3228 RA was invited to meet with planning officers of the Surf Coast Shire to discuss the new Residential Zones being introduced by the State government on 1st July 2014.
As reported in the local paper and on the SCS website, the council officers recommended that council adopt a policy neutral stance that would best maintain the "status quo".
It is the position of the committee that the changeover to the new zones was the perfect opportunity for council to provide more certainty about building heights by using the NRZ - Neighbourhood Residential Zone (which prescribes building heights are restricted to 8 metres) in certain areas of the shire. The General Residential Zone does not have a specific height limit and is therefore more open to interpretation and possible action at VCAT in our opinion.
Below is our short submission -
New Residential Zones - Submission from 3228 Residents Association
The committee of the 3228 Residents Association would like to thank the Surf Coast Shire for inclusion in the discussion of the proposed incorporation of the new residential zones into the surf Coast Planning Scheme.
Members of the committee met with Brydon King and Jorgen Peters on 31st March 2014 to provide our feedback, as requested, in Brydon King’s letter dated March 6th 2014. In that letter it was stated that Council was proposing “an approach in the Surf Coast shire that will maintain the status quo on residential planning regulations as much as possible”.
We understand that council officers have been extremely busy in the last 12 months, particularly with the C66 Amendment. However, there appears to be a lot of strategic work to be done to provide a considered approach to the new zones and there doesn’t appear to be the time for this to be carried out before the Minister’s deadline. This time constraint may be the reason for the officer’s recommending the zone that maintains the “status quo”. Given that council has started this process so late in the time allocated by the Minister, we believe that it is more appropriate to start from a conservative position on zones and then if needed a change to less conservative position can be adopted later.
As stated in the meeting, we believe that the council should be adopting a more proactive approach than just maintaining the status quo which does not give the protection, especially for height limits, that the community expects and wants. Generally, the residents of Torquay and Jan Juc have been calling for greater controls for some time and this is an opportunity to address that demand.
According to the council letter of 6th March 2014, -The GRZ encourages development that respects an areas character ………………..It puts in place a preferred building height of 2-3 storeys or 9m…………………overlays will seek a preferred height of 7.5m in the coastal townships. It is these highlighted words – encourages, preferred, seek a preferred are exactly why we are concerned by a blanket use of the GRZ. The community continues to ask – how did Bunnings happen? How did the RACV building happen? How could the Liuzzi Group consider it appropriate to put forward a 5 storey proposal on the Esplanade in Torquay (C66 Panel hearing)? These sorts of developments can continue to happen if the planning controls were not strong enough or were incorrect.
Rather than maintaining the status quo, which we consider does not provide a clear direction with regard to building heights and is open to objection at VCAT, it is our position that the council should initially adopt the NRZ. It is easier to ease restrictions from a position which is more rigid in its controls (NRZ) than to try to tighten them after they have been relaxed. If we take a more 'development friendly' position in zoning(GRZ) and find that the controls are not strong enough, then any lodged application proposed before the controls are reformed would be assessed on those controls and would most likely pass.
It is for this reason that we believe not all of the residential areas of Torquay and Jan Juc (and indeed other coastal towns) should be given a 'blanket' zone of General Residential Zone (GRZ). The church estate, 'old Torquay' and most of Jan Juc should initially be given Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ) with current overlays from C66. Some areas within 400m of commercial zones (shopping areas) may be given a different zone that allows higher density. GRZ with current overlays may be appropriate for newer areas of Torquay (Torquay North).
Reading the schedules and overlays doesn’t give us any comfort that height limits will not continue to be challenged beyond those “preferred” by the Surf Coast Shire planning Scheme. For example, Schedule 4 to Clause 32.08, which refers to Jan Juc under point 3.0 “Maximum building height requirement for a dwelling or residential building” – None specified. There is no protection for height limits.
It was pointed out by council officers that the restriction of subdivision into 2 lots only under the NRZ would be too restrictive. This may be so in some parts of old Torquay but generally there are very few blocks that are large enough to allow more than a 2 lot subdivision if a minimum of 300m2 is adhered to. Already we are faced with inadequate parking requirements for unit developments that result in the excess cars being permanently parked on the street, the majority of which, in Jan Juc and other newer areas of Torquay are too narrow to allow safe passage. From observation, it also appears that in some instances the minimum is not being strictly adhered to in some areas of Jan Juc. It is also noted that this can be altered by a schedule to the zone - “allowing a maximum of two dwellings on a lot, with the ability for councils to vary this limit through a schedule to the zone (the minimum can be less or more than two dwellings).”
We believe now is the time for our council to protect the amenity of the towns throughout the shire. You can do that by not maintaining the status quo and adopting the NRZ in where it is more appropriate.
It appears from the Surf Coast Shire website that it has already been decided that council officers intend to recommend the GRZ on the basis that this would be policy neutral. It doesn’t explain why it should maintain this position. Nor does it explain why community consultation hasn’t taken place before the officers decided on this course of action or why there was one “drop in” session in Anglesea on a Wednesday evening for the whole of the shire. It may have been appropriate to be more inclusive in seeking the community’s opinions and better explain your position.
At their meeting on 27th May the SCS councilors voted to accept the officers recommendation that the whole of the shire be zoned GRZ -http://www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au/My_Council/Agendas_Minutes/Council_Agendas_Minutes Page 40.