New Residential Zones – A Comparison of Council Implementation
It’s been an action packed few months in planning, with several Councils releasing their implementation of the new zones, and the Metropolitan Strategy released earlier this month.
Both of these initiatives will affect residential development in Victoria.
The State Government stated that the intended application of the new zones is as follows:
- RGZ in areas well serviced by public transport, in close proximity to services, amenities and employment opportunities, enabling housing growth;
- NRZ in areas with particular heritage or character value, restricting urban growth; and
- GRZ elsewhere, enabling moderate housing growth and diversity.
The City of Glen Eira was the first of Victoria's local governments to implement the new zones. Stonnington, Boroondara and Moreland have also shown their cards. Each Council in Victoria is largely responsible for the application of the zones in their region, and each has applied the zones in a different way.
Glen Eira's implementation of the new zones has placed 78% of the municipality in the NRZ zone, limiting these areas to no more than 2 dwellings on a lot, and an 8m height limit. The implementation was based on Glen Eira's change areas and diversity areas from strategic work undertaken almost a decade ago - you can see the map of the new zones in Glen Eira here.
Boroondara has based their application of the new residential zones on a Neighbourhood Character Study that has not been scrutinised at Planning Panels Victoria, nor been formally exhibited. Like Glen Eira, the overwhelming majority of residentially zoned land in Boroondara is proposed to be zoned NRZ, with a smattering of GRZ and hardly any RGZ (only one RGZ area is proposed and this is located predominantly along Riversdale Road west of Camberwell Junction). The schedule to the GRZ is proposed to be varied to include a 10.5m mandatory height limit, increased boundary setbacks and minimum private open space provisions.
Unlike Boroondara and Glen Eira, Stonnington and Moreland are taking their draft residential zones to the community for consultation.
Stonnington’s draft application of the zones includes RGZ predominantly along arterial roads that are on the Principal Public Transport Network (PPTN). The GRZ and the NRZ appear to be well balanced throughout the municipality. Most NRZ areas are also protected by heritage overlays, neighbourhood character overlays or proposed neighbourhood character overlays.
Moreland’s draft application of the zones proposes spheres of RGZ within 400m of activity centres (including potential neighbourhood activity centres) and most train stations. GRZ is generally proposed around the perimeter of these RGZs. The remaining residential hinterland, and some areas in the south of the municipality are zoned NRZ.
Both Moreland and Stonnington have applied the zones more or less as intended; with RGZ surrounding activity centres and transport corridors, NRZ in areas with character, environmental or heritage value, and GRZ elsewhere.
In contrast, both Glen Eira and Boroondara have applied the new zones conservatively, placing restrictions on development in the majority of the municipality (zoned NRZ), and providing very few opportunities for growth.
The high proportion of NRZ could limit diversity of the municipality outside of activity centres. Opportunities for low rise multi-dwelling development in residential areas that currently exist near shops and services (and in keeping with the existing character) could be lost. For instance, there are areas in Glen Eira such as along Alma Road, that have an existing character including multi-dwelling development (low rise apartment blocks), and this is the form of development that will suffer. Under the new zones, remember only two dwellings are permitted on a lot, preventing low-rise multi-dwelling development in residential areas like this. It also shows that the point of the NRZ (to protect character) is not truly being achieved, because it prohibits what exists in the character of the area it seeks to protect. Low change does not always equal detached housing.
A more balanced approach, as demonstrated by Stonnington and Moreland, better reflects the intended objectives of the new residential zones.