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October 2018

Market 2.0: It’s More than Just a Place to Get Your Groceries

By: Amy Ikhayanti

Melburnians love a good market, and we are spoiled for choices. There are over 40 markets in Melbourne that supply fresh produce, art and craft, as well as other specialty products. Some are farmers’ and produce markets, where you can get fresh yoghurt, jams, fruits and cheese, straight from the people who grow and process them. Others, like the Rose Street Artists’ Market, provide local designers’ products, ranging from jewellery, clothes, paintings to other urban paraphernalia. However, there are more and more markets that have become truly one-stop-shopping. For example, Queen Victoria Market, the oldest surviving market and arguably the most famous, is one of Melburnians’ favourite place to get quality fresh produce with an affordable price. It is also a popular place to get a good coffee and burek, while browsing the cheese and wine section. For one that has a huge appetite, a food festival that features cuisines from different parts of the world, is frequently held in the courtyard. That doesn’t mean that the market stays quiet on the weekdays. The winter night market invites people on Wednesday to feast and escape the chilly evenings. The market has repositioned itself in the minds of Melburnians. People go to Queen Victoria Market for the experience, not only out of necessity. It has become a destination, to hang out and have a good time.  

Figure 1: Queen Victoria Market’s Winter Night Market (

The evolution of Queen Victoria Market from, well, a market to a destination is not a single, isolated case. Another renowned example is South Melbourne Market. Similar to Queen Victoria Market, South Melbourne Market has a long history serving the local community in southern suburbs since 1867. In the recent years, South Melbourne Market has undergone an image revamp from a local centre of fresh produce and other necessities, to a place for window shopping, meeting friends and having your Saturday brunch. People tend to linger for longer, spend more time and potentially, money at the market. This phenomenon illustrates the financial benefit of placemaking approach, where an existing community asset is leveraged to create an attractive public place, as well as to promote a greater community belonging and identity.

Figure 2: South Melbourne Market (

Preston Market is another market in Melbourne that is catching up on the trend. The market has recently introduced ‘cultural days’, such as Big Fat Greek Day, Macedonian Day and Italian Day, to attract more visitors. Various food and specialty stalls, along with a band that plays music from the related culture, are present to satiate one’s appetite and entertain the whole family. In 2015, PAM (Preston Art Market) Lane, an art and design precinct, was launched to welcome fashion, homewares, arts and tasty treats to Preston. The new precinct is reminiscent of SO:ME Space at South Melbourne Market, which is also dedicated to design, fashion and creative products. Following South Melbourne Market’s footsteps, Preston Market is also planning a revamp. In its first stage, it will install sustainability features, such as solar panels, on-site waste treatment and recycling improvements; new kids play areas and landscaping; expanded PAM Lane; as well as parents rooms, public walkways and a new customer service. The increased level of comfort from improved amenities and facilities, is predicted to encourage visitors to prolong their stay and to increase their shopping activities.

Figure 3: Preston Market (

Apart from the three markets mentioned above, do you know any other markets that are also transforming? Let us know in the comments section below.

market, urban design, melbourne

Incentivising Social Housing, what are Victoria’s Options?

By: Sam Palma

Within recent years, the delivery and availability of social housing within Victoria has been an increasingly popular topic amongst State Government and industry stakeholders, as the trend in Melbourne’s property market demands further investigation into options to provide affordable and social housing to the marketplace.  The delivery of such housing products continues to be an on-going joust between both private and public parties in order to obtain ‘who should be responsible for supplying these products to the market?’.  

The public sector has recently committed to the ‘Public Housing Renewal Program’ which commits to the supply of 1,800 new dwellings. The Department of Health and Human Services has revealed these dwellings will be made available for social, private and affordable housing.  

Within the private sector, a concept that has gained traction and success overseas is the ‘build-to-rent’ system, an arrangement where apartment blocks are constructed and made available exclusively to the rental market. These apartments have the ability to be transferred to (or purchased by) housing authorities and leased below market value. This particular concept is currently being explored by Melbourne and Sydney developers, however at this stage requires further clarity towards government subsidies and tax system implications in order for this model to be deliverable to the market.

From a planning perspective, progression was achieved on 1 June 2018, as the Planning and Environment Act 1987 was amended to include the following definitions/changes:

  • Adding a new objective to the Act “to facilitate the provision of affordable housing in Victoria”.
  • Providing a definition of affordable housing – “affordable housing is housing, including social housing, that is appropriate for the housing needs of very low, low, and moderate-income households”.
  • Affirming the use of section 173 for voluntary affordable housing agreements “… a Responsible Authority may enter into an agreement with an owner of land for the development or provision of land in relation to affordable housing”.

Earlier this month, the State Government released the planning framework report for Fishermans Bend, which revealed height controls, dwelling density ratios, setback controls, amenity requirements etc. Of interest, was the implementation of ‘Social Housing uplift control’, allowing a density bonus to developers in exchange for the provision and supply of social housing. In the Fisherman’s Bend context, developers can apply for an additional eight private dwellings for every one social housing unit that is provied to a registered housing associated. Density bonuses have been used as a negotiating tool by local governments in recent years due to an absence of any defining policy outlining requirements to provide social housing.

Looking at this issue from a statutory planning perspective, how can provisions of a Planning Scheme facilitate a greater supply and delivery of social housing for both private and public sectors?

A method worth exploring is the removal of third-party appeal rights and public notice for social and affordable housing projects, essentially fast tracking the planning application through Council. In my opinion, I believe the waiver of third-party appeal rights and public notice for such housing products is warranted, not only from the perspective of reducing timeframes for assessment, but limiting the consideration to that of the Planning Scheme and reducing potential holding costs associated with land. The exemption for public notice would not be a foreign element to the Planning Scheme, as a number of Overlays (such as development plan overlay) and Particular Provisions exhibit similar waivers to advertising requirements. This would incentivise the supply for both the private and public sector and could sit within the Particular Provisions of Victorian Planning Schemes.

  • Do you think the removal of third-party appeal rights and public notice for social and affordable housing projects is warranted?
  • Will this result in an increase to the supply of social housing with Victoria?

planning, social housing, urban pl, urban planning, melbourne, planning scheme, affordability

2017 PIA Symposium - Walking Tour

Mark Sheppard conducted a walking tour of Mebourne's Docklands to analyse and discuss architecture, urban design and public spaces as part of PIA's 2017 Planning Symposium.

planning, urban design, melbourne, docklands, pia, walkability, open space, interfaces

PIA Symposim - Docklands Walking Tour

DLA's Mark Sheppard conducted a walking tour of Melbourne's Docklands to analyse and discuss density and building types as part of PIA's 2018 Planning Symposium.  

planning, urban design, melbourne, density, high density, architecture

Residential Aged Care Facilities – The VPP’s steps forward in 2018

Work is currently underway to reform the classification and assessment of Residential Aged Care Facilities (“RACFS”) within the Victorian Planning Provisions. In July 2016, the Managing Residential Development Advisory Committee – Residential Zones Review identified the need for residential zones to provide greater support and flexibility with notable recommendations, in addition to high level objectives, the Committee concluded 

• The maximum building height controls in the current suite of residential zones do not support State planning policy support for facilitating RACF development.
 • RACFs should be excluded from mandatory maximum building height requirements and some ResCode requirements

Synthesis of the above-mentioned has resulted in the exhibited Clause 52.X draft Residential Aged Care Facility. The proposed provisions have recently been exhibited with key refinements including; confining ResCode tests to internal/offsite amenity impacts, and built form siting, in addition to the ability to grant a permit to vary (under Clause  2.XX-4) the requirements of Clause 52.XX-3 (or the abovementioned). Small steps but steps nevertheless. 

I applaud the Ministers intent and the Departments move to reform but as with all bystanders I have the luxury to ask, “will this go far enough”. For comparison I turn to our NSW counterparts. Specifically, the differentiation between the differing types of seniors housing provision and subsequent methods of assessment under Chapter 2 and 3 of the State Environment Planning Policy (Housing for Seniors or people with a Disability) 2004. In terms of regulatory frameworks and specificity in detailing the differences in classifying seniors living models within the planning scheme, our NSW counterparts are “miles ahead”. 

Unlike NSW, within Victoria RACF’s, Retirement Living, Independent Living Units, high, low or transitional care facilities are not clearly distinguished within the VPP’s. Whilst Clause 74 provides broad land use definitions – certainty cannot be derived from clear definition and differentiation of senior living models. It follows that I believe the existing VPP’s (and reforms) do not go far enough to reflect the transition in the seniors living or lifestyle industry that are on foot or reflect the certainty required by service providers to compete within the land acquisition market place.  

Ageing is no longer about seeing out the twilight years in medium to high care facilities. My parents are baby boomers, healthier than any other generation of a similar age before them. They are cashed up (literally or figuratively with assets) and are approaching their later years of life with zest for activity, community and family. They have done their part in paying for their kid’s education, their taxes, and have been the first generation to have dual income households. We should acknowledge a) that they (and us) are ageing with differing expectations, and b) our existing ageing in place is little more than objective within a policy statement rather than a real, deliverable target.

How is this relevant to planning? Well, it starts from the top down and is two-fold. 

RACF’s is but one form of aged care. Within the current definitions of the VPPS, RACF’s does not account for the different types of aged care, whether it be independent living, low care with in home care, or lifestyle models (which require minimal care but access to care services such as basic GP, mental health, pharmaceuticals etc etc.) 

Aside from a differentiating and defining each of the models within a planning definition to land use, incentives need to be provided to service providers to create certainty – currently the assessment of built form for RACFs falls back to ResCode, with no exemptions, and importantly, no incentives for service provision. That is, the same market forces (“magic hand”) which are pushing first home buyers to the fringe, are also intervening in the service provision for much needed facilities, i.e. redevelopment sites potentially suitable for seniors living models are losing out to the apartment development/standard residential redevelopment market. We as an industry (and indeed a society) need to decide if we are going to introduce an artificial market force via public policy intervention to redirect or incentivise a much-needed adjustment. 
Incentive must be provided to seniors living/lifestyle providers in terms of built form, and land use exemptions. On this basis, certainty is given to service providers to compete within the “standard” residential (or indeed commercial market depending on location and land use mix) market place for land acquisition. The market will adjust. 

For example, a height exemption of X storey’s above the 13.5 max under a GRZ would arm providers (and indeed developers acting for service providers) to invest in well located, well serviced inner urban or middle ring sites where yield and model can be accurately and confidently forecasted, and as such, risks in acquisition can be balanced. 

We should aim to provide our seniors living – not on the fringe away from the communities that the residents have helped build, but in and amongst their networks, communities and families. If indeed the new model for seniors living is one of inclusion by good urban design and well considered urban planning then we as an industry have the responsibility to provide a regulatory framework which provides development incentive, and importantly, confidence for service providers to purchase desirable urban sites - let them “stretch their legs” and put to market vertical seniors living models, co-locate seniors living with childcare and medical facilities, or higher education or retail land use mixes – capture the imagination and preference of a post 2000’s ageing.  

I see this as a relatively simple fix. Being 65 in 2018 is different to being 65 in 1965. Expectations, disposable income and wealth, family commitments and preference are generations apart, figuratively and literally. I say bravo to the first step of reform however recommend we look further North for a case study of “better” practice. 


  1. There is strong planning policy support at a State level to facilitate RACF development and to enable ‘ageing in place’.  A working group, with representatives from industry, peak bodies, councils and state government, has been established to provide advice in developing new RACF planning controls to ensure their timely and cost-effective delivery.
  2. Try obtaining an approval for an intergenerational home in Metropolitan Melbourne and a proposal with more than one kitchen or separate entry point is treated by planning departments as a hideout for a dictator.

planning, melbourne, housing, aged care

Does Melbourne need an Urban Planning Centre?

Earlier this year an episode of ABC 7:30 Report posed the question, “Is Australia is prepared for the predicted population growth?” which raises important considerations about ensuring that the community is informed about what ‘planning’ is occurring to prepare for the future.

A Melbourne Planning Information Centre, like the one in Shanghai, would be beneficial in keeping the community and visitors up to date and informed about the existing and future planning for Melbourne, Victoria and possibly even Australia.

I visited the purpose-built Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall during the 2017 VEPLA China Study Tour which was informative and engaging. Not only does the Exhibition Hall included a range of interactive exhibitions for all ages about Shanghai and China in relation to population, infrastructure, transportation etc from the past, to now and into the future, it also displays an impressive large 3D model of the Centre of Shanghai.

This facility is visited by locals, tourists, dignitaries and there are other cities in China and around the world that have centres like this one, such as:  

Ho Chi Minh


Recently, Melbourne had a brief ‘planning’ City DNA Exhibition during May 2018 as part of Knowledge Week. This concept could be further developed to become a permanent Melbourne/ Victorian Urban Planning exhibition. This information resource could become a place where all people can visit to understand and access planning for the future, in order to understand and be prepared for the future. It could also be a place for changemakers to table proposed changes to the urban environment.

By Susan Mitchell

melbourne, melbourne planning, planning excellence, community, compact cities

What is the future of Urban Design in Melbourne?

This week we asked the DLA team to think about what the future of Urban Design in Melbourne will look like. Here’s what they had to say!


As you can see Imaginations ran wild, but we all agreed that Melbourne will be ‘taller, more integrated and more prominent’.


Now, it’s our turn. What do you think is the future of Urban Design in Melbourne look like?

By Amy Ikhayanti

melbourne, urban design, future, town planning melbourne, compact cities

September 2018

Servicing Cabinets: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Servicing cabinets, cupboards or enclosures are a necessary requirement for buildings – where functionality is the priority in design and siting. Cabinets need direct street accessibility for emergency services & utility providers which can result in detrimental impact on streetscapes. Planners and designers are set with the task of finding the balance between functionality and form – all the while contributing to the public realm and character of the area. Clause 56.09 provides broad policy guidance, however, it is the building regulations that hold the most useful guidance for planners and designers to consider through the design process.


The policy context for servicing cabinets stems from AS2419.1-2005 ‘Fire hydrant installations’ that contains siting and design requirements that should be incorporated in the design stage. Locational criteria for a hydrant booster includes the following:

(a) They are readily accessible to firefighters.

(b) They are operable by fire brigade pumping appliances located within 8m.

(c) If within, or affixed to, the external wall of the building, the booster shall be—

(i) within sight of the main entrance to the building; and

(ii) separated from the building by a construction with a fire resistance rating of not less than FRL 90/90/90 for a distance of not less than 2 m each side of and 3 m above the upper hose connections in the booster assembly


Other design criteria include:

Cabinets, enclosures or recesses must be:

(a) of sufficient size to house all equipment;

(b) be of a design that facilitates access to and handling of equipment;

(c) have any doors fitted so that when open they do not encroach on exits or inhibit access to firefighting equipment;

(d) be used to contain firefighting pipework and equipment only; and

(e) if external, be of weatherproof design and fitted with hinges of stainless steel or copper alloy.

The MFB also has a ‘Feed Hydrant and Booster Assemblies’ guideline that sets out additional criteria including surrounding surface treatment, 2m vegetation buffers and signage requirements.

What the Australian Standard concludes is that whilst the location is to be designed for accessibility and protection of our fireys, there is flexibility for sitting, size and design and an opportunity to explore the creative use of the surrounding context and features of a building façade for cabinet integration.

Useful techniques to be considered in the planning and design process include:

Dark recessive colour options
Cabinet orientation
Fusion with landscaping
Integrating into street walls or front fences
Human scale height (as applicable)
Working with the existing context
Incorporation of art

Below are examples of how these techniques can be applied to cabinets in the planning and design process to improve the interface with the street and design integrity.



In this circumstance, the servicing cabinets account for approximately half of the front façade. The light colour draws the eye. The above signage panel that uses the same beige colour creates the illusion the cupboards are higher than human scale and therefore overwhelming the street.



This cupboard would benefit from a recessive colour palette that is distinct from the sign. The frontage would also benefit from a reduction in the expanse of the cupboard by breaking up the mass by swapping its central location with entry points, as appropriate.



This example illustrates an exposed servicing cabinet that has not been integrated into the building design. The position of this cabinet creates a barrier between the outdoor dining area of a ground floor café and the public realm, resulting in an unclear edge between the public and private realm.



Ideally, consideration early in the design process would ensure for visual integration whilst remaining functional and accessible. In this example, the cabinet would benefit from a recessive colour and adjustment in height by removing the legs to maintain consistency in height with the fence behind it. This would provide a better public and private realm relationship and improved street surveillance.



This example demonstrates servicing cabinets in a constrained space. Whilst the cabinets have been designed to integrate with the building, the cabinets draw the eye due to white trimmings and is dominant in relation to the abutting Victorian dwelling.



Subtle design changes, including removing white colour edges and introducing vertical vents to reflect neighbouring fences will reduce the impact from the street. Additional strategies such as repositioning the cabinet away from the sensitive interface would enhance the façade.


From the above, it can be concluded that whilst cabinet functionality is most important, the form can complement functionality if considered from the start of the design process. By using a set of design techniques and creative thinking, cabinets can contribute positively to streetscapes and improve pedestrian amenity.


By Jane Witham

planning, melbourne, urban design

Best Urban Garden Trends for Compact Spaces

The way we define a ‘garden’ has continued to evolve over time as we see a move away from spacious backyards to a more compact design. This forces us to find new ways to incorporate a garden setting into new dwellings such as apartments, large-scale developments and refurbishments with limitations on size & space.

However, with lifestyles continually evolving designers and policymakers are encouraging dwelling diversity and sustainable urban design. So what are some of the most popular trends we’re seeing in urban garden designs?

Vertical Gardens

Vertical gardens were a concept first implemented as an innovative response for those with limited space, providing them with an opportunity to improve their amenity and incorporate plants into their private open space (POS), balcony and terrace areas.

It is no secret that dwelling diversity, affordability and sustainable urban development (SUD) are consistent themes that permeate through the Planning Policy Framework and Local Planning Policy Framework throughout Metropolitan Planning Schemes, however we do not see the requirement to consider dwelling diversity triggered under ResCode until a proposal contemplates 10 or more dwellings (of which diversity is typically reflected in the number of bedrooms and floor area of a development/dwelling). One of the current limitations is the absence in defining/acknowledging the term ‘vertical garden’ within the Planning Scheme and acknowledging it as a form of a garden when considering an urban development proposal against the Standards and Objectives of ResCode.

Trees within a dwelling

The retention and planting of canopy trees in considering and assessing property development continues to be a common theme flooding most neighbourhood character studies throughout metropolitan Melbourne. The requirement to retain and plant canopy trees within the front and rear yard of new dwellings provide a plethora of advantages to not only the dwelling’s amenity for current and future occupants, but to the streetscape through improving a leafy backdrop and contributing to the urban fabric of an area. However, what are the limitations to having canopy trees within a dwelling?

One of the more obvious limitations involved in providing a mature canopy tree within a dwelling is the financial burden inflicted onto the developer for providing tree sensitive construction methods to retain a mature tree within the building footprint. This issue flows onto then convincing the Responsible Authority that the health and structure of the tree will not be compromised during the construction phase and requires an innovative and open-minded mentality. Although improving internal amenity through solar penetration and the visual aesthetics of such design responses clearly benefit the occupants of the dwelling, the planting of trees within buildings also runs a high risk for future generations through structural instability of the foundations of the building.

From a planning perspective and as mentioned earlier, referring such an application to Council’s arborist for comments may result in an unwillingness to support such construction methods and design responses given the potential complications in political and community barriers and absence of such methods being utilised within suburban areas. They do look good though.



Green facades

The concept of implementing green walls, roofs and facades across new and existing dwellings has been a developing trend across many buildings throughout urban cities, with studies revealing the benefits associated with green facades to include reducing urban heat island effect, insulation of buildings and reductions in the number of air pollutants.  

Within Melbourne, we have typically witnessed this trend being applied to large-scale developments including apartment buildings and podium car parking structures, with the ‘Better Apartment Design Standards’ acknowledging and encouraging such concepts. Could we see this feature fill our suburban neighbourhoods on a smaller scale through townhouse developments?

Neighbourhood character should be the starting point for any residential development within suburban Melbourne, consideration of the existing and preferred elements that make up the immediate area is a requirement of all planning schemes within Victoria and ensure new development maintains the character of the streetscape. However, with the majority of neighbourhood character studies identifying ‘brick’, ‘timber’ and/or ‘render’ as the most common materials used for development, how would the responsible authority view a ‘green wall’ on character grounds? The number of applications being appealed at VCAT on neighbourhood character grounds appears to be a common theme across many townhouse development appeals at the Tribunal. This got me thinking, would the implementation of green facades across residential townhouse developments cause detrimental effects to the neighbourhood character of an area? Should such designs be supported by Responsible Authorities given the sustainable design response?


With the above-mentioned ideas and photos typically seen in higher density (inner city) developments or single dwelling developments, are we at a stage where we should be encouraging such innovative garden areas within suburban townhouse developments?

Written by Sam Palma. 

urban design, sustainable, green building, vertical forest, garden design, melbourne, sydney

October 2017

Victoria Harbour Melbourne: Urban Design Walking Tour

Our Principal Urban Designer, Mark Sheppard, recently took PIA “Doing it Differently” symposium delegates on a walking tour of Victoria Harbour in Melbourne’s Docklands.  

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planning, urban design, victoria harbour, walking tour, pia, mark sheppard, melbourne

New Urban Design Provisions for Fishermans Bend

A draft new planning framework has been released for Fishermans Bend

This follows the introduction of interim controls in 2015 and 2016, and foreshadows new permanent controls expected to be introduced by mid 2018. The Framework outlines overarching strategies for the whole of Fishermans Bend, but its detailed proposals focus on the four Capital City Zoned precincts (excluding the Employment Precinct north of the West Gate Freeway): Montague, Lorimer, Sandridge and Wirraway.

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planning, urban design, fishermans bend, melbourne

June 2017

DLA Leading Social Housing Transformation

DLA is proud to be involved in a number of major social housing renewal projects in Melbourne and Sydney.

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planning, urban design, melbourne, sydney, social housing, master plan

May 2017

VCAT News – DLA in the Media!

DEXUS Property Group Ltd v Minister for Planning [2017] VCAT 619

DLA Associate Urban Designer Brodie Blades was recently engaged to appear as an urban design expert witness at VCAT on behalf of the Minister for Planning with respect to a planning permit application at 32-44 Flinders Street, Melbourne. 

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planning, vcat, urban design, expert witness, melbourne

February 2017

Geoffrey Falk Drawing Training at DLA

Urban design is an integral component of the work we do here at DLA, and it is important to occasionally 'brush up' on the techniques and abilities we employ in urban design - including hand drawing. We were recently lucky enough to be visited by Geoffrey Falk (a renowned local Melbourne-based architect and illustrator whose amazing Melbourne-centric urban sketches have adorned many structure plans, development proposals and visioning materials) who shared his insight on urban sketching and his particular drawing style with the team. 

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drawing, urban design, architecture, melbourne

Plantastic is Back for 2018

Are you inspired by planning and design? Are you interested in the latest trends in town planning and urban design both here and abroad? 

Here at DLA we are passionate about all things town planning, urban design and architecture and love discussing the latest trends in our monthly blog 'Plantastic and Designeriffic'. Stay up to date with the latest urban design tips, urban curiosities and interesting reads from the team by subscribing to our monthly newsletter at the link below! It's completely free, simple to unsubscribe and - best of all - always inspirational.

So what are you waiting for? Get 'designeriffic' today!

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planning, design, plantastic, designerific, melbourne, sydney

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