What is proposed?
In the Brunswick Activity Centre, it is proposed to combine planning scheme zones and built form overlays into one planning tool, the Activity Centre Zone.
What is not changing?
Elements that will not change are:
- How tall buildings should be
- How far buildings should be from property boundaries
- How much car parking buildings should have
- The opportunity for community to have a say on planning applications.
Council is considering reviewing building heights and heritage in a future project, but this is not something that is being proposed at the moment.
The state government is responsible for the planning system and state-wide content in all planning schemes. These are things that Council cannot change and are outside the scope of this project.
In 2021 and 2022 we consulted the community
We heard from our business, professional, creative, institutional, not for profit and resident community members.
In 2021 (phase one) we asked broad questions about how the area is currently used and how it could be developed in the future. A set of seven principles were developed from all the input to guide the direction and key changes for the Activity Centre Zone:
- Inclusive and diverse
- Local destination
- Meeting spaces
- Green and beautiful.
Phase two engagement in 2022 provided the opportunity to comment on the draft planning requirements, to indicate whether the community supported key changes to the plan and provide general comment. The results showed:
- Strong support for the proposed mix of uses to be encouraged and discouraged in each of the areas (core employment, mixed-use and housing)
- Strong support for the proposed commercial floor space requirement
- Strong support for the building design requirements, overshadowing requirements, pedestrian requirements and lower scale residential requirements
- Mixed views on the height suggestions for areas that do not currently have height restrictions
- Mixed views on the criteria for varying height restrictions
You can read more about the phase 1 and 2 engagement outcomes (PDF 2MB). We have used this feedback to guide the changes we’re proposing…
Key proposed changes
The Brunswick Activity Centre is particularly suited to creative, health, medical, small to medium businesses, professional services and internet-based services.
These types of businesses be encouraged in the Core Employment precinct and the Multi Use precinct.
Businesses such as trade supplies and big box retailers are more suitable in industrial areas as they attract heavy traffic.
These types of businesses be encouraged in the Core Employment precinct only.
Dark kitchens should be discouraged.
That dark kitchens would need a permit so that nearby residents would be notified and have rights of appeal to VCAT. Dark kitchens do not need a land use planning permit currently.
Thinking about what new businesses might need, consider flexible collaboration spaces and hubs for creative uses and manufacturing.
Encourage affordable creative workspace and spaces for social enterprises in the Core Employment precinct and the Multi Use precinct.
Thinking about new businesses, commercial space should not just be used for cafes. More variety needs to be considered.
New requirements which consider the lettability for a diversity of uses. These requirements include size, shape, floor to ceiling height, window sill height, transparency of glazing, individual identity, column position and accessibility.
The area should be a vibrant, creative hub that meets the needs of local residents and visitors to the area.
A commercial floor space requirement for all new developments. The requirement would provide a stronger encouragement to the market to deliver more commercial floor space as part of redevelopment.
Thinking about what new businesses might need, large concrete shells might be too expensive for tenants to fit out. These need to be designed with the needs of business in mind.
New requirements about how commercial tenancies are designed and for a partial fit out when designing commercial spaces, to make them suitable for a range of uses and fit for purpose in the Multi Use precinct.
The range of uses that are possible on old industrial sites close to housing is causing amenity concerns such as noise and smell. These sites should be for uses that are appropriate close to residential areas.
To change the planning scheme requirements for these sites to encourage commercial and residential uses. This is supported by Council’s adopted Industrial Land Strategy.
The area needs more social and affordable housing.
To require new developments to make an affordable housing contribution. This is supported by Council’s adopted Affordable Housing Action Plan.
Some businesses may be suitable in certain areas such as music venues, but there is a tension between the needs of residents and the needs of music venues.
To strengthen consideration of noise and other amenity issues between business uses and apartments, including requiring that all new apartments include acoustic treatments to keep noise from live music venues out. New live music venues will continue to be required to keep live music noise inside the venue.
There should be more sunlight at street level and more sunlight to parks.
To expand and strengthen requirements for sunlight to key streets and parks.
Need to improve sustainability of new buildings, including urban greening such as green walls or roofs.
New ESD requirements relating to:
- Sustainable transport (EV readiness and promoting walking and cycling to minimise car dependency)
- Green infrastructure (Greening to reduce urban heat)
- Climate resilience (Colours and materials to reduce urban heat)
- Waste and resource recovery (Provision for four waste streams).
These requirements are based on Council’s Zero Carbon in the planning scheme research.
There should be more consideration of the implications of development on the pedestrian and cycling network.
To elevate consideration of main pedestrian and cycling routes, including locating access to car parking and waste collection in new development away from main pedestrian and cycling routes.
Requirements for bicycle parking should be increased.
To increase the amount of bicycle parking required in new developments
Why do planning documents use terms like ‘encourage’ and ‘discourage’ instead of ‘allowed’ and ‘not allowed’ or ‘guide’ instead of ‘mandatory’?
Planning documents must follow state government drafting rules. The proposed requirements have been peer reviewed by independent Planning consultants to ensure terminology follows these drafting rules.
Height controls should be mandatory.
Mandatory height controls in activity centres are almost never supported by Department of Transport and Planning, Planning Panels, or the Minister for Planning unless there are exceptional circumstances. There have been three previous attempts to achieve mandatory height controls for the Brunswick Activity Centre that were not supported by the Minister for Planning (2011, 2015 and 2019).
The introduction of mandatory built form controls may be considered in reviewing building heights and heritage in a future project, but this is not something that is being proposed at the moment.