Several property owners need clarification regarding the way their property has been described in zoning documents.

One property near inner city Melbourne is zoned Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ) – the No Go zone. The wording on the Schedule to the Zone says in Bold Letters “LOW DENSITY RESIDENTIAL AREA.” Ouch!

And then if one scrolls down the document, it continues to say there is no minimum lot size and better still specifies the number of dwellings allowed as four!

The owner is obviously delighted with the news he can build four units if the land size can accommodate that number of dwellings after compliance with the other planning policies. Most people thought the NRZ meant only two units on a lot.

In another site in the middle ring suburb of Melbourne, there was disappointment for the owner. His 990 square metre land with rear lane access fronts a main road. The owner was overjoyed to hear his block was zoned Residential Growth Zone- the Go Go zone.

Unfortunately the Schedule to Zoning specified very large open spaces. It states:

A dwelling or residential building should have private open space consisting of an area of 40 square metres, with one part of the private open space at the side or rear of the dwelling or residential building within a minimum area of 35 square metres, a minimum dimension of 5 metres and convenient access from a living room. It cannot include a balcony or roof top terrace. This does not apply to apartment developments.

In a Growth Zone, that open space should also be located on an upper floor level which has reverse living. However that is not possible with the council overseeing this area, making development of say two or three storey townhouses severely constrained. The number of units possible would be low, adding more problems to our current low housing stock. The alternative is develop an apartment which might not be practical for the owner developer and which might not be what the market demands.

In the same council municipality, another property owner’s land was zoned General Residential 1 (GRZ). We all know the GRZ allows more than two dwellings on a lot and the number of townhouses one could build would be less than that allowed in a Growth Zone. However, the Schedule to the zone is identical for town houses as it is for the Growth Zone. It states:

…whichever is the lesser, but not less than 40 square metres. At least one part of the private open space should consist of secluded private open space with a minimum area of 35 square metres and a minimum dimension of 5 metres and convenient access from a living room. It cannot include a balcony or roof top terrace.

Such planning confusion is having a negative impact on housing stock and no doubt such poor planning vision is yielding lesser number of dwellings, adding costs to new dwellings and compounding the issue of housing affordability.