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7th June 2017

Putting the 'Bigger Picture' first!

ratio: welcomes this recent decision of VCAT (Ronge v Moreland CC (Red Dot) [2017] VCAT 550 (9 May 2017) which confronts some of the bigger picture issues facing our city, and reminds us that metropolitan wide policies ought to be at the forefront of decision making to manage the sustainable growth of Melbourne in the long term

What is it about?                                                                    

A development of 59 townhouses on a large industrial site in Brunswick that is in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ).

Why are the Tribunal's findings of key interest? 

  • The decision speaks to the recent reforms to the purposes of the NRZ under Amendment VC110.  The Tribunal says these changes have “…lessened both the emphasis on neighbourhood character and on limiting increases in new dwellings. It has shifted the balance in favour of allowing more dwellings in recognition of the necessity to provide additional housing in order to meet the need for the projected 1.6 million new dwellings by 2050.”
  • How a proposed development responds to its context, both strategic and physical, remains the cornerstone of determining ‘what is acceptable outcome’.  
  • How people move around Melbourne has to “radically change, particularly in suburbs so well served by different modes of public transport and where cycling and walking are practical alternatives to car based travel.
  • Where car parking approval is required under Clause 52.06, data on existing car parking usage is of “marginal value” given policy seeks to rely less on private motor vehicles in future.  It was said that such data “should not be given much weight in determining what number of car spaces should be provided in future, for dwellings with different bedroom numbers.”
  • Cautions against oversupplying car parking, including the use of car pods and car share schemes, because “they are still facilitating car based travel which is something that planning policy is seeking to discourage.” 
  • Commercial car share schemes are not to be mandated and, instead, should be left to private operators based on market demand.
  • Requirement for electrical cars in an unreasonable imposition.  

The outcome?  . . . Permit issued.

What does it mean?

  • The Tribunal has highlighted the ability for broader metropolitan wide policies to be implemented on a local level by exercising discretion in favour of net community benefit.
  • Following recent changes to the NRZ we can expect to see more housing growth in the vast tracts of Neighbourhood Residential Zone across Melbourne, including areas such as Boroondara, Glen Eira and Bayside to name a few.
  • Reduced dependence on private motor vehicles, including lower car parking provision for new developments, particularly in areas with best access to trains / trams / buses and walking distance to activity centres.

Should you wish to discuss the above decision or require advice on your existing / upcoming development proposal, please get in touch with Robbie McKenzie or your existing contact at ratio: by calling 9429 3111. 

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