Melbourne’s boom in skyscraper construction is set to be reined in as interim new rules limit building heights and give the City’s Council greater say in large apartment complex approval decisions.
The new measures came into effect on September 5 and will be in place for a 12-month period. During this time, the State Government and the Council will work toward more permanent rules and aim to limit what was seen by some as a period of uncontrolled development which has seen a surge in the number of high-rise buildings approved for construction within the CBD and its surrounds.
Under the new rules, a mandatory ‘plot ratio’ will limit the total floor space associated with any new development to 24 times the area of the land on which they are built, meaning that buildings will only be permitted to contain 24 metres of floor space for every metre of land on which they sit.
Discretionary height limits based on OLS air space requirements which exist in parts of the CBD will also become mandatory, while more space will be required in between buildings. The Council will have a formal say in all development applications in the city – even those with floor spaces greater than 25,000 square metres in area, which are currently under the jurisdiction of the Minister.
In a statement, Planning Minister Richard Wynn said lax controls had previously allowed an environment of uncontrolled development within the City and a string of massive developments that were creating issues with light, ventilation and wind shear at the ground level. CEL’s planned 71-storey tower at 150 Queen Street was approved with a plot ratio of 65:1 (a total floorspace of 65 times the number of square metres on the ground), while Bradley Group’s 67-storey Vision Apartment Complex at 504 Elizabeth Street will rise to a height of 226 metres and have a plot ratio of 47:1
“Without planning changes, Melbourne’s CBD is at risk of darkened streets, wind tunnels and less open space,” he said.
The moves come as Melbourne undergoes a record boom in construction of new apartment towers which saw approvals granted for a whopping 34,740 new non-detached dwellings throughout the state of Victoria throughout 2014/15 (mostly in the Melbourne CBD and surrounds) – more than three times what was being approved 10 years earlier.
Many of the planned buildings are set to rise to heights which would not have been allowable under the new rules (which do not apply to current development applications).
CEL’s planned 71-storey tower at 150 Queen Street was approved with a plot ratio of 65:1 (a height of 65 times the volume of square metres on the ground), while Bradley Group’s 67-storey Vision Apartment Complex at 504 Elizabeth Street will rise to 226 metres and have a plot ratio of 47:1.
In a report released early this year, Melbourne City Council co-ordinator of city plans and policy Leanne Hodle said an absence of controls meant apartment towers were being built in central Melbourne that were four times the densities of some of the world’s most crowded cities, including New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo.
The new rules will be replaced in a year’s time by more permanent controls which will be put in place following a consultation process.
The rules will not apply to developments at Fishermans’ Bend or Docklands and will only partially apply to Southbank.