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    City of Melbourne gives conditional support to new planning controls

    Nathan Johnson

    The City of Melbourne (CoM) has expressed its broad support for the Victorian Government’s proposed Planning Scheme Amendment (C270), but has requested a detailed impact assessment of the amendment be submitted along with more clarity surrounding the role of the Council in the decision making process. 

    In a submission to the Central City Built Form Review, the CoM expressed its general support for the C270 amendment, suggesting its built form controls, which will limit the extent of development possible on each city site to 18:1, will deliver improved built form outcomes and enhance the urban environment of the Central City.

    However, they were hesitant to offer all out support before a detailed economic, social and environmental impact analysis of the amendment is disclosed. They are also requesting more clarity surrounding the decision making processes regarding the uplift provision in the amendment, which would grant developers an increased plot ratio if they can prove to planning that their project will create a "public benefit".

    The CoM is concerned that the granting of uplifts based on this public benefit has the potential to be developer driven or with a significant element of developer discretion. It suggests that the community benefits from uplift need to be guided by the need for different types of community assets in the city and that this would be best guided by a consistency with Council policy and planning.

    Basically, they would like to have authority on what constitutes public benefit and what public infrastructure should go where in the city.  

    At the moment the C270 document lists the inclusion of public open space and laneways, on site office use, public space in the building and social housing in the building as examples of ‘public benefits’. But the CoM is seeking to ensure that the uplift mechanism remains consistent to State and Local Government policy regarding integrated and co-located community infrastructure.

    The CoM is concerned with the Ministerial discretion proposed in C270, conceding that they are unclear how decisions about the nature and scale of uplift to be provided will be made.

    Currently, the amendment proposes that the Minister for Planning would retain discretion in the application of decisions related to the uplift provisions on planning approvals for >25,000sqm developments (State Significant Developments).

    But the CoM proposes that mechanisms be put in place to ensure this discretion explicitly incorporates the perspectives of various Government agencies and Ministers with an interest in the environmental, economic and social fabric of the Central City, and the City of Melbourne.

    One way of achieving this, says the CoM, would be for the State to exercise decision making authority in these instances through a Ministerial committee, comprising the Minister for Planning, an economic Minister and a Minister with social or environmental portfolio responsibility.

    The CoM also proposed an increase in the SSD threshold from the current 25,000sqm to 35,000 or 40,000sqm. Suggesting this measure “would reduce duplication and overlap, significantly improve efficiency in the development application process and ensure greater consistency in the application of planning policy within the City.”

    Read the full submission here:

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