Wednesday, October 23, 2013

ddo’s up for minister’s consideration

report from the roundtable – 22 oct

At last night’s council meeting council had to consider Planning Scheme Amendment C126, a set of Design and Development Overlays (DDOs) that introduce a set of design guidelines for new town centre development across the Yarra Ranges. I was pleased to be able to move the motion to endorse the DDOs to proceed to the Minister for Planning for approval.

As part of the public exhibition process council received 72 submissions, the majority of those from community members in the Dandenong Ranges concerned about the prospect of more convenience restaurants in the hills. McDonalds also submitted to the public exhibition process, citing concerns with the DDOs around the ‘step down’ approach to building heights, the retention of buildings that contribute to the character of the town centre, the need for verandas to be designed based on established veranda design and lastly the provision to discourage drive throughs associated with convenience restaurants.

Because there were unresolved issues as part of the public exhibition process council referred the C126 amendment to a Planning Panel. Panel members conducted the hearing over two days and heard from a number of community members as well as landowners of prominent sites in the Shire and McDonalds.

The panel has since presented its report to council and last night was the opportunity for councillors to consider the report, the panel recommendations and what should be in and out of the DDOs.

For me there were a number of key issues I thought important to highlight as part of speaking to the motion.

Drive Throughs
The panel was concerned about council’s inclusion of the guideline “buildings that include drive through sales facilities associated with a convenience restaurant are discouraged”. The panel considered that this guideline was in effect a form of control over the ‘use’ of the land which is in conflict with the underlying zone. Council did not support the panel’s recommendation in relation to this issue, given the guideline is about townships with a strong pedestrian focus, fine grain development form and disruption to retail street frontage and not land use council endorsed an amended guideline “Building and works that comprise drive through sales facilities are discouraged”.

It’s important to note that the DDOs provide a set of guidelines and are not mandatory controls therefore the language in them needs to reflect that. I know a number of community members submitted that the word prohibit should be used rather than discourage but in the context of DDOs this was not possible.

It's also important to note that this particular guideline applies to the townships of Belgrave, Kallista, Mt Dandenong, Olinda, Sassafras and Tecoma.
Building Heights
There were a lot of submissions about building heights and the panel suggested that building heights should be expressed  in the DDOs as a number of storeys with no reference to a building height in metres.  Given other Yarra Ranges DDOs express height in metres (Lilydale and Chirnside Park) council considered that we would retain reference to the building height in meters and include an additional statement to give clarity “for the purpose of this schedule ‘building height’ means the vertical distance between the highest point of the building and the natural ground level immediately below that point…”. This guideline discourages building forms on sloping sites that result in acceptable heights on only some boundaries of the site with excessive heights on the other boundaries and is an important consideration in the hills where most sites are sloped.

Environmentally Sustainable Design
The panel did not support council’s desire to include a guideline that requires a management plan showing how proposals will adopt environmentally sustainable design principles on developments of more than 1500 square meters. Council did not agree with the panel recommendation and endorsed the view that there is an imperative to build this expectation across our planning policies and the reality is that there is an increasing expectation and acceptance of the need to consider ESD principles in the assessment of major development proposals.

In speaking to the motion I talked about the role of councillors, that we don’t have to accept or agree with the panel’s recommendations. We are the democratically elected representatives, we understand the aspiration of our community at a much deeper level than the planning panel.

I talked about the development of Vision2020 by Design, the founding document of the DDOs, the enormous body of work and community consultation that had gone into the development of the DDOs and the importance to guide built form throughout Yarra Ranges.

I said the DDOs reflected the aspirations of the community and looked forward to the Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, supporting council in its aspiration for the Yarra Ranges Community. It is an opportunity for the Minister to support Yarra Ranges in what it’s trying to achieve on behalf of the community.

I’m pleased to report that the majority of councillors supported the motion.

Crs Samantha Dunn, Noel Cliff, Len Cox, Terry Avery, Andy Witlox, Maria McCarthy and Jason Callanan.
Cr Fiona McAllister

Absent from the chamber due to a Conflict of Interest
Cr Jim Child

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