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Height limits in major activity centres

Council is seeking preferred maximum height limits in majority activity centres that can only be exceeded by a set percentage.  We are also seeking planning controls that enable compulsory financial contributions in exchange for additional height above preferred limits.

The issue

Council has structure plans in place for all major activity centres designated for growth. This aims to achieve the increase in housing needed to accommodate our growing population while effectively managing the height and scale of new development to protect our city’s valued attributes.

Discretionary height limits are in place in all our major activity centres. These provide guidance on preferred building height limits. Repeated attempts to introduce mandatory height limits in activity centres, which would prohibit development proposals exceeding set limits, have been rejected by successive ministers for planning.

In recent times, the development sector has demonstrated an increasing disregard for discretionary height controls, and VCAT decisions vary. Disregard for discretionary height controls is not only a significant issue in the City of Bayside, but a growing trend across Melbourne, putting community confidence in the current planning system at risk.

Nearly 40% of residents surveyed for Council’s 2018 Community Satisfaction Survey reported building, housing, planning and development as their biggest concern. This is more than three times the metropolitan average of 10.9%. The size, height and set-back distances of buildings, and the number of new developments were the main points of dissatisfaction for residents.

Community feedback on this issue

“Many residents are tired of development proposals that ignore planning guidelines and reach for height limits well beyond community expectations,” John Balmer, Hampton Neighbourhood Association, Vice President

The opportunity

Council is seeking support to help strengthen controls to manage height limits in Bayside’s major activity centres. These include:

  • A percentage maximum that discretionary height limits can be exceeded and height beyond that is prohibited
  • Stronger criteria to justify exceeding discretionary height limits
  • Compulsory financial contributions from developers in exchange for additional height above preferred limits. This could include funding towards additional open space, streetscape improvements, public art or floor space for community uses, public housing or office space.