Proposed Amendment Slammed: C140

A recent attempt by Bayside City Council to amend their Neighbourhood Residential Zone (affecting approximately 80% of the residential land in the municipality) raised the ire of residents, professionals and industry bodies alike. The amended schedule to the NRZ was proposed to include a schedule prescribing:

  • A mandatory, minimum 400 sqm lot size for subdivisions.
  • 35% permeability for development sites.
  • Minimum rear setback of 4 metres.
  • A 75 sqm POS requirement, with 60 sqm of this being SPOS
  • A restriction preventing open space from being provided as a balcony or a terrace.

Seasoned designers will recognise the NRZ as the most stringent and restrictive residential zone, often prescribing maximum dwelling numbers (with a default of two), maximum building heights (with a default of 8m) and other, sometimes onerous, variations to Clause 55 Rescode.

The additional restrictions proposed by Bayside were considered by many as outrageous and a substantial impost on the future developability of the municipality. Clause 1 presented at the Panel hearing on behalf of landowners who would have seen the developability of their land severely constricted by these amendments. The BDAV also presented on behalf of members. All-in-all almost 900 submissions were received for and against the proposed Amendment.

In their consideration of the Amendment, the independent Panel was scathing in its criticism, making only one recommendation – that Amendment C140 be abandoned altogether. Some notable findings from the Panel report, include the following;

  • Given the municipality already has approximately 80 per cent coverage of the most restrictive residential zone, a strong case for further restrictive controls would have to be made out. Council failed to do so.
  • Council’s approach to effectively stifle nearly all development in established residential areas with the assumption all housing needs can be met in medium to high density development in activity centres along the Frankston Rail Line is fundamentally flawed.
  • Although the Amendment purports to implement the Housing Strategy, some of the most significant elements such as changes to the Neighbourhood Residential Zone schedule: – do not derive from the Housing Strategy and were explicitly identified by Council in the Hearing as having no strategic basis or specific analysis behind them.

Clause 1 feels that Bayside’s attempt to introduce Amendment C140 had more than a hint of NIMBY-protectionism about it and has now been shown by the independent Panel as being totally unjustified.

It is interesting to speculate on the cost of this exercise: with almost 900 submissions, private consultants’ involvement, industry bodies’ involvement, a three-person independent Panel that sat for more than 8 eight days and inspected nearly 60 properties, not to mention approximately 2yrs work by Council’s planners – the total cost must run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Wouldn’t it be nice if some of those resources were dedicated to speeding up the approval process for  infill development, rather than attempting to stifling it.

Bayside has advised they intend to examine the findings of the Panel Report at their July Council meeting, should any readers be interested in attending.

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