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Let's Talk Planning

A conversation about growth and change in Bayside

 

The Victorian Government has mandated that all areas in and around Melbourne (not just Bayside) must take their share of our state’s population growth. This we cannot change.

For Bayside this means an additional 7,500 homes by 2036.

However, many residents are already concerned that Bayside is being overdeveloped and want Council to stop growth, or better manage the impacts on traffic, trees and vegetation, and the character of an area. Planning and development was one of the top three local issues raised in the latest community satisfaction survey in early 2021.

It’s a challenge, and there is no easy solution. So we’re starting an open and honest conversation about it.

Tell us what you want to know

We've kicked off the conversation below by answering some common questions. Check these out and then tell us - what do you want to know more about? What topics would you like explored? What questions would you like us to answer?

We will update the questions and answers on this page regularly and from early next year explore the key topics raised in more detail – openly and honestly. Look out for articles in Let’s Talk Bayside magazine, This Week in Bayside enewsletter and updates on social media. You can also sign-up for the enewsletter to receive updates direct to your inbox.

Quick facts

Bayside’s population is growing and also changing:

  • Over the last five years to 2021, our population grew by 6,464 residents
  • Our population is expected to increase by a further 11,493 residents by 2031 and 25,337 by 2050
  • Household sizes are decreasing, with more lone person households than ever before
  • Our community is getting older with higher levels of disability
  • An estimated 7,500 new homes will be needed by 2036 for our growing community that meet their changing needs and preferences.

Bayside has some of the strongest planning regulations in all of Metropolitan Melbourne:

  • 83% of Bayside is zoned for minimal growth, with a mandatory two-storey height limit – one of the highest proportions of any Victorian municipality
  • Mandatory height limits are in place across almost all of Bayside (as opposed to discretionary limits which are more easily challenged), so the scale of future development is clear.

A mix of development is happening throughout Bayside:

  • Almost half of development in Bayside is incremental growth, such as side-by-side townhouses
  • Medium and high-density development is designated to activity/shopping centres and priority sites (limited to approximately 15% of Bayside).

Council is building on its existing framework to manage growth:

Side by side townhouses

Your questions and answers

When a footpath or any public asset (such as a road, crossing, nature strip) is affected by a development or building works, the developer must restore it back to equal or better condition.

Council has engineering guidelines that specify the design and construction methods to make sure they are high quality and meet accessibility requirements.

Developers pay a bond at the start of their works that is released back to them once Council is satisfied that the footpath has been replaced properly. In areas where the existing footpath is older and in need of upgrade, Council may contribute to the replacement and upgrade of the footpath, rather than have the developer replace it to the previous standard.

More broadly, Council maintains approximately 726km of footpaths in the road reserve.

Residential footpaths are inspected every 12 months, while significant footpaths (such as those in commercial areas) are inspected every 6 months. Residents can report issues with footpaths to feed into Council’s maintenance schedule. To report a footpath that is damaged or raised, please fill out the report a raised or damaged footpath form


The northern boundary is Bamfield Street. More detailed maps and information is available in the Sandringham Village Structure Plan.

Council has Neighbourhood Character Guidelines within the planning scheme that set out the preferred character attributes of an area.

In planning terms, ‘character’ is a description of how distinctive and common features of an area come together to form a visual identity – put simply, it’s the look and feel of a place. For example, building height, building materials, landscaping, setbacks from boundaries and many more elements combine to form a local character.

The spread and intensity of development in Bayside is clearly defined in the planning scheme with 83% of Bayside zoned for minimal growth (maximum two-storeys) and higher density development directed to clearly defined Activity/shopping Centres and Strategic Redevelopment sites (as shown on the Residential Strategic Framework Plan map).

The planning system does not include any legal provisions to prevent the demolition of a well-maintained home should the owner choose to do so (provided it is not subject to any special protections such as heritage). What the planning scheme does do, through Neighbourhood Character Guidelines, is set the preferred character attributes that any new development on that site should fit in with and contribute to. Residents can lodge objections to proposed new development if they feel it will not fit within the neighbourhood character through the planning permit process.

While heritage protection is used to preserve and maintain significant heritage values as they are, neighbourhood character is something that evolves over time, especially in areas of higher growth and change, like Bayside’s Activity/shopping Centres and Strategic Redevelopment sites.

Council is currently seeking feedback from the community about your preferred future character in Bayside’s General Residential Zones (or areas where more intense development is being directed). You can get involved here until 16 January 2022.

Next year Council will also be seeking feedback from the community about your preferred future character in Bayside’s Neighbourhood Residential Zones (or the majority of Bayside that is zoned for minimal growth)


A Strategic Redevelopment Site is a location identified by the Victorian Government’s Plan Melbourne and the Bayside Planning Scheme as locations capable of accommodating medium to high density housing growth

 

There are five strategic redevelopment sites identified in Bayside. The sites are the former CSIRO site, Nepean Hwy/Union Street and Nepean Hwy/Milroy Streets in Brighton, Barr St Hampton East and Jack Road in Pennydale. These are generally larger sites that are in sole ownership or are located close to facilities and services.


Approximately 15% of Bayside is zoned for growth, with 83% zoned for minimal growth and 2% consisting of parks and open space.


Generally the mandatory height limits in the 15% of Bayside that is zoned for growth vary from 3 storeys to a maximum of 6 storeys, though in some locations these are able to be varied. To find out the specific height limits in these key areas you can look at the relevant Structure Plan and Development Plan documents which can be found here: Structure and development plans | Bayside City Council

In the Hampton Activity Centre , the mandatory height is 3 storeys in residential zoned areas.  In commercial zones, there is no mandatory height controls, only preferred heights, which go up to 6 storeys.


The planning system in Victoria is managed by the State Government and is the overall responsibility of the Minister for Planning.

There are a range of rules and regulations in the Victorian Planning Scheme that guide development to make sure it is appropriate. This includes Residential Design Standards (ResCode), Better Apartment Design Standards and tailored local policies and controls for Bayside.

A Council’s role in the planning system is to:

  1. help inform and propose localised planning regulations for approval and inclusion in the State Government’s planning scheme (rules), and
  2. administer these planning rules in its local area, through the planning permit process.
As a Council doesn’t ‘own’ or have the final say on the planning rules, its planning decisions can be appealed at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). VCAT is a State Government entity (but independent) that is not as formal as a court, but a tribunal that hears and decide cases according to law. Therefore, VCAT has the power to overrule a Council planning decision based on the application of the law.


The more legally robust Council’s decisions on planning permit applications, the less likely they will be overturned by VCAT if they are appealed.

A challenge is that sometimes what is acceptable by law (planning scheme), is unacceptable for the local community. The other challenge is that law is not always black and white, but open to interpretation. Councils’ try to make the best decision in this context.

Find out more about the planning permit process here.


Bayside has more than 1,500 properties included in a heritage overlay which provides planning protection to historic buildings, landscapes, places and objects recognised as culturally, architecturally and or historically significant. Council’s Revised Heritage Action Plan 2020 includes a full review of buildings of all eras across Bayside over the next fifteen years, commencing with the Mid-Century Modern Heritage Study which is to be completed in 2021/22.

While heritage protection is used to preserve and maintain significant heritage values as they are, neighbourhood character is something that evolves over time, especially in areas of higher growth and change, like Bayside’s Activity/shopping Centres and Strategic Redevelopment sites.

Council is currently seeking feedback from the community about your preferred future character in Bayside’s General Residential Zones including Well Street Brighton (or areas where more intense development is being directed). You can get involved here until 16 January 2022.


The planning system does not include any legal provisions to prevent the demolition of a property not included in the heritage overlay should the owner choose to do so. What the planning scheme does do, through Neighbourhood Character Guidelines, is set the preferred character attributes that any new development on that site should fit in with and contribute to. Residents can lodge objections to proposed new development if they feel it will not fit within the neighbourhood character through the planning permit process.


The State Government sets the process for assessing planning permit applications, and the criteria for what a decision about a planning application can and can’t be based on.

Council assesses and decides on planning permit applications in Bayside following State Government rules, regulations, process and criteria.

Community members can also raise concerns about proposed development through the planning permit assessment process (known as ‘objections’). Solutions are sought (where possible) through consultation with all parties before Council decides whether to grant a permit. Not all types of permit applications are able to be publicly advertised as there are exemptions set up for certain application types.

If the applicant or an objector is unhappy with Council’s decision, or Council takes too long to decide (more than 60 days), they can request an independent review by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). VCAT has the power to overrule a Council’s decision.

Find out more about the planning permit process here.


An estimated 7,500 new homes will be needed in Bayside by 2036. Of this approximately:

  • Most of this housing growth will be in our suburb centres and priority development sites. These areas make up about 15% of Bayside and are shown on the map below.
  • A smaller amount of housing growth will be spread across the remainder of Bayside’s residential area (about 83% of Bayside)

Council has a vision and tailored planning provisions for each activity centre in Bayside to guide the growth and change in that area.

The former CSIRO site in Highett will see the largest housing growth in Bayside. This is because it is the largest remaining available space in Bayside and close to shops and services. Other priority development sites are at Nepean Hwy/Union Street and Nepean Hwy/Milroy Streets in Brighton, Barr St Hampton East and Jack Road in Pennydale.

 


The planning system in Victoria is managed by the State Government and is the overall responsibility of the Minister for Planning. A Council’s role in that system is to:

  1. help inform and propose localised planning regulations for approval and inclusion in the State Government’s planning scheme (rules), and
  2. administer these planning rules in its local area, through the planning permit process.

As a Council doesn’t ‘own’ or have the final say on the planning rules, its planning decisions can be appealed at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). VCAT is a State Government entity (but independent) that is not as formal as a court, but a tribunal that hears and decide cases according to law. Therefore, VCAT has the power to overrule a Council planning decision based on the application of the law.

The more legally robust Council’s decisions on planning permit applications, the less likely they will be overturned by VCAT if they are appealed.

A challenge is that sometimes what is acceptable by law (planning scheme), is unacceptable for the local community. The other challenge is that law is not always black and white, but open to interpretation. Councils’ try to make the best decision in this context.

Bayside City Council receives approximately 1,100 to 1,250 planning applications each year. In 2021-21, 75 Bayside planning matters were considered at VCAT. Of that, 24 were settled prior to a VCAT hearing, and 44 were heard by VCAT where Council’s decision was upheld for 23 matters and overturned for 21 matters (the remaining matters were withdrawn).

Council’s Senior Planning Officers will attend and represent Council at a VCAT hearing and Council will often also engage legal representation. Anyone who lodged an objection to a planning permit application can also participate in the VCAT process. Even if Council approves a permit application, any objectors can lodge an independent appeal of Council’s decision at VCAT.


Clause 55 of the Bayside Planning Scheme sets out the rules around overshadowing and overlooking including:

  • Clause 55.04-5 – Overshadowing open space objective, which seeks to ensure that buildings do not significantly overshadow existing secluded private open space.
  • Clause 55.04-6 – Overlooking objective, which seeks to limit views into existing seclude private open space and habitable room windows.

To assess these rules, it is mandated by the State Government that planners use the 21 September equinox.

Council could potentially attempt to change these rules through a Planning Scheme Amendment, however given that the rules are state-wide, it is unlikely changes would be supported on an individual municipality basis.


There are a range of rules and regulations in the Victorian Planning Scheme that guide development to make sure it is appropriate. This includes Residential Design Standards (ResCode), Better Apartment Design Standards and tailored local policies and controls for Bayside.

In a residential zone, if a lot is over 500m2 and there are no specific overlays eg Heritage or Special Building Overlay, then a planning permit is not be required providing that it was only for a single dwelling or an extension.  Any development of two or more dwellings on a lot will always require a permit and will be assessed against all the rules to determine whether a permit is given.


Council requires developers of large projects in Bayside to contribute to upgrades of community infrastructure.

This includes contributing to the upgrade of the drainage network to accommodate increases in population and housing. The Bayside Drainage Contribution Plan requires developers of multi-dwelling, new commercial and non residential developments to pay a levy towards the cost of upgrades to Bayside’s municipal drainage network.

Developers proposing to subdivide land into three or more lots are required to make a contribution of 5% of the site value as an Open Space Contribution. Council uses these funds to create and upgrade public parks, playgrounds and reserves.

Council also considers the way a proposed development interfaces with surrounding properties, the streetscape and any adjacent open space under the planning scheme. This would form part of Council’s decision to approve or reject an application or recommend amendments to ensure the building complements the local area.


As our population grows, so does the number of vehicles using our roads and streets. This is putting traffic and parking pressure on our residential streets which we know is being acutely experienced in some areas.

Council uses parking restrictions and permits to manage this as best as possible. In areas of concern, Council Officers conduct a Local Area Traffic Management Study to identify what changes may be required to help improve traffic movement and safety. Residents are encouraged to report parking issues to us via our Report a Problem form or 9599 4444.

However, the reality is that as a community we need to change how we move around. Historically our cities were designed to prioritise the car, and as a society we’ve become reliant, but with population growth it’s becoming mathematically impossible to fit more cars in. We need to prioritise walking, cycling and public transport so they become just as easy, efficient and convenient as car travel. Noting that car travel will still be an important part of the mix for certain circumstances.

Council has an Integrated Transport Strategy that covers Bayside’s entire transport system, designed to ensure it is well connected, safe, accessible and convenient. This is supported by a range of other strategies like the Bayside Walking Strategy,  Bicycle Action Plan 2019-26 and the Public Transport Advocacy Statement.

Focussing housing growth in our suburb centres and areas well connected to public transport is also an important part of the strategy.


There are several ways Council tries to encourage development that fits in with the natural environment. These include:

  • Applying special requirements (called ‘overlays’) across parts of Bayside through the Bayside Planning Scheme. These apply further protections to trees and vegetation and include a Heritage Overlay, Significant Landscape Overlay, Vegetation Protection Overlay and Erosion Management Overlay.
  • Maintaining a Significant Tree Register that applies higher levels of protection to identified significant trees (residents can nominate trees to be included)
  • A Local Law that requires a permit for removal of trees of a certain size on private land, and requires a replacement tree planted if removal is approved

Council’s Draft Urban Forest Strategy also includes actions such as:

  • Increase tree canopy cover to reach 25% across Bayside by 2030 by planting more than 2,000 trees each year
  • Create a healthy and resilient urban forest with habitat biodiversity for locally endangered and native species
  • Improve how we monitor and track the health and extent of our urban forest
  • Maintain existing canopy cover and avoid further decline through strengthening tree protections
  • Support services and resources to encourage greater care of our urban forest

Council also holds the Bayside Built Environment Awards to recognise design excellence and raise awareness of design, landscape and heritage issues. The awards include a category recognising ecological sustainable design.


The map below illustrates the growth zones across Bayside including those in Sandringham.

The Sandringham Major Activity Centre is the main area designated for growth in the suburb, with a site on the cnr of Beach Road and Georgiana Street identified as a strategic redevelopment site (minimal residential growth).

Small Activity Centres on the corners of Bluff Road/Bay Road, Bay Road/Avoca Street, Bay Road/Jack Road and Bluff Road/Spring Street are also identified as locations where housing growth is encouraged.


The area of Cheltenham between Weatherall Road and Cheltenham railway station is zoned GRZ1 due to its proximity to the railway station, shops and services.

Generally, GRZ1 zones are areas identified for moderate residential growth via medium density development as these areas provide good access to transport and services. This zone has a mandatory 3 storey height limit and specifies the setbacks for new development from boundaries, as well as restricting coverage to no more than 50% of the site.

The site coverage, height, scale and massing of new development in GRZ1 zones must be in accordance with the recommendations of any Structure Plan, Design Framework or relevant planning provisions. Council is currently doing some work to review these and is seeking community feedback on the preferred future character of these GRZ areas. Visit Have Your Say for more details. 


The Hampton Street Structure Plan 2006 remains the relevant strategic planning document relating to the Hampton Street Major Activity Centre. It took a few years to get the structure plan changes included in the Planning Scheme, which occurred in 2013.

The Structure Plan was reviewed in 2016 to ensure that the direction provided remained relevant and overall, it was found that the directions of the Plan were effective in delivering the outcomes sought and that development was being undertaken in accordance with the Structure Plan.

Council is currently looking to refine some of the controls that apply to the residential precincts in the centre, as well as reviewing the criteria in place for varying some of the discretionary height controls in the commercial parts of the centre. To find out more about these projects, keep an eye on our social media channel and Have Your Say page.


Let’s Talk Planning is an information campaign, not a formal community consultation process.

The purpose of Let’s Talk Planning is to provide clear, factual information and an explanation of key issues relating to growth and change in Bayside. The topics and questions being submitted to us through Let’s Talk Planning are being used to inform what information we provide through the campaign. The aim is to build understanding and help our community know what to expect in their local area in the future, and the things Council is doing to plan for growth.

Over the coming months there are a range of opportunities for the community to provide their input though formal consultation process around the GRZ Character Review, Parking Strategy and the Mid Century Modern Heritage Study. Keep an eye on our social media channels and Have Your Page for more details on these opportunities to provide your feedback.

It is extremely important that the community contribute their thoughts through these processes to help shape outcomes in their local area.


Council does not have the power to stop population growth.

State Government policy (called Plan Melbourne) says that every council area, particularly inner Melbourne, must take its share. Bayside is not alone.

Plan Melbourne is the Victorian Government strategy that sets out how Melbourne will grow and change until 2050. It says there will be 3.5 million more residents, needing 1.6million additional homes between 2021 and 2050. For Bayside this means around 25,337 new residents and 12,719 additional homes (between 2016-2050).


It is unsustainable to keep expanding Melbourne’s outer-urban growth areas. If the metropolitan area continues to expand, the natural environment will be impacted, commute times to employment and services will grow longer, and socioeconomic disparities across the city will increase.

For this reason the Victorian Government’s policy Plan Melbourne mandates that every council area in Melbourne accommodate its share of growth.

This also helps address issues such as: housing affordability, having a variety of housing available to cater for different household needs and lifestyles, and the provision of housing close to jobs and services.


Apartments are one important part of the housing mix needed to:

  • Accommodate our growing population
  • Meet the changing housing needs of the population (fewer people per household); and
  • Do so in our municipality which has very little vacant land for housing in areas zoned for growth (except for the CSIRO site).

Our local planning regulations direct development of apartments to the central activity centres of our suburbs or development sites close to transport and services. This makes up only around 15% of Bayside. This has allowed us to limit development across the remainder of Bayside to minimal growth, with a mandatory two-storey height limit (this is one of the highest proportions of any Victorian metropolitan municipality).

The alternative option to meet our mandated level of growth would be to reduce the proportion of Bayside that is limited to minimal (two-storey) growth. This would allow more medium density growth across a large proportion of Bayside’s residential neighbourhoods which would be further from transport hubs and services.


All housing development must comply with building standards established by the Victorian Government. The Victorian Better Apartments Design Standards are guidelines specifying elements such as internal layout, functionality, room depth, windows, storage, energy efficiency, noise impacts and external aspects such as communal open space, landscaping, waste and recycling and accessibility.

The government has recently introduced changes to the Better Apartments Design Standards in relation to green space, external materials, wind impacts and integration with street and continues to monitor the implementation of these standards.

When assessing a planning permit application for apartments, Council has a range of controls in place but most design is determined by the Victorian Government controls.


Tree canopy covers approximately 16.07% of Bayside (as measured in 2018). This is down from 16.89% in 2014.

Development is one factor in this change, and others include impacts of a changing climate and trees reaching their natural end of life. While Council regulates the protection of trees over a specified size, some trees can be removed without a permit.

Increasing tree canopy is not something Council can do alone. To achieve this requires maintaining and protecting existing trees and planting new ones on both private and public land.

To protect and grow tree and vegetation coverage Council has:

  • Limited high-density growth to central activity areas, to help preserve more space for trees and vegetation across our neighbourhoods
  • Developed its first Draft Urban Forest Strategy with a target of 25% tree canopy coverage by 2030. This will require an increase in tree canopy cover of 1% per year over the next 9 years.
  • Significant Tree Register which require higher levels of protection
  • Local Law that requires a permit for removal of trees of a certain size on private land, and requires a replacement tree planted if removal is approved; and
  • Various provisions in the planning scheme that require permission for removal of trees and vegetation and the submissions of landscape plans for Council approval.

Council is expected to consider and adopt the draft Urban Forest Strategy at its November 2021 meeting.


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Residential Strategic Framework Plan 

Map detailing growth areas in Bayside. General Residential Zones listed below.

General Residential Zones in the following locations:

  • Church Street Activity Centre
  • Bay Street Activity Centre
  • Martin Street Activity Centre
  • Hampton Street Activity Centre
  • Sandringham Village Activity Centre
  • Pennydale Activity Centre
  • Elsternwick Housing Growth Area
  • Cheltenham Housing Growth Area

 

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