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The Victorian Government has announced a new wave of interim planning controls for a key section of the Yarra River in inner Melbourne, the second of its kind in a six-month period.  

The new controls are effective immediately and will apply until 31 December 2017. They will include mandatory building height and setback rules to guide development along the river within the City of Yarra jurisdiction while permanent controls are being finalised.

This is the second time in six months that the government has made over night changes to planning controls in Melbourne, the other being a 12-month interim period for developments within the city’s CBD, announced without warning in September 2015.

The difference between the two is that the Yarra River interim controls do come as less of a surprise. There has been some concern in the community and from the City of Yarra council about the level and types of development popping up along the river front, particularly in the town of Abbotsford.

These concerns came to a boil recently when a plan was lodged from property developer Salta to build two massive apartment buildings on the banks of the Yarra at Abbotsford (pictured below). The development site in question lies within a priority development zone administered by Victorian Planning, which means Yarra Council and residents have no say in whether it can be developed.


Two multi-residential developments are planned for the river banks of the Yarra, much to the dismay of some. Above is a two-tower, 539-apartment development at 627 Victoria Street, below is a 12-storey tower to be built 30 metres from the river shores. Images: Fairfax


It’s the second development plan for the area from Salta to be criticised by the public in as many months. The first came in December 2015 when news broke that they planned to build a 12-storey tower in Abbotsford, 30 metres from the Yarra banks (pictured above).

When in opposition the Andrews Government did promise to introduce a Yarra River Protection Act to protect the corridor and develop standardised planning controls for the 240-kilometre stretch of the river between Richmond and Warrandyte.

In December the new government made moves to deliver on that promise by announcing the establishment of a new Yarra River Protection Ministerial Advisory Committee who would “drive consultation and draft the new Yarra River Protection Act, legislating for long-term protection”.

The committee will be chaired by Chris Chesterfield who has nearly 30 years experience in the public sector and will begin consultation with residents, businesses and river users imminently.