CONSULTATION over new residential zones to be applied in Kingston has been labelled “a debacle” with uncertainty surrounding how much of the municipality will be opened up to further residential development.
Uncertainty surrounds Kingston Council’s submission that sought to have more than 75 per cent of the region included in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone under the state government’s Plan Melbourne proposals.
Neighbourhood Residential Zones “protect and maintain liveability and neighbourhood character”, according to the state government.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy issued a statement last week to confirm 39 of Victoria’s municipalities would have “clearer residential zones” implemented with a further eight – including Bayside, Boroondara and Casey – to follow shortly.
Kingston was included in a list of 24 “remaining councils” to “undergo a neutral conversion on 1 July”.
Cr Rosemary West said Kingston had “been thrown to the development wolves” by Mr Guy. She noted Kingston had its hearing at the government’s Residential Zones Standing Advisory Committee at “about the same time in May” as Boroondara Council, yet Kingston had heard nothing since.
Cr West branded the consultation process, begun in June last year, “a debacle”.
“So much for Minister Guy’s earlier promises about protecting the suburbs and protecting the backyards,” Cr West said.
“He has kept his promises to some councils, including Boroondara, Bayside and Glen Eira, but presumably Cheltenham, Mentone, Mordialloc and the other Kingston suburbs do not count with this government.”
Mr Guy agreed Booroondara, Bayside and Glen Eira could have 77 per cent, 83 per cent and 93 per cent of their regions included in the NRZ, whereby no more than two dwellings can be built on one lot unless otherwise agreed by council.
Cr West said she believed the state government had earmarked Kingston as an area of high population growth, while other suburbs had been protected from overdevelopment.
Kingston Council CEO John Nevins confirmed Kingston’s “new zones” had not yet been formally agreed by the minister, and Kingston was one of the 24 councils listed to “undergo a ‘neutral conversion’ with any outstanding issues considered by the RZSAC to be put in place promptly.”
“Kingston has sought clarification on what this announcement means,” Mr Nevins said.
“Council’s submission to RZSAC demonstrates a considered approach to the challenge of accommodating Melbourne’s population growth.
“Kingston believes it has struck a very clear and important middle ground to provide an efficient and effective local planning system that accommodates for growth without compromising existing development entitlements and residential amenity.”
Council officers had advised the state government’s RZSAC panel that Kingston was tracking 1500 dwellings ahead of Victoria In Future development forecasts, according to Cr West.
The state government’s Plan Melbourne proposal has forecast Kingston’s population will rise to 180,100 in 2031 compared to 148,300 in 2011 and this would mean homes were needed for the projected 21 per cent population surge.
At this week’s council meeting several residential planning applications were rejected by councillors.
Cr West said these proposals would not have been allowed under the proposed Plan Melbourne residential zones, highlighting how vulnerable Kingston was to “inappropriate development” before Mr Guy gave council’s submission approval.
In January this year, a spokesperson for Mr Guy told The News Kingston Council had been asked to prepare a direct translation of current local planning policy to the new zone structure, “not a wish list” (‘No go for home zone plan’, The News, 15/1/14).
“There is no arbitrary zone per cent that the state government is seeking; what we are seeking is a direct translation of council’s existing planning policy,” the spokesperson said.
These comments seemed to foreshadow the planning minister’s decision for Kingston to undergo a neutral translation.