City of Melbourne's amendment 308 seeks to implement a new central city design guide

Agenda item 6.1 at the upcoming Future Melbourne committee meeting at City of Melbourne includes a meaty document that seeks to reshape the way new CBD and Southbank developments are composed, and similarly how they're presented to all of us on the footpath.

One of the main outputs in the amendment process is to include a Central Melbourne Design Guide which outlines through imagery what, in the council's view, are acceptable and avoidable built-form outcomes.

The report's opening statements characterise the amendment thus:

Amendment C270 specifies minimum setbacks from streets and laneways, building separation requirements and overshadowing and wind requirements in two types of precincts, defined as Special Character Areas and the general Development Area.

It also introduced density controls, comprising a floor area ratio threshold with public benefits.

It did not consider the interface of buildings with the street, public realm and architectural quality, which is the focus of Amendment C308

Land affected by amendment 308 - image: City of Melbourne

Amendment 308 proposes to replace the existing Design and Development Schedule 1 (DDO1) with a new schedule that would include mandatory requirements including:

  • car parking in buildings within the Hoddle Grid to be underground (in line with current practice)
  • car parking in buildings within Southbank must be sleeved with active uses and configured to be adaptable to future uses (including floor to ceiling heights)
  • less than 40 per cent of the ground floor of a building to be occupied by building services to reduce blank facades along streets
  • the existing Retail Core requirement for 80 per cent active frontages to main streets and streets is to be expanded to encompass the Specia

The new schedule to the DDO will also list outcomes that should be avoided by describing building examples which are not desirable 'as they cumulatively detract from a high-quality public realm'.

A key recommendation in the supporting synthesis report listed in the amendment documents is to create a Central Melbourne Design Guide to provide clarity for Planners, Applicants and the Community to understand the elements of the policy.  

The design guide, attached to the amendment documents, would be integrated as a reference document within the City of Melbourne's planning scheme which would repeat the wording of the proposed new Schedule 1 to the Design and Development overlay with clear graphic explanation and would use sketch and precedent images to 'clearly articulate preferred outcomes as a guide for design negotiation'.

A snapshot from the Central Melbourne Design Guide - image: City of Melbourne

At the Future Melbourne Committee meeting on the 20th of February, City of Melbourne management are seeking endorsement to then request the authorisation of the Planning Minister to prepare and exhibit Amendment 308 to the Melbourne Planning Scheme.

Click here to read the full document suite.  The Central Melbourne Design Guide starts on page 176 of 259.

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