Managing growth

Yarra is becoming an increasingly desirable place to live. Our unique lifestyle, close proximity to the city, access to services and good public transport connections are expected to draw an extra 29,000 people to our municipality in the next 15 years.

One of the most challenging issues for us, both now and into the future, is managing growth and development.

What can we expect? 

Yarra’s growing population is expected to mostly live in apartments. Many new residents will choose apartment living because it is generally more affordable than a house. 

Where will the apartments be built?

Council has adopted a Housing Strategy to help guide the location of residential development in Yarra. The new strategy will help determine the capacity of different areas of our city to accommodate population growth.

The Housing Strategy identifies that new housing will be built on 

  • strategic redevelopment sites identified in the planning scheme
  • in activity centres
  • in neighbourhood activity centres

Where are the strategic redevelopment sites?

The Yarra Planning Scheme identifies strategic redevelopment sites.

Development on these sites will be managed via the planning permit process as development of these sites requires a planning permit from Council.

How is Council managing change in activity centres?

We are managing the growth of our activity centres by introducing built form controls into the planning scheme.

It is vital that we balance the needs of future growth while protecting the heritage streetscape. 

We are preparing Design and Development Overlays (DDO) for all our activity centres which will have clear requirements for heights and setbacks appropriate to each centre.

Which activity centres will have DDOs?

We have prepared a DDO for Johnston Street which is being considered by a planning panel in October. 

We have prepared a DDOs for permanent controls on Queens Parade which is currently on exhibition.  There are interim controls on Queens Parade.

We have prepared a DDO for Swan Street which we have asked the Minister for Planning to authorise to go on public exhibition.  We are currently awaiting the Minister's decision.

We have interim DDOs approved in Bridge Road and Victoria Street with the preparation of permanent controls to follow in 2019.

We will prepare DDOs for Brunswick Street and Smith Street later in 2019.

What about commercial development?

Council has adopted an Economic and Employment Strategy which will help guide employment and economic growth in Yarra. 

How does rewriting the local section of the Yarra Planning Scheme manage growth and change?

The planning scheme sets out how land can be used, developed and protected.  We are rewriting the local section of our planning scheme to update policies so that the planning scheme helps us better address the physical changes Yarra has undergone since the existing policy was prepared. 

We undertook a review of the planning scheme in 2013-14 to help inform the rewrite process which helped us identify which areas of local policy needed to be strengthened.

The review included external legal and planning peer reviews as well as consultation with Councillors, Council planners and urban designers, developers, community groups and identified various strengths and weaknesses of the current policy.

For example, the rewrite will enable the work on the Housing Strategy and the Spacial Economic and Employment Strategy to be incorporated into the scheme to better identify where future housing and commercial development should be located.  

The rewrite is at an advanced stage and we are currently working with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to ensure that our local policy is in the most up to date form. Amendment VC148 was gazetted on 31 July 2018 and introduced significant changes to planning schemes, especially in the way planning policy is set out in the scheme.

What input has the community had into the planning scheme rewrite?

We undertook an extensive engagement process with the Yarra community called Liveable Yarra which asked how Yarra can adapt and change to the challenges and opportunities brought about by growth and change. The feedback the community gave us has been directly fed into the scheme rewrite. 

How can I have my say?

We will be undertaking extensive community consultation on all of this work.  

Design and Development Overlays (DDOs) in activity centres

When the DDOs go on exhibition, we run a comprehensive statutory consultation programme which consists of:

  • Writing individually to affected owners and occupiers
  • Preparation of a fact sheet which is sent out with the letters
  • Running consultation sessions for people wanting to get more information, and
  • Seeking written submissions about the amendment which will be presented to a full Council meeting.

Planning Scheme rewrite

We anticipate that the next phase of community consultation on the Planning Scheme will get underway around the middle of 2019. You will be able to have your say when we ask the community about it.