recent introduction of Amendments VC110 & VC136. The important points to note from these two pieces of legislation are:

  • There is no mimimum ‘garden requirement’ for the Residential Growth Zones (RGZ)
  • According to Clause 55.07, the only mention of ‘communal open space’ is when the number of dwellings exceeds 40 or more. Anything under this number would therefore be exempt according to the legislation!
  • Council’s current schedule to the RGZ zones has the mimimalist standards of 60% coverage, and 20% permeability. There is nothing in these schedules, or in the entire planning scheme, that will MANDATE anything like a ‘garden setting’. Thus is council deliberately conflating ‘private open space’ with ‘garden’ requirement in order to mislead?


Council has not provided any information as to how it will:

  • Change any of the schedules and what these changes might be. We are confident that what will happen is that these crucial ‘details’ will be held back until the very last moment when council will vote to write off to the Minister under Section 20(4) of the Planning & Environment Act and thus deny residents all objection rights, much less their final say on what will be in the final amendment.
  • Most alarming is that not council, nor any single councillor has made mention of the Minister’s latest amendments when they are so crucial to determining sound strategic planning.