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Author
Rob Carletti

Date
March 2023

Planning Scheme Amendment C376

We need no reminder that climate change is the most pressing and urgent economic, ecological, political and social challenge of our time. As experts and facilitators of changes to the built environment, we have a crucial role to play in minimising its impacts for current and future generations.

City of Melbourne Planning Scheme Amendment C376 is now on exhibition and seeks to address this challenge through setting a higher bar for future built form.

The City of Melbourne has described this intergenerational challenge within their Explanatory Report, noting:

Sustainable building design requires current generations to choose how they meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to be able to do the same. The City of Melbourne owns and controls less than one third of the municipality’s land area, with the majority of the land in private ownership or other government ownership…
Private development is therefore a critical contributor to any overarching municipal goals or targets. While the City, in partnership with other public entities, can drive change on public land, the planning system remains a key tool in facilitating changed practices on private land for public benefit.

The amendment seeks to make a series of changes to the Melbourne Planning Scheme, including:

  • Providing stronger policy support within the Municipal Planning Strategy (MPS) and Planning Policy Framework (PPF) to encourage and highlight the importance of providing environmentally sustainable design that responds to the various challenges associated with climate change, including (but not limited too) increased emissions, increased risks of flooding, sea level rise and more weather variability (including heat waves).
  • Apply Design and Development Overlay – Schedule 73 (DDO73) to all land within the municipality (except for infrastructure and commonwealth land) with the express purpose being to ensure buildings are energy efficient and align with the City of Melbourne’s target of zero emissions by 2040It introduces a variety of mandatory and discretionary requirements for new buildings used for accommodation, retail, office, education, research and development centre or places of assembly (or any proposal that increases an existing building of this use by 1000sqm of additional GFA). Requirements include:
    • Mandatory 5 star and preferred minimum 6 star Green Star (or equivalent scores in BESS / NatHERS / NABHERS).
    • Mandatory requirement for 75% of a development’s site area or building area to be provided as buildings or landscape elements that reduce urban heat island impacts (such as green roofs, solar panels, non reflective roofs, shading, etc).
    • Minimum mandatory requirement that all new developments must achieve a Green Factor score of 0.55 and a desired score of 0.55 for alterations and additions above 1000sqm gross floor area. A Green Factor scorecard must be submitted as part of the landscape documentation for all relevant development applications.
    • Mandatory connection to precinct scale recycled water (if available) or installing a rainwater tank to support the green areas on site or supply a minimum of 10% of the building’s water demand.
    • Mandatory requirements for Waste Management Plans to meet the guidelines of the City of Melbourne.
    • Discretionary requirement to include renewable energy generation on site.
    • Discretionary requirement to exclude connections to gas or other non renewable energy sources.
    • Discretionary requirement to utilise passive cooling and heating techniques.
    • A range of other requirements, as well as objectives and decision guidelines are also included.
  • Amending the Capital City Zone (and associated Schedules) that apply to the Hoddle Grid, Southbank, City North, Fishermans Bend and Docklands, to:
    • Require minimum bicycle and motorcycle parking requirements (well in excess of the current requirements in Clause 52.34 and the Parking Overlays).
    • Require electric vehicle infrastructure (ranging from EV facilities to ‘EV ready’ spaces).
    • Include minimum requirements for car share spaces.
    • Retain car parking as common property (to enable future adaptation when car parking needs are reduced).
    • Alter the objectives and decision guidelines to encourage more sustainable transport and require developments demonstrate how they contribute to ensuring that 70% of trips within these areas will be by public transport, walking and cycling.
  • Inserting the Waste Management Plan guidelines as an Incorporated Document, as well as a range of background documents.

Initial Thoughts

We commend the City of Melbourne for their bold, progressive agenda on climate change. If successful in gaining final support for the changes from the Minister for Planning, this will be the first Council to have a municipality wide DDO that is solely related to environmental sustainability.

That being said, as with any change, no transition is ever easy and there are a number of challenges that may arise. Some of our initial thoughts include:

  • Excluding connections to gas and requiring renewable energy technology on all buildings makes sense and will assist in reducing reliance on fossil fuels. We expect that similar requirements will be introduced by the State Government in due course.
  • Requirements for green roofs and increased environmental ratings for new buildings will assist in providing a more environmentally sustainable city. This however, will also create additional costs, at a time where the costs of development and construction are ever increasing, which will pose a challenge for the viability for many projects or affect affordability initiatives in the short term.
  • Despite the growing desire to provide EV charging facilities within basements and multi deck car parks, our clients have faced challenges in obtaining building permission to construct these facilities (due to the challenge of locating highly flammable batteries within confined environments). The relevant fire authorities will need to find a solution that ensures these facilities are provided early on in buildings, but also ensures the safety of residents and property.
  • The additional requirements for bicycle and motorcycle parking facilities will supersede the requirements of Clause 52.34, which are insufficient to cater to the explosion in demand for alternative transport modes (particularly within the Central City).
  • The requirement for shared car parking facilities will likely pose some challenges to the marketability of dwellings and office spaces, given that ownership of car parking spaces has often been an expectation in the purchasing of an apartment or office suite. Nonetheless, this will allow better flexibility in the future of these spaces, when car parking demand in the central city inevitably declines.
  • The requirement for minimum car share numbers is also understandable, particularly given success of these schemes within inner city areas. Having said this, several of our clients have had challenges where car scheme operators do not wish to provide spaces within basement car parks, given the challenges of the public in accessing these spaces. With ground floor car parking prohibited within the City of Melbourne, we would urge council to take a more pro-active approach in converting paid on street parking to car share facilities, particularly where operators will not accept spaces within private car parks.
  • The ever growing list of application requirements will now become even larger. ESD submissions can no longer be an ‘after thought’ for your lodgement package. ESD and landscape consultants must be engaged as early as possible to provide guidance on how to meet these requirements. Likewise, a range of other documents may be required upfront for an application to assist in demonstrating how requirements are met, such as Servicing Reports and Green Travel Plans. Whilst these new considerations are beneficial, it will no doubt add cost and time to an already expensive and long planning process.
  • We are hope full that the City will also continually monitor and update these provisions as necessary, to ensure they reflect the ESD expectations of the day.

How Can Tract Assist?

If you have any questions relating to the amendment, please contact Rob Carletti should you wish to discuss further.

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