Cit of Melbourne – overshadowing and height controls

On 10 February 2015 Cnr. Cathy Oke successfully moved a motion at the City of Melbourne Future Melbourne Committee for commencement of a full review of overshadowing policy for the City.

The National Trust supports a review of the sunlight to open spaces clause of the Melbourne Planning scheme in the Capital City and Docklands zone.

In particular we think that the review should take into account three key issues:

1. Overshadowing of the Yarra River- there have been several controversial decisions in recently that have stirred up debate about the overshadowing of the south bank or the Yarra River. This should be closely considered in any review

2. The protection of Melbourne parks and gardens currently have a  lesser level of protection and the metric is for 22 September between 11-2 rather than a winter metric; protection for the heritage gardens Alexandra, Treasury, and Flagstaff should be enhanced and they should be named in scheme. There is particular concern especially for Flagstaff gardens with new developments slated for William St and King St with high potential for new developments to overshadow the gardens.

  • Planning scheme should be clearer to provide proper guidance to developers and decision makers. The permit process for overshadowing exemptions is currently too unclear and results in messy decisions. Any review should make this a priority.

The increase in development in and around the CBD of Melbourne means that open space is increasingly under threat and the planning scheme has not kept pace with the changes. The National Trust supports a review of the planning scheme and its sunlight to open spaces clauses. We recognise the importance of open and public space within Melbourne and its role in protecting the natural, cultural and landscape values that make Melbourne a liveable city. Sunlight to these areas, particularly in the winter months, is an important part of ensuring the amenity of these spaces and ensuring their ongoing use and enjoyment by the public.

The case of 555 Collins St and planning amendment C216 is of particular concern. We disagree with former Minister Matthew Guy’s decision to remove the overshadowing prohibition from 555 Collins St. such that redevelopment could overshadow the south bank of the Yarra River.  Overshadowing of the south bank was also entertained by a redevelopment proposal for 477 Collins St. in 2014.

Overshadowing was considered acceptable by council because of the public space allotment to be created by the design. While these two high profile cases are central to the future protection of one of Melbourne’s most strategic assets, the Yarra River, other public space has also been at risk. Recent designs have seen the State Library and Federation Square be put at risk of overshadowing between 11-2 on 22 June.

Overshadowing of Melbourne’s heritage gardens, which are given a lower level of protection than other public space, was highlighted recently by the development proposal at 386-412 William St. The original proposal overshadowed the Flagstaff Gardens and impacted upon the amenity of this important public space. The proposal has since been amended to take these overshadowing concerns into account but the planning scheme needs to be clearer about overshadowing in specific public gardens and to provide clearer guidance for developers and council decision makers. It is not good enough the Melbourne’s famous gardens are simply given the same level of protection as streets and walkways of the CBD. We consider gardens such as Flagstaff, Treasury and Alexandra Gardens to be worthy of more extensive overshadowing protection.

We support amending the planning scheme to promote further protection for Melbourne’s significant parks and gardens as well as establishing clear guidelines as for when a permit allowing overshadowing of public space should be granted. In particular protection should be maintained and strengthened for the Yarra River. It has never been, nor should ever be, overshadowed by inappropriate development. We support the re-introduction of mandatory height controls to provide clear guidance as to acceptable height limits with the Capital City Zone.



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