Planning Practice Note 60 Heights and Setback Controls in Activity Centres (DOC, 66.5 KB) provides guidance on the preferred approach to the application of height and setback controls for activity centres.

The Practice Note outlines that when appropriate maximum and minimum height and setback controls are identified, they should be included in the relevant planning scheme as discretionary controls with clear design objectives.

The Practice Note advises that mandatory height and setback controls (that is, controls that cannot be exceeded under any circumstance) will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

Activity centre pilot program

A pilot program is underway to examine development heights in activity centres.

A key purpose of the pilot program is to identify how planning controls can be used to provide greater clarity and certainty about development heights in activity centres. This will ensure that the community and developers have a clearer understanding of the likely form of new development in activity centres.

Discretionary height controls – sometimes described as ‘preferred’ heights – are performance based provisions that allow for flexibility and variation. This means development applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, and heights expressed in planning controls can be exceeded.

The advantage of discretionary controls is that it is a flexible approach that can be applied which allows for the individual circumstances of a site to be considered. However, disadvantages of discretionary controls can include delays to resolve planning applications, additional costs and uncertainty for the community about the height and scale of development that may ultimately occur.

The purpose of the pilot is to investigate how planning controls can be improved to better reflect strategic work undertaken by councils.

It will look at ways to strengthen height controls in activity centres, while still recognising their role as areas for medium and higher density development.

Three centres are participating in the pilot program – Moonee Ponds in Moonee Valley, Ivanhoe in Banyule and Johnston Street in the City of Yarra.

The Activity Centre Pilot Program also supports Policy 2.1.4 in Plan Melbourne 2017-2050 to “Provide certainty about the scale of growth in the suburbs”.

Consultation for Ivanhoe Building Height Controls

The Minister for Planning is undertaking consultation for proposed mandatory building height controls for the Ivanhoe Activity Centre.

More information about the proposed controls and how to make a submission