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25 October 2021

Amendment C219 to the Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme

The Phoenix rises … again

Readers of the Ratio newsletter may recall various articles (available here and here) which have previously addressed Amendment C219 to the Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme.

At its core, Amendment C219 seeks to introduce a new or amended suite of mainly residential zones (with associated schedules) and various overlays to implement the findings of the ‘Housing and Settlement Strategy: Refresh 2020-2036’ (Mornington Peninsula Shire, 2020) and the ‘Neighbourhood Character Study and Guidelines’ (Ethos Urban, 2019).

Challenges to the Amendment

We support Council’s endeavours to update its application of various residential zones and rationalise the overlay controls affecting various township areas of the Mornington Peninsula, particularly as this amendment grants the region statutory recognition (e.g. Clause 12.05-1S referenced in ‘Mornington Peninsula Localised Planning Statement’, Victorian Government, 2014).

However, although the Mornington Peninsula is not a nominated growth area/corridor, it remains part of Metropolitan Melbourne and has a role to play with respect to the urban consolidation objectives of the planning scheme (housing supply, diversity and affordability). Ultimately, a functional balance must be achieved.

Balancing Policies

Our initial impression of Amendment C219 is that this needful balance between regional growth and preservation has not been achieved.

We do not, for instance, accept that a multi-dwelling development will inherently detract from the region’s values (including character/vegetation and amenities). On the contrary, well-conceived and site-responsive design can deliver many benefits to the Mornington Peninsula, including increased demand for services and facilities (schools, shops etc), provisions of more homes for people seeking to live in the area (thus reducing the challenges of ‘seasonality’) and increased community access to amenities.  

While we appreciate the complexity of the task being undertaken, the approach guiding this premise seems to be entrenched in ideas that further growth to the area is neither necessary or desirable, development exceeding two storeys are inappropriate, most locations for residential development should be placed in areas designated for ‘minimal change’, and overlay controls are to be adjusted rather than formulated from scratch.

Specific concerns arising from Amendment C219 include:

  • The inclusion of the NRZ as proposed will limit the ability to have multi-dwelling developments in appropriate locations.
  • Criteria for including land in the NRZ is that the land must be affected by overlays like the SLO, VPO or ESO. However, these overlays are applied extensively on the Mornington Peninsula, creating the false narrative that multi-dwelling developments cannot be achieved in these areas.
  • The Amendment seeks to apply the NRZ to limited and incremental growth areas, and the GRZ to substantial change areas, which is unnecessarily restrictive.
  • Based on our cursory review it appears that there are far too many schedules for the zones, DDO’s and different character areas, and the proposal for more Secluded Private Open Space than is required for the rest of Victoria is misguided.  It the intention is to limit density and achieve ‘greener’ outcomes, this should be done through the vegetation/site coverage provisions.

As it stands, we believe the approach undertaken is unnecessarily complex and restrictive. Perhaps a more appropriate approach would have been to:

  • Identify areas where substantial, incremental and limited change should reasonably occur (having regard to matters such as proximity to activity centres; employment nodes, and public transport).
  • Apply reasonable locational criteria/proximity parameters to designate ‘change levels’ for the different areas (e.g. substantial change only within or directly proximate to activity centres, incremental change within a comfortable walking distance of activity centres – say 400m, and limited change beyond this).
  • Applying the residential zones in a conventional manner (i.e. MUZ / RGZ for substantial change, GRZ for incremental change and NRZ / LPRZ for minimal change).
  • Tailoring overlay controls and/or policy provisions to identify and protect the existing values and characteristics of a locale.

Final Thoughts

Our primary concerns are that the Amendment places too much land in the NRZ and the layers of controls to support this are too numerous, complex and limiting. For this reason, a satisfactory balance between sometimes-competing policy objectives is not achieved.

Amendment C219 is complex, and we would encourage those with an interest in residential land use on the Mornington Peninsula to explore how they may be affected.

For further assistance or insights, please contact article author David Crowder.

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