Knox is the latest Council to prepare a planning scheme amendment to introduce the new residential zones across the Municipality.  Unlike many other councils that have been mentioned in our recent zone reform articles, Knox is proceeding with a full planning scheme amendment to implement the new zones.  Amendment C131 to the Knox Planning Scheme is being publicly exhibited and will proceed to a Panel hearing to be reviewed if submissions are received and not accepted.

Amendment C131 seeks to implement the findings of the Knox Housing Strategy (2013), Knox Residential Design Guidelines (2013) and the Rowville Plan (2013).  These three documents have been used to guide the implementation of the new residential zones in Knox.

All three residential zones are to be applied in Knox, with the General Residential Zone being applied to the majority of residential areas.  Areas that have been classified as ‘Bush Suburban’ under the Knox Housing Strategy are proposed to be zoned Neighbourhood Residential.  The majority of these areas are located within the Dandenong Foothills in the east region of the Municipality.  The Residential Growth Zone will be applied to residential areas surrounding activity centres and along some main roads and key public transport corridors.  Knox has prepared a number of schedules to the zones which also form part of the Amendment.

We believe that the proposed application of the residential zones in Knox is a good example of how the new zones were intended to be applied as outlined in the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure (DTPLI) Practice Note 78 (Applying the new residential zones).  Areas of significant character will be protected while residential areas surrounding shops, infrastructure and services will become key locations for growth.  It is reassuring to see that one council at least has attempted to find a reasonable balance between facilitating growth and protecting areas of character and we hope that other councils yet to request planning scheme amendments adopt a similar approach.

Although the proposed zone applications in Knox appear to achieve a reasonable overall balance between facilitating growth and protecting areas of character, some of the proposed schedules to the zones include specific requirements for landscaping which may be difficult to achieve in some instances.  One of the proposed schedules to the General Residential Zone requires one canopy tree per 200 square metres of site area, including a minimum of one canopy tree in the front setback per 5 metres of width of the site.  In addition, each canopy tree should be surrounded by 20 square metres of permeable surface with a minimum radius of 3 metres.  While this may be workable on conventional sized lots it may be difficult to achieve on the smaller lots where higher density housing is encouraged.

Exhibition of Amendment C131 finishes on 28 March 2014.  The full amendment documentation can be found on the DTPLI website:

http://dsewebapps.dse.vic.gov.au/shared/ats.nsf/webviewdisplay?openformKnox Housing Strategy cover Knox Housing StrategyKnox Logo  Residential Design Guidelines Residential Policy Map