Cr Leppert writes –

A huge moment for Melbourne: Council’s SUSTAINABLE BUILDING DESIGN planning scheme amendment is now on exhibition! Council sought approval from the Minister to exhibit this amendment in September 2020, and at last, in March 2023, we have that approval.

While the State continues with its ESD Roadmap to eventually embed new sustainable building requirements in the Victoria Planning Provisions, Council knows that those one-size-fits-all controls won’t meet the challenges facing the City of Melbourne. That’s because Melbourne’s city greening, carbon emission reduction, waste reduction, transport emission reduction and water management challenges all take on particular constraints in the dense inner city. And so, to ensure that the City of Melbourne is able to contribute to Australia’s international obligations to reduce carbon emissions, and to ensure that central Melbourne is liveable for generations to come, we are pursuing special planning controls across the municipality.

The control is a new Design and Development Overlay that covers most of the municipality – an unusual approach but the only option available to Council to make sustainable building design a mandatory consideration in new development. This Overlay, DDO73, targets all new accommodation, retail, office, education, research and development, and place of assembly development that result in more than 1,000sqm additional gross floor area to that which already exists. Once that trigger is met, a series of environmentally sustainable design requirements apply:

  • Green Star Buildings and Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard standards: we are requiring this through planning approval, not leaving only to building approval, because true energy efficiency needs to be designed from the outset.
  • Energy efficiency and renewables infrastructure: NatHERS and NABERS standards will apply. New development should incorporate on-site renewable energy generation, and should not incorporate gas connections.
  • Waste and resource recovery measures: these open the door to precinct waste management plans.
  • Urban heat island response: this requires large proportions of the development’s total site area to be building and landscape elements that reduce heat. This includes green rooves, roof or facade materials that do not absorb solar heat, solar panels, shading structures, and more.
  • Urban ecology: this is the most exciting and innovative part of the proposal. Large development will need to comply with the City’s new GREEN FACTOR tool. This tool has been developed to measure the green infrastructure proposed in any new development, producing a score that considers the efforts gone to reduce heat, provide biodiversity and habitat, reduce stormwater, provide social amenity and produce food.
  • Integrated water management: this requires that new development uses alternative water sources for non-potable uses where available and technically achievable. Where there are precinct scale recycled water systems, new buildings must connect to them. If not connected to such a system, larger development should include rainwater tanks to support at least 10% of internal water demand.
There are other elements of the planning scheme amendment, like changes to the Docklands and Capital City (CBD and Southbank) zones to require new development to include provisions for bike, motorbike and car share parking, electric vehicle infrastructure, and the retention of car parking spaces as common property.
If it is approved, this will be the most significant Melbourne Planning Scheme in a generation. Public exhibition closes on 17 April 2023.

Please: check out all the details, including how the GREEN FACTOR tool works, and have your say: