11 Jun Fast Tracking Development in Melbourne’s North
A new amendment to the Planning Scheme is being proposed by Moreland City Council. The amendment will streamline the approval of two dwelling developments throughout the municipality. The proposal is to introduce a new class of VicSmart application that will allow for two dwelling applications to be processed faster, as long as a number of criteria are met. This new class of application is proposed to be introduced in both the Neighbourhood Residential Zone and the General Residential Zone.
In order to be fast tracked the applications will need to meet:
- All specified Clause 55 standards including the standards relating to setbacks, site coverage, overshadowing and private open space requirements.
- The required amount of car parking as specified in Clause 52.06.
- Design requirements for garages and crossovers to protect street trees and minimise impacts to the street and parking.
- The garden area requirement.
- The maximum building height requirement.
- Standards for accessibility and Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD).
Planning applications that can meet all of these requirements will then be fast tracked under the VicSmart process. You can read more about the VicSmart process here.
There are a number of features of the VicSmart process including:
- Significantly shorter time to a decision
- If Council doesn’t decide the application within 10 days you can appeal at VCAT
- There are no notice or objector appeal rights
- Pre-set information for Council to consider
If approved, the proposed amendment will provide for greater certainty for all landowners. The intention is to make the Clause 55 and ESD standards mandatory rather than discretionary to improve housing outcomes, while also freeing up Council resources. You can read more about the proposed planning scheme amendment here.
It was interesting to read that Moreland Council did an analysis of objections to two dwelling applications. They found that even though many applications received objections, very few of the applications had any changes made as a result of the notice process. Furthermore, any changes were generally very minor. On this basis they determined that there was a very low return on investment of the time and cost of objections and VCAT appeals by neighbours. From our nearly 20 years of experience with planning applications, both within Council and in private practice has shown us a similar view. It is good to see that a similar view has been found with the research.
This is a great first step to provide a greater level of certainty for property owners. It is hoped that similar amendments will be applied to other planning schemes in the future to provide this certainty throughout Melbourne. The planning scheme amendment is just at the beginning stages with public exhibition, so it could be some time before a decision is made. We will provide an update when the amendment has been progressed.