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C270 fails to deliver for Southbank Village

08 Dec 2016

C270 fails to deliver for Southbank Village Image

By Sean Car

The State Government officially legislated its C270 amendment of the Melbourne Planning Scheme last month and, unfortunately for residents in Southbank Village, it has failed to hit the mark.  

Despite appointing a ministerial advisory panel to provide recommendations on C270, Minister for Planning Richard Wynne officially adopted the amendment largely unchanged from how it was first proposed.

While C270 provides a clearer vision for development in the central city zone, the Southbank community had hoped mandatory controls would be introduced for the whole of Southbank Village’s low-rise precinct.

The precinct is defined under the Melbourne Planning Scheme as a special character area and the State Government’s amendment will see mandatory controls for the area remain.

However, it’s the discretionary controls along the precinct’s boundary, namely the Sturt St spine, which the local community had hoped to see changed to mandatory.

The community is currently in a battle with a developer to prevent a 67-metre tower from going ahead at 135 Sturt St, which is subject to a 40-metre discretionary height control.  

Under C270, this control will remain but with the introduction of a floor area ratio to guide the discretion that be exercised in relation to overall height.

Speaking at the November 22 Future Melbourne Committee meeting, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the area would remain open to opportunistic developers unless stronger rules were enforced.

“I actually think that 40-metres is too high for this street,” he said. “If you think 40-metres is the top of Manchester Unity (in the CBD) and that is not the streetscape of Sturt St.”

“My plea to the State Government in the strongest terms is going to be around if you want to think about this as an Arts Precinct then you need to step in now and you need to provide protections that will allow it to grow. We’re going to get these opportunistic development proposals put before us unless we do that.”

Speaking at a Southbank community meeting in October, RMIT planning professor Michael Buxton told Southbank Village residents: “The only way that you and residents like you are ever going to win is to get clear mandatory controls.”

The Minister for Planning Richard Wynne didn’t respond to Southbank Local News when quizzed on why mandatory controls were not introduced for the entire precinct.

Southbank Residents’ Association president Tony Penna said the amendment represented a missed opportunity.

“This was a real opportunity for us to protect Southbank Village and that opportunity has now passed,” he said. “I can’t foresee another opportunity coming up anytime soon. It was quite disappointing.”

While C270 provides more clarity around building setback and tower separation, its controversial floor area uplift (FAU) scheme for the provision of public benefits has also been adopted.

C270 sets a plot ratio for all developments of 18:1, which was previously set at 24:1. The scheme means that any development that exceeds this high ratio will be required to provide a public benefit.

However, developers get to have a say in what benefit they incorporate in their development from a list of categories, and while some of these include open space and social housing, competitive tower design and commercial office space are also offered.

The Minister’s panel recommended in its report that the scheme be abandoned with a workable uplift mechanism to be further investigated and to lower the trigger from 18:1, which it deemed very high.

Tony Penna said he was disappointed that the Minister for Planning had ignored his panel’s recommendation.

“We would have liked to have seen the government adopt a scheme where it can identify the community amenity and put the contributions into a community pool,” he said.

“Even the report suggested that was the way to go but he (Richard Wynne) didn’t follow the advice.”

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