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22nd March 2017

Residential Zone Review – An Update

The Minister for Planning has recently announced details of upcoming reforms to the Residential Zones with a particular focus on the Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ) and General Residential Zone (GRZ). Following on from our previous newsletter (which you can read here), further information is now available: 

  • The new zones are likely to be gazetted at the end of this month as part of Planning Scheme Amendment VC110, ahead of the introduction of Plan Melbourne Refresh.  We understand that the zones are current being drafted by DEWLP so the precise wording and nature of the zones, including the transitional arrangements, are still not known.
  • The purposes of the residential zones will change.  For example, the current purpose in the NRZ which seeks to limit residential development, will be deleted.  The new NRZ purpose is likely to focus the restriction of the development of land in areas where there is identified sensitivities, such as heritage, neighbourhood character or environmental constraints.  This will likely mean that in suburban areas, where there are no planning policies or overlays which identify development restrictions or limitations, the density of land will be predominantly assessed on the ‘Garden Area’ neighbourhood character and other traditional planning considerations.
  • DELWP has confirmed that any planning application lodged prior to the gazettal of VC110 will have the benefit of transitional provisions, which will exempt applications from the mandatory controls, such as height and ‘Garden Area’.  This should give comfort to developers with existing applications under assessment.  We would reasonably expect that, just like applications which benefited from the transitional arrangements when the NRZ was first introduced, that the formal amending of plans would void these transitional arrangements if lodged after the new zones are gazetted.
  • In instances where there is a Schedule to the NRZ or GRZ which varies the mandatory building height above the proposed mandatory control of 9 and 11 metres respectively, the taller height in the schedule will continue to apply for up to three years, giving Council’s the opportunity to seek their permanent inclusion.
  • In situations, primarily in the GRZ, where there is an existing Design and Development Overlay (DDO) which specifies a building height greater than the new mandatory height in the zone, the height in the zone will take precedence. For example, in areas within a GRZ where there is a DDO with a preferred height of 6 storeys (as currently within some areas of the City of Yarra), the mandatory 11m height will apply. We believe this is an unintended consequence of the residential zone reform and expect that this anomaly will be reviewed by DEWLP and potentially amended as part of the Smart Planning Program if it is not fixed before the gazettal period.  We would reasonably expect the number of schedules to the residential zones to also be reviewed as part of the Smart Planning Program.
  • The State Government will convene a working group, comprising local Council, industry and other stakeholders to investigate how to best provide aged care facilities into residential areas.  This is likely to occur in April.
  • New Ministerial Directions, Planning Practice Notes and Advisory Notes on the implementation of the reformed residential zones will be released by June 30.  This is unlikely to have any impact on the existing widespread use of the NRZ throughout Melbourne.
  • The State of Play reports, which provided useful data on housing as part of the Advisory Committee Review of the Zones, will be undertaken on an annual basis.  This should provide clearer information on how the zones are impacting on housing supply, diversity and affordability.

If you have any questions regarding the new zones and how they might affect you, please do not hesitate to contact ratio: on 03 9429 3111 or 

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