_VPA to Update Precinct Structure Planning Guidelines

The Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) has prepared new draft guidelines for precinct structure planning in Melbourne’s Greenfields.

As an overall comment, the draft guidelines appear to be largely a re-badging of the previous Precinct Structure Planning (PSP) Guidelines with only a handful of revised or new performance targets.  The draft guidelines do move away however, from the current PSP approach of requirements and conditions, to a more performance based target approach.  At this stage, it appears this new approach may offer more discretion in regard to meeting those targets specified, when compared to the more mandatory current PSP approach.  This will need to be confirmed however, once the revised guidelines are finalised.

The revised or new performance targets sought by the draft guidelines include dwelling density, job density, canopy coverage, education and community facilities and affordable housing.  In relation to dwelling density, we note the following updates.

  • PSPs should facilitate increased densities with a minimum of 30 dwellings or more per net developable hectare (NDH) where located within an 800 metres walkable catchment of an activity centre, train station or principal public transport network.
  • PSPs should facilitate increased densities with a minimum of 20 dwellings or more per NDH across the entire PSP area. 

In addition to revised or new performance targets and as part of the review, the VPA is proposing two pathways for the preparation of PSPs.  These two pathways are the ‘coordination’ pathway and the ‘innovation’ pathway, as summarised below.  

The coordination pathway will be used most of the time and incorporates the general principles and performance targets of the draft guidelines.

This approach appears to be the ‘business as usual’ approach to PSP preparation and does not vary greatly from the existing process of the VPA formulating and preparing the PSP with input where required from other stakeholders (Council, land owners and developers).   

The innovation pathway will be used when key partners agree to pursue performance elevated above that specified in the draft guidelines, such as situations with ‘place specific’ conditions, consolidated land ownership, strategic partnership or catalyst infrastructure or investment.  

Whilst this approach sounds positive in theory in that it allows a developer to work closely with the VPA to have an enhanced outcome for a PSP where the developer owns the majority of the land, we question how effective in practice this approach will be.  Specifically, we question how a matter will be resolved where there is conflict between two stakeholders over a particular outcome sought (such as density requirements or built form provisions).  Further information on the draft Precinct Structure Plan guidelines is available at the link.

We also note, the draft guidelines are open for public feedback until Wednesday 11 November.