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Melbourne is undergoing rapid change and rebalancing, with the Western Region set to accommodate 18% of forecast population growth between 2013 and 2030. The need and potential for employment, investment and development in Melbourne's west, one of the fastest growing urban areas in Australia, cannot be overlooked, or under-estimated. Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 recognises a number of places as Major Activity Centres in the inner west of Melbourne, such as the Sunshine and Footscray Metropolitan Activity Centres and the Maribyrnong-Highpoint  Major Activity Centre.
Maribyrnong and Highpoint Major Activity Centre
Plan Melbourne identifies the Maribyrnong and Highpoint Major Activity Centre (MAC) within the Central Subregion. Located approximately 10 kilometres from the CBD, it contains a predominance of older light industrial and commercial land. Most significantly, the broader activity centre includes Highpoint Shopping Centre with almost 154,000 square metres of retail floor space. The Centre benefits from good access by road and is located on two major tram routes connecting Footscray and the city.
Amendment C135 Highpoint Planning and Urban Design Framework
Following the preparation of Highpoint Activity Centre Structure Plan 2008 and the Northern Maribyrnong Integrated Transport Strategy, the Highpoint Planning and Urban Design Framework were prepared in September 2015. The Framework provided land use and built form guidance for the Highpoint Major Activity Centre, including large-scale rezoning and built form directions for medium to high density mixed-use development.
- Amendment C135 - Highpoint Planning and Urban Design Framework (HPUDF) was gazetted on 1 September 2016 which: Rezoned land within the Highpoint Major Activity Centre, including land currently zoned Industrial 3 Zone to the Commercial 1 Zone or Mixed-Use Zone
- Applied additional overlay controls in the form of either a Design and Development Overlay (DDO) or Development Plan Overlay (DPO)
- Removed the Incorporated Plan Overlay and associated references in the list of Incorporated Documents
- Updated the Municipal Strategic Statement with a new local area policy for the Highpoint Activity Centre
Broadly, the HPUDF seeks to:
- Develop Highpoint MAC from a mainly retail and industrial-led area into a vibrant mixed-use centre for housing, employment and tourism, ensuring transformational change over the next 15 years.
- Ensure retail will remain the key economic driver in the area with Rosamond Road to become a dynamic main street of the Maribyrnong MAC.
- Provide 2,400 dwellings, 15,000 sqm office space, 70,000 sqm retail, and 5,000 sqm of bulky goods for the next 25 years.
- Ensure a preferred height for the highpoint activity centre to the west of Rosamond Road between 3 to 10 storeys (as shown in the diagram here).
- Create new open spaces, including local parks and paths for walking and cycling
Recently Approved Major Developments within the Maribyrnong MAC
Since the gazettal of Amendment C135, there have been three major mixed-use developments approved within the Highpoint Major Activity Centre, including:
- 19-21 White Street (received planning permit in 2018) -12 storey building containing retail at ground floor, 268 dwellings and over 350 car parking spaces.
- 82-96 Hampstead Road -157 townhouses (12 x four storey & 145 x three storey) with over 450 car parking spaces.
- 7 Sloane Street - 10 storey building containing retail at ground floor, 28 dwellings and 28 car parking spaces.
Interestingly, two of the above-mentioned approved developments (19-21 White Street and 7 Sloane Street) included an overall height that exceeded the limit set out in the HPUDF and DDO12. The proposal at 19-21 White Street exceeded the height limit by 2 storeys and was supported by the Council due to the incorporation of the following positive design features:
- Provided a high degree of walkability with less than 10% of the frontage dedicated to car access minimising potential conflict with pedestrians.
- Provided an active frontage with weather protection for more than 80% of the site.
- Proposed parking in the basement and at the rear ensuring parking does not dominate the site.
- Retained a human scale by meeting the preferred street wall (podium) height and massing the taller element towards the middle and rear of the site.
- Ensured no footpaths or public spaces are overshadowed by the additional height.
- The taller element recessed from the street has been provided with various setbacks .
The rezoning of land and incorporation of a number of DDO’s for the Maribyrnong-Highpoint MAC has already resulted in a degree of transformational change to the Centre. Further approvals and development with the MAC will help to realise the vision for this area and build upon its locational advantages of good access to existing retail and public transport services.
If you would like to find out more about how this may affect your project, please get in touch with Chun Guo or your existing contact at ratio:
Author: Chun Guo, Town Planner
 Maribyrnong City Council City Development Special Committee Meeting Minutes, 27 March 2018