Blind Faith: Council accepts verbal assurance that new planning regime will not adversely effect residential amenity

Chair of Governance and Deputy Chair of Planning, Stephen Mayne reneges on previous undertaking for the City of Melbourne to provide a comprehensive report on the impact of the State Government’s proposed new planning zones which comes into affect on July 1.

Under the proposed new planning regime all ‘Business zones” will be transferred into a new comprehensive ‘anything goes” “Commercial 1” zone which includes an “as of right use” (No planning permit required) for a tavern and gaming venue.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, Stephen Mayne and other Councillors accepted in blind faith a verbal undertaking given by the Director of Planning, Geoff Lawler, in closed session of council that existing “overlays” in Melbourne’s planning scheme would protect and prevent the establishment of taverns and gaming venues that adversely affect adjoining residential precincts. 

(Clause 22.12 of the City of Melbourne Planning Scheme outlines “Policy” in relation to Gaming venues  and Clause 22.22 which outlines “Policy” in relation to Licensed premises which both reference Business Zones which are being phased out on July 1)

Geoff Lawler in response to requests for a written report reassured the council and public gallery that “developments such as the one proposed for 157 Domain Rd South Yarra and the establishment of a restaurant/tavern last month would not proceed under the new Planning zone provisions”

Mr Lawler failed to outline exactly which overlays and in what way they would protect the residential amenity of South Yarra.

Clause 22.12 and 22.2 are policy guidelines that apply to the consideration of any new Planing permit application. Under the new Commercial 1 zone a planning permit is no longer required for a licensed Food and Beverage premises such as a Tavern, Gaming venue or Nightclub

If, as is feared, a new application is made after July 1 for a change of use and the developer seeks to exercise his new “As right of use” and reinstates a request for a tavern and it later shown that the advice given by Mr Lawler was false then we can expect calls for both Robert Doyle and Councillor Mayne, along with Geoff Lawler, having mislead the public to resign.

Prudence is the best policy not complacency

A verbal nod and a wink is not satisfactory and fails to instill confidence in the City Council administration of planning.

The onus still lies with the City Council and it’s administration to provide a written assessment outlining in detail which provisions of the Melbourne planning scheme Mr Lawler is relying on when giving his advice.

Any Councillor that is prepared to accept verbal advice should also put their job on line.

New Commercial 1 zone to replace Business 1, 2 zones


Shown on the planning scheme map as B1Z, B2Z, B5Z or C1Z.
To implement the State Planning Policy Framework and the Local Planning Policy
Framework, including the Municipal Strategic Statement and local planning policies.
To create vibrant mixed use commercial centres for retail, office, business, entertainment and community uses.
To provide for residential uses at densities complementary
to the role and scale of the commercial centre.
34.01-1 Table of uses
Section 1 – Permit not required

  • Retail premises (other than Shop)
  • Shop (other than Adult sex bookshop)

The defination of retail premises includes:

  • Food and drink premises
  • Gambling premises
  • Landscape gardening supplies
  • Manufacturing sales
  • Market
  • Motor vehicle, boat, or caravan sales
  • Postal agency
  • Primary produce
  • sales
  • Shop
  • Trade supplies

The defination of Food and drink premises includes:

Convenience restaurant

Take away food premises

Previously Business 1 zone (To be phased out on July 1) listed under


34.01-1 Section 1 – Permit not required

Food and drink premises (other than Hotel, Restaurant and Tavern)

34.01-2 Section 2 – Permit required

Retail premises (other than Betting agency, Food and drink premises, Postal agency, Shop, and Trade supplies)