Two-storey height limit may spread across cityThe State Government has opened the door to curbing building heights across Melbourne after backing new limits in the Bayside municipality.
Planning Minister Mary Delahunty has agreed to a Bayside Council request for a two-storey limit across all inland residential areas in the municipality.
She approved a similar limit on Bayside foreshore in July.
Bayside covers Brighton, Brighton East, Hampton, Cheltenham, Sandringham, Black Rock and Beaumaris.
Resident lobby group Save Our Suburbs and the Municipal Association of Victoria have welcomed the Bayside decision as a precedent likely to be acted on by other municipalities.
Yesterday acting Premier John Thwaites confirmed the Government would consider similar requests from other councils.
"As for other areas it will depend upon what particular recommendations are put up by councils,"he said.
"Every municipality puts up its own planning scheme . . . it depends on what the proposal by the particular municipality is."
Under the changes the Bayside planning scheme will specify a preferred maximum building height of two storeys. However the council will have the discretion to grant planning permits for buildings over two levels, and developers will still be able to appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal when permits are refused.
Save Our Suburbs, which has pressed hard for Government action to protect established suburbs, said it was pleasantly surprised by the decision on Bayside.
"The idea of introducing these sorts of controls in Bayside is what we've been proposing for the whole of Melbourne,"said group president Nigel Kirby.
However, Mr Kirby said Save Our Suburbs favoured strict or mandatory height limits that cannot be varied.
"We are pleased the minister has taken this step. However, if we have to say that until there are mandatory controls, our confidence in the system will continue to be tested."
Basically we haven't won anything - we've been screwed.
GARY ANDREWS, councillor
Bayside councillor Gary Andrews also raised doubts about the effectiveness of the new height rules.
"This decision means that when a high-rise application comes before council we may reject it, quoting the new powers given to us by the minister,"he said.
"The applicant can then appeal to the tribunal . . . and if the current success rate for appeals is anything to go by, the tribunal will approve the development.
"A fat lot of good all this is to council. Basically we haven't won anything - we've been screwed."
But the chairman of the council's planning committee, Cr Alex Del Porto, said the Government had supported most of the council's aims.
The Government did refuse the council's request for a three-storey limit in commercial centres, saying the proposal would pre-empt strategic work around the Government's Melbourne 2030 planning blueprint.
"What we are trying to do is ensure that the high-rise or medium-rise areas are concentrated in activity centres where you have a lot of people, you have shops and public transport all in one place,"Mr Thwaites said.
Cr Del Porto said he hoped the Government would change its mind and agree to the three-storey height limit for activity centres.
By Royce Millar, Martin Boulton
January 2, 2004
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