The City of Melbourne Planning Scheme is in tatters. A fire brigade without a hose or a truck

The City of Melbourne has failed its first major test before the Victorian Civil Appeals Tribunal with the advice given to Council by officers proven to be false and the Council left dumfounded and embarrassed by not paying due and proper attention to this issue well before now

Recent Ministerial changes to the State Planing Scheme made by Matthew Guy have resulted in the City of Melbourne no longer able to control development within the city boundaries instead we have a free for all where the market is allowed to rage unchecked and out of control

The decision of VCAT to grant a planning permit for the establishment of a licenced cafe and restaurant at 157-159 Domain Road, South Yarra. – PERMIT APPLICATION NO. TP-2012-388 had demonstrated that the Council Strategic Statement is worthless.
Background

Recent amendments to the Victorian Planning Scheme have resulted in licenced premises (Taverns, Pubs Restaurants and Pokie venues) which fall under the board definition of Retail Premises, no longer requiring a planning permit for use in a Commercial 1 Zone. (CZ1).  The City of Melbourne and a host of other inner city municipalities have been caught out by the changes which have a detrimental impact on inner city residential amenity.

A commercial business premises now has an “as of right’ use to establish a night club. Tavern. Bar or licenced restaurant within a CZ1 zone without a planning permit regulating its use.

The recommendation to remove licened premises from the definition of Retail premises, if adopted and implemented. would subject all licenced premises to a proper planning process and help restore public confidence.

The City of Melbourne needs to consider a Supreme Court challenge of the ruling of the Victorian Administrative Appeals Tribunal (VCAT)

The proposed development in Domian Road undermines the terms and provisions of the Melbourne Planning Scheme

Clause 21.08, “Economic Development”. states: There is a need to support the provision of local shops to serve the residential and working communities in local centres. A proliferation of eating and entertainment uses should not undermine the character and range of services offered in these local centres.

A stated objective under the Melbourne Planning Scheme is to support the Central City and local retail uses. A related strategy is: Ensure that a proliferation of eating and entertainment establishments in local centres does not undermine the viability of their convenience retailing

The South Yarra Domain Road precinct is listed as area of stability with minimal potential for new development, and notes that residential amenity to date has been maintained and the area’s historic character and features have been preserved

The Melbourne Strategic Statement aims to ensure Domain Road shopping area maintains its role for convenience shopping, neighbourhood facilities and as a neighbourhood focus

The City of Melbourne policy framework identifies the Domain Road shopping area as one of the municipality’s local centres. Policy seeks to have this centre maintain its role for convenience shopping and as a neighbourhood focus. Policy also seeks to ensure that a proliferation of eating and entertainment establishments does not undermine the viability of the centre’s convenience retailing

A significant difficulty in implementing this strategy is the fact that the use of the land for a restaurant is no longer subject to a planning permit, given the Commercial 1 zoning of the land. Under the provisions of the previously existing Business 1 zoning, there existed the ability to specify in the Schedule land upon which a restaurant use could not be established without a permit. The Council had not nominated any land within the municipality in the Schedule. With the change of zone, the ability to include this requirement has disappeared.

As no permit is required for the use, it is difficult to understand how the strategy relating to the ‘proliferation’ of eating establishments can be implemented in a land use sense. The regulatory tools necessary to give effect to the Council’s aspirations for this centre, as expressed in this specific strategy, do not form part of the suite of controls which apply in this case.

The granting of the permit pursuant to the revised planning scheme undermines public confidence in the administration and implementation of planning with-in the City of Melbourne

Changes to the Planning Scheme required to wind back the Guy amendments

The City of Melbourne need to as a matter of urgency review the current zoning of the Domain Road, South Yarra precinct with the view of having it rezoned as a “Mixed Use” Zone in which case licenced premises and restaurants and taverns can once again be subject to proper planning controls

– The Melbourne South Yarra Group has invited the Labor Candidate or the State seat of Melbourne Neil Pharaoh to address residents concerns on planning within the City of Melbourne at its Annual General Meetings scheduled for March 2014

Engineering and Planning Disaster for the Domain

The City of Melbourne Engineering Services and Planning continue to demonstrate their incometance.

VCAT had overturned the City Council refusal to grant a planning permit to 157-159 Domain Road

Domain Road retail precinct is supposed to service tegh need of the local residential community yet it is under pressure by developers who which to push out local retail and establish restaurants. night clubs and cafes.   The proposed development on Domain Road, where the former post office and news agent were located, is for three story building with cafe on the ground floor and two restaurants, one on each floor above the cafe, The proposed developed is expected to generate demand for over 160 car parking spots

Engineering Services Manager, Geoff Robinson, recommended that car parking provisions be waived for the development, A proposal that was overturned by the elected council,  There is barley a car park free in the area as it is, let alone the ability to meet demand imposed by the new development.  Surveys undertaken by residents on a Friday night showed their was 7 car parking spots available on Birwood Avenue  some 3-400 meters from the Domain site.

How Engineering Services came up with this recommendation is anyone’s guess.  The recommendation by Engineering Services to waive car parking influenced the VCAT determination.

Questions are being asked about the integrity of the City’s Engineering Services branch.

Adding to residents s the recent changes to teh Planning Scheme that re-classified the Domain Road precinct from Business one zone to Commercial one Zone.  Under the new Zone a licenced premises does not need a planning permit for its use. 

Geoff Lawler, Director of Planning was oblivious to the impact of the changes until questions were raised by residents.   It has been proven that the changes are having a negative impact as VCAT decision granting a planning was based on the new planning zone changes undermines the objectives of the Melbourne Planning Scheme.

The only saving grace is that the project as it stands is economically not viable.  The owner hoes to attract in excess of $800,000 per year in rent. Something that is highly unlikely to see a return for any investor   There are a number of conditions on the planning permit that impact on its use most notably the above ground restaurants can only sell alcohol between 5PM and 11,30PM

The maximum noise level as measured from the center of the external court and balconies can not be allowed to exceed 3Db nor will the be allowed to serve drinks on the footpath  no restaurant or cafe could remain viable under these conditions let alone command such a high rent.  The owner will without doubt be back seeking a review and remove of these constrictions. But this time they will  not be incumbered with issues of use and planning thanks to the State Governments planning scheme revisions and the failure of the City of Melbourne to object to the reclassification of this precinct to Commercial one zone.

Call for all Licensed premises and Gaming venues to be subject to a full and proper planning process

Currently under Melbourne’s Planning Scheme “Licensed premises and Gaming Venues” are included in the blanket definition of Retail Premises under the Victorian Planning Scheme.

The definition of a Retail Premise includes Food and Drink premises (Hotels Taverns, licensed resturants) and Gaming venues (Poker machines). 
In 2006 the Labor State government subjected Gaming venues to the planning process and required them to obtain a planning permit by including Gaming venues in the definition of Retail Premises.
The current a Business 1 zone require Retail Premises to obtain planning permit.

On July 1,  Business 1, 2 and 5 zones will be rolled up into a new Commercial 1 zone and Retail Premises, apart from a sex shop, become an “As of right of use” will no longer require a permit. Gaming and other licensed venues will no not be subjected to proper planning control.

Local Council’s and the community will  be denied the right to object to the use and establishment of a gaming venue and other licensed premises that come under the umbrella of the definition of Retail Premises within the new Commercial zone.

Community groups are calling for an immediate change to address this issue

Residents of Melbourne South Yarra are effected mostly by this isssue and are fighting the establishment of a licensed restaurant/tavern in Domain Rd falls is within a Business 1 zone. On July 1 this zone will become a Commercial 1 zone  and with it they will no longer have the right to object to establihsment of a tavern or gaming venue in the new zone.

The City of Melbourne Gaming overlay will not apply as Retail premises (Including Taverns and Gaming venues) will no longer  be required to obtain a planning permit as a result of the new blanket exemptions.
 
A more responsible and preferable solution to planning would be to remove Gaming venues and other licensed premises  from the blanket definition of Retail premises and establish a new category “Licensed premise” (including Gaming venues) and subject all licensed premises to a proper and full planning process