State Paves The Way For More Outdoor Dining in Melbourne

State Paves The Way For More Outdoor Dining in Melbourne

Town planning exemptions to support outdoor dining in Melbourne

As part of the plan to help existing restaurants, pubs and the like reopen safely in Melbourne, an amendment has been introduced into all planning schemes. The planning scheme amendment introduces a new Clause (52.18) to support outdoor dining without requiring a planning permit.

In a nutshell, the exemptions allow for the usual planning permit triggers to be waived to support the temporary expansion of outdoor areas for eating and drinking. The exemptions will apply for 12 months from when a state of emergency is declared.

The activities where exemptions apply are:

  • Use of public land for preparing/selling and eating food and drink (including alcohol).
  • Temporary expansion of an existing food and drink premises into adjoining land.
  • Construction of a temporary or moveable building associated with an existing food and drink premises.

Furthermore, the Clause also provides an exemption on conditions from existing planning permits issued prior to this amendment (before 21 October 2020). Conditions relating to the approved layout and car parking will not apply during the exemption period. This means that these businesses can expand their outdoor areas, even converting parking areas to dining areas during this time.

The exemptions only apply for existing businesses and there are a number of conditions that need to be met:

  • The use must not unreasonably affect the amenity of the neighbourhood including through traffic and emissions.
  • Land that is within 30m of a residential zone must not be used for outdoor dining between 10pm and 7am unless there is an existing planning permit that allows it.
  • Any temporary building placed on the land must be no higher than 3.6m.
  • A temporary building must be setback at least 1m from adjacent land in a residential zone if it is over 1.8m high.
  • The exemptions do not apply to altering, painting or carrying out works on an existing building within a Heritage Overlay.
  • Any building to be put on land covered by a Bushfire Management Overlay or Erosion Management Overlay that would normally require a planning permit, must be sited to the satisfaction of the Council.
  • Any building to be put on land covered by a flooding or innundation overlay that would normally require a planning permit, must be sited to the satisfaction of the floodplain authority.

Any buildings placed on the land under these exemptions must be removed before the end of the exemption period. After the exemption period the use can only continue in accordance with a planning permit and the requirements of the planning scheme.

These planning permit exemptions will get rid of some red-tape for businesses to help them to be able to open sooner. The exemptions will complement the introduction of “parklets” (for example this program at Moonee Valley) and use of public land for dining that have already been rolled out around Melbourne, as well as the State government funding provided for outdoor furniture and the like that was introduced. Given Melbourne’s unpredictable weather it is good to see that temporary/moveable buildings are included in the exemption, so that shelters can also be put up!

If the temporary buildings or outdoor areas prove popular, the restaurants can look to make them permanent. The 12 month exemption period could be used to apply for a planning permit while using the space temporarily. This is a good way to support these businesses and allow for some to even expand permanently. Hopefully the planning permit exemptions as well as the local and state support will see restaurants, cafes and pubs open soon.