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. 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 building heights in activity centres, and how we can provide greater clarity and certainty about what can be expected when new development occurs 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. This can result in delays to resolve planning applications, additional costs and contributes to 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 have been selected to be part of the pilot – Moonee Ponds, Ivanhoe and Johnston Street in the City of Yarra.