23 March 2016

Greens on Council have moved to untangle the residential zones mess in the City of Melbourne.

The brazen politicisation of the process for applying residential zones in the City of Melbourne by the former Planning Minister Matthew Guy has left the City of Melbourne in a situation where the strategic justification for the distribution of Neighbourhood and General Residential Zones is absent, and nobody – from residents to developers to the Council – has been left happy.

As covered in The Age in November 2014, Matthew Guy used his last moments as Planning Minister to ignore the Council’s recommendations regarding a suitable application of the new residential zones, an application which was supported by the independent Residential Zones Standing Advisory Committee. Matthew Guy instead applied the General Residential Zone across the board north of the Yarra (in the then-Labor-held electorate of Melbourne), yet took Council’s suggested Neighbourhood Residential Zoning in South Yarra and lowered Council’s proposed mandatory height limits in those areas (in the then-Liberal-held electorate of Prahran).

That is, Matthew Guy went in two completely different directions: lifting the development potential in a seat the Liberal party did not have a fight in, and further restricting the development capacity in a seat held by the Liberal party.

Now, the new Planning Minister Richard Wynne is reviewing the Residential Zones situation across all municipalities through the Managing Residential Development Advisory Committee.

City of Melbourne officers put together a draft submission to the Managing Residential Development Advisory Committee and presented it to the 8 March Future Melbourne Committee meeting. The draft submission was a solid response to the technical reports, but did not explain how the 2014 process resulted in such a strategic mess.

Instead of adopting this submission, Greens successfully moved to direct that the submission be amended to:

  1. describe the differences between the Council-preferred application of residential zones and Matthew Guy’s version;
  2. highlight that Matthew Guy’s decision lacked any strategic justification; and
  3. request the Managing Residential Development Advisory Committee to pay particular attention to the 2014 process and provide advice on how best to move towards a new distribution of residential zones which is grounded in sound policy.

The final submission is here. New sections added as a result of the intervention by the Greens are in red.