Melbourne is Australia’s fastest growing city, with predictions indicating its population could soar to 7 million by 2030 and 8 million by 2050.

As a result, the well-considered use of land has never been more important. But an increasing number of developers are having their proposals knocked back for reasons that contradict the relevant councils’ own strategic planning schemes.

A good example of this involved a client who submitted a proposal for a residential development on Burke Road in Deepdene, an area that was recently rezoned from a Neighbourhood Residential Zone to a General Residential Zone.

The client’s site was set on a hill, with the proposed development designed to be partially three and partially four storeys. Unfortunately, when the proposal was submitted, the Boroondara Council objected on the grounds of its height. Council also believed it would disrupt the visual transition from one residential zone to the next.

This raised an important question of how we should grapple with the interface of two residential zones. When a multi-level development borders a Neighbourhood Residential Zone, there will always be a transition of building scale from one height to another, but how could anyone argue that the proposal should be approved?

In this case, it was argued and eventually proven, that the client’s proposal was acceptable in both its strategic and physical context because the council’s own zoning allowed increased densities in the area. It was also proven that while the proposed development had residential interfaces to the north, south and west, there was no overshadowing or disruption of views for the surrounding properties. In short, it did not affect their amenity.

There are an increasing number of developers facing similar council objections. Another recent case involved an objection to a seven-storey mixed-use building in the city of Glen Eira. The proposed site was also at the interface of another lower density residential zone. In this case, it was able to be proven that the proposal fitted within the site’s built form and planning policy. The good news for the client was that its permit was granted. As Melbourne’s population continues to grow, the development of such sites at higher density will become a strategic imperative.