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New planning blueprint calls for more development in Melbourne’s Middle Ring suburbs

With Melbourne bracing to expand to a population of 8 million by 2051, Richard Wynne, Victorian Planning Minister, confirmed that leafy middle ring suburbs like Doncaster, Glen Waverly and Hampton have been targeted for a new wave of development. More dwellings will have to be accepted in established municipalities to help the city cater for impending growth.

Melbourne’s school population will grow by 500,000 by 2051. And the transport network, already bursting at the seams on some routes, will have to cater for another 10.4 million journeys every day.

The sustainability for housing development on Melbourne’s fringes has reached a tipping point. The Government’s message is housing development on the city’s outer ring has to be supplemented with a wave of development in Melbourne’s established suburbs.

More dwellings for Middle Ring blocks

The Government intends to relieve pressure on outer growth areas that produced decades of breakneck expansion and loss of agricultural land that had serviced the city, directing a sharper gaze at existing spacious suburbs and their large blocks.
The revised Plan Melbourne blueprint does away with the limit of 2 dwellings per block in the middle ring, giving developers the opportunity to construct more townhouses, villas and units.

But while opening up more options for development of existing blocks in the middle ring the new blueprint provides measures to protect these suburbs’ greenery.

Garden space mandatory

Housing blocks of 400 sqm plus will have to provide some minimum garden area. This is to limit the trend of boundary-to-boundary dwellings in the ‘McMansion’ style that offer little for the neighborhood in terms of greenery or permeability.

According to Planning Minister Mr. Wynne, maintaining Melbourne renowned living standards must include “preserving the Aussie backyard”.

Conflict with homeowners likely

The new regulations open up opportunities for developers but the media is flagging conflict in neighbourhoods determined to protect their turf.

The changes will challenge many perceptions homeowners have that their property is protected from higher density development. There will be a lot of friction between residents and the Andrews Government as the new rules take effect.

The major strategy points:

  • Locating 70% of new housing construction in established suburbs.
  • Maximum mandatory height limits will apply. 9 meters in Neighbourhood Residential zones. 11 meters in General Residential zones. (But councils can pursue a variance to this, and developers can still seek a higher margin at VCAT).
  • New blocks of 400 to 500 sqm must have garden areas no smaller than 25% of the block.
  • Sites between 501 and 650 sqm must have 30% garden area.
  • Blocks bigger than 650 sqm must have 35% garden area.
  • The new rules take effect starting April 2017