A new amendment to the State planning scheme will ensure mandatory height limits within the Bourke Hill heritage precinct. The new controls would give certainty to the community about the form of future developments in the precinct, says the Victorian Government.

According to Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, the handling of the recent development proposals in the precinct, such as the Windsor Hotel, has flagged the need for this new amendment.

“There has been too much uncertainty for too long about what can be built at Bourke Hill,” said Guy.

“By introducing mandatory height controls, we are protecting the uniquely Melburnian built form of this area.”

The response from the State Government comes following news that the Bourke Hill precinct was attracting the attention of big developers. In September last year, Architecture and Design reported that five massive development proposals had been earmarked for the region.

This recent interest by large developers in Melbourne’s former red light district has placed historical buildings in the area at risk of being demolished.

The Minister's action will convert the existing discretionary height limits of 15 metres, 23 metres and 60 metres, east of Exhibition Street into a mandatory status. Additionally, a planning scheme amendment for permanent height controls will be formally exhibited, allowing stakeholders and the public to have a say in the long term built form controls in the precinct.

Amendment C237 to the Melbourne Planning Scheme (implementing interim mandatory height controls) covering the Design and Development Overlay Schedule 2 area east of Exhibition Street, will be gazetted shortly. An amendment for permanent mandatory height controls will be exhibited within one month.