New Residential Zones for Victoria

The Planning Minister, Matthew Guy has introduced a range of new residential zones from 1 July this year.

These reformed zones are intended to create more certainty in applying the planning controls to new development across Melbourne and regional Victoria. Implementation of these new zones is a massive impost on Local Government planners, and will take 12 months to finalise the changes.

Several Council’s have quickly adopted the most protective new zone, the  ‘Neighbourhood Residential Zone’ that will limit the density and style of all new development.

We say this is a poor outcome and future generations will shake their heads at this decision.Why should Camberwell remain low density leaving surrounding suburbs to carry their load?We strongly encourage Local Government to apply the new zones with an eye to future population growth and not just protection of perceived “neighbourhood character”. Neighbourhoods gain their unique character by changing over time, not by getting stuck in the timewarp.

We need to increase our density within the existing activity centres and stop the endless sprawl that creates problems with traffic and a severe lack of basic infrastructure in these new communities on the fringe.From our discussions with Council Planners, we anticipate the new ‘General Residential Zone’ will be implemented in many areas that are currently zoned ‘Residential 1 Zone’.

This straight swap should provide a level of certainty for our clients who have an eye to the future development of their property.We are looking closely at the planning implications of these new zones. It was the intention of the reform process to “provide more certainty for residents and developers”. We hope this applies in practice, and not just in theory.

The application of the new ‘Residential Growth Zone’, is of most interest to us and our clients.  This zone allows for increased growth and density and provide for medium density developments. We firmly believe small-scale development is a better solution to our population growth pressure, rather than massive residential towers on the CBD fringe in areas like Docklands or Southbank.

Gentle density increases that respect the existing character and privacy concerns of neighbours is a much better and cost-effective approach to development.