Category Archives: General Planning

SOS Editorial – Federal Election 2016.

In the current atmosphere of unprecedented political, social and environmental instability, there are some fundamental issues that SOS recommends all members should think carefully about before they vote in the current federal election.

This is a time when society is being increasingly challenged by an economy in transition and by the stress of population growth, infrastructure backlog, social fragmentation and lack of affordable housing.  Representative democracy has never suffered as much lip-service and window-dressing. The major political parties continue to avoid limiting political donations and are increasingly compromised by funding from developers in particular. Trying to meet the challenge of climate change and reduce our carbon footprint while maintaining high population growth and over-developing our green suburbs makes little sense.

These issues are not just local but global. Brexit is just the latest in a sequence of political and economic events that look set to continue and worsen. Similar predictions were made as far back as 1972 when “The Limits to Growth” was released. This set of computerised global scenarios developed at MIT in the US included a “business as usual” scenario that resulted in a global economic, population and environmental collapse by around 2040.  The model indicated that the global economic decline would start to become obvious by 2015/16.  This is the track we are still currently following.

Computer models come and go but this is one of the rare ones which has stood the test of time.  In 2014, the Melbourne University Sustainability Institute fed recent UN data into the original MIT program and demonstrated that over the last 40 years, the model’s predictions have matched real events very closely – so far.  See:
This research was also featured in the Guardian:

So there is an urgent imperative to transition from traditional economic and land use systems to a more sustainable and balanced model.  SOS addressed some of the related urban planning issues in a recent wide-ranging submission to the state government’s “Managing Residential Development” Advisory Committee.  The submission includes links to explanatory documents.  For details of the submission and its 3 appendices, see

The submission explains these key points (more references are provided in the submission itself):
* Building approvals for apartments in most Melbourne suburbs have surged ahead of projected requirements and of actual demand, an unsustainable situation
* Population growth greatly increases the requirement for more infrastructure and services:
* There is no actual housing shortage, just too many empty investor properties and under-utilised dwellings
* Housing affordability won’t be improved by building more houses, only by reducing the levers that push up prices and rents – i.e., land banking by development corporations, inequitable investor tax concessions, inadequate controls on foreign investment in Australian property, etc:
* Most people don’t want apartments but for many it’s all they can afford:
* There is a desperate need for better and more fully integrated public transport, which can be economically feasible metro-wide, even including the outer suburbs:
* Road traffic congestion is best addressed by public transport demand-side management and by building rail in parallel with arterial roads, an apparent contradiction known as the Downs-Thomson Paradox – more roads just encourages more traffic:
* Many sustainability factors are not considered in our planning system
* The need for mandatory planning controls to counteract mis-management of permit assessments and to provide more certainty and consistency
* The need for deliberative community consultation in planning policy development and council governance

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Worried about local overdevelopment in Glen Eira and Port Phillip?

STOP PRESS!   Do you have concerns about over-development such as apartments or multi-storey buildings in Glen Eira and Port Phillip, or questions about planning laws?

Join the Shadow Minister for Planning and Local Government the Hon David Davis MLC and local Caulfield Liberal MP David Southwick on Monday 27 July in Caulfield to contribute and express your concerns.

This is your chance to let the Opposition know what you think of the way the new residential zones have been implemented in Glen Eira, unleashing nearly 90 years worth of extra housing!  Yet the community was never consulted by Council on the form and location of the new zones.

Monday, 27 July 2015,  7:30pm – 9:00pm

Caulfield Park Pavilion Hall, Balaclava Rd, Caulfield North RSVP essential by 5pm Monday 27 July via phone 9527 3866 or email

SOS eUpdate, 2014 Oct 4

SOS Members Planning Update – 4 October 2014

Read on for these hot topics

(1)The latest from Save Our Suburbs: SOS Candidates’ Survey for Election 2014

(2)Reminder – RACV Board Election – Last-minute call for RACV members to vote before this Tuesday Oct, 7th

(3)Reminder – The Great Population Debate, 5.30 – 7pm, October 13, Deakin Edge, Fed.Square 

(4)Rally – The Future of Public Transport in Victoria, Thurs 16 Oct. 12:45/1 pm start, Parliament steps

(5)East-West Link Updates: From campaigner Andrew Herington

(6)High-rise apartment design standards “coming”:

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Implementation of the new Residential Zones – some observations

 On July 1, those councils still waiting for their choice of zone allocation to be approved were subjected to a “neutral conversion” – the General Residential Zone was imposed across all of their existing residential zone areas. This involved two dozen councils, including some which had applied as early as late last year for their new zoning amendments to be approved. SOS has heard that some of these 24 councils have since been experiencing a sudden surge in development applications in residential areas that may later come under the more restrictive Neighbourhood RZ once zoning amendments have been approved by the Minister. Strange that draft amendments lodged early by some councils for consideration by the Residential Zones Standing Advisory Committee still hadn’t been approved by July….. As to the content of the new zones, giving councils a bit more power to vary local controls for better neighborhood protection was appropriate but for these controls to be effective, councils should have been required to specify not only mandatory heights but minimum lot size and the maximum number of dwellings per lot. Specifying both is necessary to maintain reasonable local dwelling density and protect green open space. Some councils have specified subdivisions into multiple lots with a minimum lot size of 250-400 sqm, so an existing 1000 sqm suburban block could be subdivided into 3 or 4 lots. * For background, see: Since Rescode is a state planning provision which even VCAT agrees should not be treated as a “one size fits all” code, Rescode variations to suit different areas are appropriate and councils should have also been required to include extra locally-appropriate variations in the new zone schedules. These should also have been mandatory – instead, most councils have failed to include any extra variations but even where they have, as discretionary guidelines these just amount to more scope for argument at VCAT and provide only an illusion of protection. * For help in arguing on Rescode and neighbourhood character in your VCAT submission, see: * For an detailed expose of the implications of the New Zones, see:

Backtrack, Dec.2013 – Critique of Plan Melbourne

First Posted By SOS – Posted on 04 December 2013 – keep this in mind when we publish the latest review over the coming weeks.

Plan Melbourne, VicSmart and New Residential Zones

The focus of Plan Melbourne is to drive delivery and facilitate development in general (Direction 7.1, p.163).  Virtually every aspect of the planning regime is to be modified to facilitate the economic vision of Plan Melbourne and make it “more relevant”.  This includes the entirety of each planning scheme – the new zones, changes to existing Overlays and Particular Provisions and the state and local planning policy frameworks (SPPF and LPPF) which will soon be rolled into one PPF.

Read more…...                                                            MAKE A SUBMISSION HERE

A more detailed version of this SOS analysis of Plan Melbourne can be found here

SOS comment on draft Metro Planning Strategy

Here’s what one veteran planner recently said about the draft MPS and its “20 minute city – living locally” motherhood objective:

“The idea that a key mission of planning in a city of 4-6 million people is to promote “living locally” as the headline objective is to misunderstand what a city is about”.

We agree.  Check out our submission on the draft MPS here. Continue reading

Minister not even sure of own planning reforms

Planning Minister Guy has revealed that he or his department don't understand how some of the New Zone changes are actually going to work if they're brought into effect.

The minister has strongly attacked criticism of his recent planning Zone reforms ("Vocal minority peddling porkies on planning zones changes"), in particular by Prof. Michael Buxton, as we have mentioned before ("Planning for Disaster" – see earlier story below).

But, as professional planner Steven Rowley explained in The Age on Oct.6 ("Minister's zone chaos made manifest"), the minister seems to think that as-of-right incursions of shops and medical centres into residential areas would still need permits issued by councils and that residents could object "at that stage".

In fact, under the new zone provisions, these buildings would only need building permits which are issued by private building surveyors, not councils. Being commercial buildings instead of residential, they would not need to meet Rescode standards.  No amenity protection, no third party notice or appeal rights for residents…..

The only likely planning permit trigger would be for parking but if this is the only reason a permit is required, there would again be no notice or appeal rights for objectors.

There also appears to be nothing to prevent the owners of such a commercial building, once built, deciding that they'd prefer to transform the existing building shell into apartments.  With minor internal changes (kitchens, WCs, etc), such a non-conforming building would then have a right to be used as a residential building, even under existing planning controls.

It is significant that not only the majority of community submissions but most councils and even the Planning Institute have concerns about the strategic justification of the new reforms and the problems they're likely to cause.  Even federal Liberal Greg Hunt is worried ("Senior Lib admits Green Wedge fears")

All this just serves to illustrate that the present planning reforms are poorly thought through measures following a simplistic deregulation agenda.  Where is the pre-draft consultation with parties other than industry (behind closed doors)?  The independent expert input and peer review?  The publicly-released strategic research that should underpin any major planning reforms?  And where is the informed community consultation process?

All the new planning reforms will modify the new Metropolitan Planning Strategy, yet they all put the cart before the horse.  The small lot housing code, VicSmart, New Zones, etc have all been made public (some even gazetted) BEFORE the still-awaited release of the Metro Strategy  – in fact, the discussion paper on the MPS was only released on Friday Oct.26.

Our summary of that discussion paper and the comments of speakers at the launch will be uploaded to our website shortly.

You can view the Discussion Paper here and join the discussion through online forums, submissions and on Twitter with the username @planmelbourne and hashtag #talkmelbourne.  Feedback received from the community and industry groups are supposed to help shape the final Metropolitan Planning Strategy, which will act as a blueprint for Melbourne’s future for the next 40 years. Comments will be accepted until Friday March 1 2013.

Over the next few months a series of community and industry forums, information sessions and roundtable discussions will be held regarding the Discussion Paper.  The draft Metropolitan Planning Strategy is expected to be completed by Autumn 2013, with the final completed in Spring 2013.


PS:  For interesting and incisive comment on current planning issues, see the website of professional planner Steven Rowley –