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2 October 2020

New Guidelines for Precinct Structure Plans in Melbourne’s Greenfields

In response to Plan Melbourne 2017-2050, the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) in conjunction with DELWP, are leading the development of updated Guidelines for Precinct Structure Planning in Melbourne’s Greenfields, to ensure that current policy and best practice standards are being met in the greenfield areas.

Yesterday’s PIA seminar, presented by VPA CEO Stuart Moseley and Outer Melbourne Director Brent Mclean, provided a helpful insight into:

  • A new Precinct Structure Plan (PSP) approvals process allowing for two approvals pathways known as a coordination pathway or an innovation pathway, recognising that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to PSP preparation is no longer appropriate.
  • The new draft guidelines that will underpin the preparation of the PSPs for greenfield areas.

The seminar discussed how growth areas have good strategic frameworks in place, yet the delivery over the first 10 years since PSP’s were introduced has often resulted in a prescriptive approach rather than innovation in urban form.

The intent for the new ‘guidelines’ is to create more robust PSP’s that improve growth area liveability, are less prescriptive, allow innovation, and facilitate increased residential densities to implement the 20-minute neighbourhoods concept of Plan Melbourne 2017-2050.

The proposed guidelines identify general planning principles and performance targets to guide the construction of PSPs that in summary seek:

  • Renewed focus on density increasing from the current 15 dwellings to 20 dwellings per hectare, with 30 dwellings per hectare within 800 metres of an activity centre/PPTN in line with 20-minute neighbourhood objectives.
  • A minimum affordable housing target to be set based on the affordable housing practice note.
  • Increased flexibility in open space delivery in terms of size, shape and distribution, with opportunities for smaller and more intensively used spaces.
  • Land for local employment/economic activity should deliver one job per dwelling within the wider growth corridor.
  • Urban greening to create a 30 per cent tree canopy coverage and an increased focus on sustainability and best practice stormwater management.
  • Safe, accessible and well-connected neighbourhoods.
  • Targets for proximity of dwellings to schools, community and health facilities.
  • Renewed focus on staging of development to better alignment between infrastructure and development.

The added emphasis within the guidelines on increased densities, more flexibility in open space provision and the need for improved connectivity will result in some significant changes to the traditional subdivision design often seen within growth areas and is intended to encourage fresh and innovative design.

The VPA is currently exhibiting the updated Guidelines and is encouraging stakeholder feedback to inform a considered set of guidelines.

The draft Guidelines have been prepared with a focus on preparing PSPs for greenfield areas in Melbourne. VPA will seek to engage with regional Councils to identify how the guidelines may be adapted for application in regional areas.

Clearly a more flexible and innovative approach to development in the growth areas is being encouraged.

Our integrated planning, urban design and traffic team has a wealth of experience across growth area planning and greenfield subdivisions and we would be pleased to assist further in understanding the implications of the new guidelines.


Author: Travis Finlayson, Director: Planning


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