New Residential Zones – No Go Grow

This article first appeared in The Age and provides a good overview of Minister Guy’s latest changes to the Residential Zones within the Planning system.

The proposed changes to the Residential zones to create three new categories colloquially referred to as “No” “Go” “Grow” zones have yet to be released for consultation, but already concerns are being raised that these new zones will not support efforts to increase densities in Melbourne’s existing suburbs.

The Age 12 July 2012
Tom Arup
AN OVERHAUL of residential planning zones in Victoria has been welcomed by planning and council groups, but attacked by Labor as a bid to protect backyards in wealthy suburbs.

The overhaul, foreshadowed by the Baillieu government yesterday, will involve the biggest changes to urban zoning since the 1990s Kennett era.

It will bring in new restrictions on development in some areas, but relaxed restrictions in others – including in so-called green wedges.

For the first time, Melbourne will be divided into three distinct residential zone categories, each of which will have different rules affecting development. They will be:

■”Neighbourhood residential zones” in which the local features are deemed to need protection, and where there will be the toughest restrictions on development – including on some types of subdivisions and high-rise projects.

■”General residential zones” in which modest growth and development will be permitted.

■”Residential growth zones” in which high-density development will be allowed.
The government will also bring in changes to commercial zoning, meaning owners of shops, offices and hotels can expand and build in some shopping strips without the need for a council permit.

The changes will remove floor space caps on office and retail projects in commercial zones and allow supermarkets into more areas.

In green wedges the government has flagged removing planning restrictions to allow more tourism and agricultural projects.

Unveiling the plans yesterday, Planning Minister Mathew Guy did not identify in which suburbs the new residential zones would apply, leaving councils to largely make the decisions.
He also did not make public key details of the changes. Nor has the government released a review of residential zones commissioned under the previous Brumby Labor government, which is understood to underpin some of the changes.
Mr Guy’s spokeswoman said both the full details and the review would be released next Monday.

Opposition spokesman for government scrutiny Martin Pakula questioned the changes, saying: ”It seems reading between the lines there is going to be one rule for backyards in places like Hawthorn and Malvern and the sky’s the limit elsewhere.”

Planning Institute of Australia Victorian president Steve Dunn said while the group did not have full details, based on what has been released they were good reforms.

The government will allow a two-month period to provide feedback on impacts of the recommended changes, with a view to introducing the final reforms in October.