Risks of dark streets and lack of open space – VIC’s planning controversy
Plan Melbourne isn’t done, it’s just being “refreshed”, says VIC GOV

The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) Victorian Chapter has welcomed recent changes to Central Melbourne’s planning controls and believes they will improve development outcomes while the city’s planning laws are under review.

Victorian Chapter President and director of Six Degrees Architects, Peter Malatt believes the review itself will help ensure certainty and consistency of built form outcomes in the central city, and is a step to delivering a city that is able to support expected population growth of approximately 100,000 people a year.

Consistency and improved amenity for Melbourne's buildings are two of the key objectives of the Victorian Government’s Planning Amendment, highlighted in Victorian Minister for Planning Richard Wynne’s Explanatory Report, which includes an interim period of temporary planning controls on height, plot ratio and overshadowing for Melbourne’s central areas and parts of neighbouring Southbank.

While the amendment was welcomed by the AIA, it wasn’t so well received by key developing bodies, property associations and lobby groups, who believe the amendments could have a negative impact on investment in the CBD.

They were also quick to critise Wynne’s “blunt” and “uncanvassed” unveiling of the amendment which was announced practically overnight and without consultation from these key industry players.

While Malatt does concur that the amendment was introduced rather abruptly, he also says he understood why the Minister took this course of action and that he looks forward to working with the planning authorities on developing more permanent outcomes during the review period.  

“While we understand the reason behind the timing of the release and minimal industry consultation around the introduction of the controls, we are encouraged by the Government’s commitment to engaging more closely with all stakeholders as we develop this further,” says Malatt.

“As a profession we look forward to working alongside the Government, community and industry to ensure that Melbourne’s built form controls are world class and on track to delivering improved public amenity and ensuring growth enhances Melbourne's long-term liveability.” 

Malatt also agreed with Minister Wynne's proactive assertion that his interim controls on plot ratios aren't unreasonable, stating that they are generous in comparison to world standards. 

"The interim controls, while somewhat blunt in their coverage, are in fact quite generous compared to similar controls in other cities" he explains.

"New York and Hong Kong have plot ratios of 10:1 and Sydney has 11:1. The interim plot ratio for Melbourne of 24:1 provides a midway point between the standard set by other international cities, and average plot ratios of recent years in Melbourne."