Planning Minister Richard Wynne has released updated draft permanent building controls for Melbourne’s CBD which will now be sent to an independent planning panel for review.  The updated draft controls are further to the interim controls introduced last year (see Collie article of September 2015) that sought to control building heights, setbacks and floor area ratio for locations in the CBD and parts of Southbank.  Under the updated draft controls released this week, the following conditions are proposed.

  • Floor Area Ratio: Development will be restricted to 18 square metres of total floor area for every one square metre of land.  The opportunity does exist to exceed this discretionary floor area ratio if an appropriate public benefit is provided to share added value to a development.  Examples of the intended public benefits include public open space, office use and social housing.  It should be noted that this floor area ratio marks a reduction in the interim guidelines introduced last year which sought a 24 to 1 floor area ratio.
  • Building Separation: Podium heights will be restricted to a discretionary street wall height of 20 metres with the ability to increase this to 40 metres in locations that match existing streetscapes and on certain corners.  A minimum street side and rear setback of 5 metres for towers above the street wall podium for buildings up to 80 metres high above the street wall podium.  The side and rear setbacks can be varied where it can be demonstrated that building to one boundary is justified by context and does not unduly impact neighbours amenity.  A minimum side and rear setback of 6 per cent of the overall height for building over 80 metres and a minimum setback between towers within the same site of 6 per cent of the total combined height.
  • Height Limits: All pre-existing height controls, such as in Bourke Hill have been maintained.  A revised boundary for the Retail Core height controls has also been extended to protect the western side of Elizabeth Street through the application of a design and development overlay.
  • Overshadowing: Reinforced overshadowing requirements have been proposed to protect key public spaces such as Federation Square, The Shrine of Remembrance and the State Library forecourt.

These draft controls will be subject to an independent hearing process that will commence in July, to which submissions can be made until 30 May.  The State Government expects that the final controls will be gazetted into the Melbourne Planning Scheme in September 2016, once the hearing process has been completed and the results have been considered by the Minister.

Whilst opinions on the new controls across the industry have been varied, Collie welcomes planning controls that aim to improve amenity and encourage developers to provide greater public benefits in their developments.