In a Press Release issued today, Minister for Planning Matthew
Guy MLC has announced the release of "sweeping reforms"
to Victoria's planning zones. These reforms are aimed at
boosting productivity and returning planning certainty, something
Matthew Guy claims has been "sorely missing for the past
Significant aspects of the proposed reforms include
The replacement of the five existing Business zones with two
new Commercial zones;
Rural zone reforms aimed at attracting and retaining population
in rural Victoria; and
Three new residential zones.
All Business zones will be replaced by Commercial zones.
Business 1, 2 and 5 zones will become Commercial zone 1 –
aimed at mixed use retail, commercial and higher density
residential development. Business 3 and 4 zones will be
consolidated into Commercial zone 2 – focused on
commercial and light industry uses.
The proposed reforms will open up development within commercial
zones, meaning the retail industry should see an increase in
competition. Hall & Wilcox planning partner, Natalie Bannister,
said "the reform heralds a significant shake-up in the retail
industry; the conventional retail hierarchy which safeguarded big
retailers is being sacrificed to a model that promotes competition
and diversity. We are certain to see some significant changes in
our high streets as a result."
Many of the existing barriers to new entrants of the retail
sector will be removed, with development in commercial areas
encouraged. Changes proposed include the removal of floorspace caps
on office and retail uses, and the ability to locate a greater
variety of uses in commercial zones. The new controls propose to
permit smaller supermarkets to locate in Commercial 2 zones and the
Industrial 3 zone.
The new Commercial zones are in response to recommendations from
the Productivity Commission, which emphasised the negative effect
that excessive regulation can have on business flexibility. A
broader variety of mixed uses will be permitted in commercial
areas, which will allow "increased employment density in our
suburbs", according to Mr Guy.
Farming communities will see greater flexibility for land
management by rural and regional Councils. The reforms remove the
"top down state government direction" and allow Councils
greater autonomy. While the 40 hectare minimum lot size remains,
Councils may vary it at their discretion.
Agriculture will also be promoted in Melbourne's Green Wedge
areas by removing the need for planning permits for agricultural
Those with residential properties will see three new residential
zones on offer: a 'Neighbourhood Residential Zone' (NRZ); a
'General Residential Zone' (GRZ); and a 'Residential
Growth Zone' (RGZ). Significantly, all of these zones are at
the discretion of local councils.
For developers, the NRZ will be the "strongest residential
protection zone offered in...Victoria" according to Mr Guy.
Mandatory height controls, stricter subdivision regulation and
minimum lot sizes will be imposed if your Council adopts the
Complementing the NRZ are the GRZ and RGZ, which support, rather
than restrict development of medium and higher density housing in
appropriate locations, which may result in planning permits being
more readily issued. The proposed reforms will be issued for
feedback from Monday 17 July to Friday 21 September 2011.
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