Late on the eve of the Easter long weekend, the Minister for Planning released the report into DHHS’ proposal for the renewal of the Flemington housing estate, and the approved Amendment.
It is largely disappointing news for the nearly 200 residents and groups who made submissions to DHHS’ proposal for the estate last June. The Minister has approved heights and footprints for new buildings including three buildings of 10 storeys, two 12 storey buildings, and one 20 storey building, in addition to the four existing 20 storey towers.
There are likely to be many lower scale buildings of 6-8 storeys. The limits on built form are only by way of area per level for the taller buildings (see below), setbacks from boundaries, and a 20m gap between new and existing buildings.
The footprint is the same as the DHHS proposal, with 4000 sqm of open space (up from 1000 sqm). Theoretically, the site could be covered with new built form 3-6m from the edges, and 20m from existing towers.
The Minister has also approved the differential car parking rate proposed by DHHS in basement carparks:
Despite the vigorous efforts of residents living on and around the estate, the Minister has handed developers license to change the lives of Flemington residents immeasurably.
The Premier has released a press statement pointing to the “more than 36,000 Victorians now on the Victorian Housing Register” and claiming the plans for nine separate estates will “provide more than 1,700 public housing properties”.
“The Government is spending more than $800 million on housing and homelessness initiatives.”
DHHS Deputy Secretary, Nick Foa, revealed at the recent Upper House inquiry into the social housing renewal projects, $185 million will result in just 167 additional social housing homes – with 1611 homes being rebuilt (necessary and overdue) to build 1778 new public housing properties.
He also explained the derivation of the $800 million is from land sales.
Mr Foa said “We are replacing 1661 [1611?] dwellings with $185 million worth of cash. We are leveraging that $185 million into — about $800 million to $900 million worth of balance sheet value. The Director of Housing has 66 000 properties across Victoria. The land is the most precious commodity.”
“You are looking at $800 million to $900 million required to get the 1778 houses in the same spot, and we are trying to turn $185 million, with the help of land value, which is incredibly important, into an $800 million to $900 million return for public housing.”
It’s quite a complex and convoluted planning scenario. The following explanation tries to clarify in more detail what the Minister has now approved for Flemington.
The planning proposal for the estate is in the form of an Amendment to the Moonee Valley Planning Scheme – Amendment C177. The Minister has now approved this Amendment.
The approved Amendment includes:
- the rezoning of the site to Mixed Use Zone – Schedule 3,
- a new Development Plan Overlay – Schedule 8 – DPO8 (applies to estate land)
- a Parking Overlay – Schedule 1
- and makes the Minister for Planning the responsible authority for the Estate.
DPO8 doesn’t set out exactly what will be developed on the site; it sets the limits of what can be developed on the site, and has some conditions for the development.
In order for the site to be developed, a Development Plan must now be prepared in consultation with Moonee Valley Council. The Development Plan must be consistent with the concept plan below:
The heights of the buildings in each precinct are shown below:
Additionally, the Development Plan must have the following:
- must comply with floor areas stipulated in the Schedule
- Where buildings exceed the ‘general building height’ in Precincts 1- 4, the gross floor plate (the area per level) must not exceed 1,000 square metres.
- Where buildings exceed the ‘general building height’ in Precinct 5, the gross floor plate (the area per level) must not exceed 900 square metres.
- must have setbacks – 3m from Victoria St; 4m from Debneys Park; 6m from Racecourse Rd
- must have 20m between new buildings and existing buildings
- can show community facilities at ground level and retail and commercial uses
must have “car parking spaces within basement levels or suitably concealed within or behind buildings, or behind appropriate architectural features”
need only have 2 hours of sunlight to 50% of public open space areas throughout the site, and the outdoor play area of the Hopetoun Early Years Centre
must have 4,000 square metre area as shown on the Concept Plan
must have a new “gateway” park on the northwest side of the intersection of the extension of Hill Street and Holland Court as shown on the Concept Plan
- must have pocket parks that will retain or replace existing playground area
- should retain the row of trees on Racecourse Rd
- must have new trees along Victoria St
- should have only left in and left out vehicle access at Holland Crt
- must prioritise cycling and walking access
- must have a dwelling diversity report that shows 1, 2 and 3 bedroom dwellings and affordable housing
Environmental sustainable design
- must have an ecologically sustainable development plan
Noise and wind
- must have an acoustic report and wind analysis
- must have a community engagement report that outlines the consultation that has occurred to inform the Development Plan.
Development of existing towers
Future redevelopment of any or all existing residential towers on the Estate will require a new Development Plan to be prepared and approved in accordance with this schedule.
The Amendment also includes directions to the Moonee Valley Council to do the following:
- Complete Stage 1 of the Debneys Precinct – Structure Plan, in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services and include as a Reference Document in this Scheme.
- Develop Stage 2 of the Debneys Precinct – Structure Plan, in consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services.
- Complete Stage 2 of Debneys Precinct – Structure Plan prior to the completion of the redevelopment of the Flemington Housing Estate envisaged under Stage 1 of the Structure Plan.
And if that makes sense to you, then you understand more than me! (I confess, the last three dot points make no sense to me!)
History of the Amendment
DHHS’ proposed Amendment was put out for public submissions last June – and nearly 200 submissions were received. The submissions were summarised by the blog’ here.
Key elements of the proposal caused concern to many residents and are summarised here:
- 845 new homes: 20 new social housing homes and 825 new private dwellings
- new buildings between 10 and 20 storeys
- 1300 car spaces, but only 542 for public housing residents with a higher parking allowance for private residents
- a reduction of open space from more than 16,000sqm to 1000sqm
- the Minister for Planning becoming the Responsible Authority for the estate.
Advisory Committee Hearings and Report
Nearly 200 individuals and groups made submissions to the Advisory Committee charged with assessing the proposed Amendment and making recommendations to the Minister.
The Advisory Committee Report was released on 29 March and made the following recommendations:
- the site of Debney Meadows Primary School should be rezoned for school use
- the Debneys Precinct Structure Plan should be included as a reference doc
- Stage 2 of the Deb. Precinct SP sould be completed prior to the completion of Stage 1
- DPO8 should cover the existing towers
- a play space should be included south of the school site
- basement car parking is preferable
- gross floor plate limits of 1000 sqm and 900 sqm
- heights proposed are appropriate except for precinct 2 – which should be 10 storeys
- further work is needed on the Victoria St, childcare centre and primary school interfaces
- the trees along Debneys Park southern edge should be protected
- a 20 storey ‘wall’ along Racecourse Rd should be avoided
- community facilities should be located along Racecourse Rd
- the left in/left out treatment at Holland Crt should be reviewed
- supporting the DHHS proposals re parking rates
- improving access to Flemington Bridge Station
- retention of tress is important
- a 4000 sqm centrally located park should be provided
- the community garden could be relocated to Precinct 3
The Advisory Committee also recommended that:
“Prior to the preparation of a development Plan, a resident/community Engagement Strategy must be prepared to the satisfaction of the (Minister) which establishes the mechanisms by which the residents and the community will be provided with information and opportunities for feedback during the preparation of the Development Plan. The Strategy must include a requirement that the Development Plan be made available for public inspection for 15 business days prior to its consideration by the (Minister).
This recommendation was not supported by the Minister.
Other recommendations not supported by the Minister include:
- that housing be ‘tenure blind’
- appropriate setbacks specified from the northern boundary with the school and the southern boundary with the childcare centre
- appropriate mitigation measures to minimise the adverse impacts on existing or potential future sensitive uses in proximity of the site
- there should be no net loss of usable open space.
This Amendment is one of nine approved by the Minister on 29 March:
The Liberals and Greens have previously joined forces in the Upper House to disallow a similar Amendment, and could do the same with these Amendments.
This Amendment will bring intensive new development to Flemington – for the sake of 20 new and 198 renewed social housing homes. Surely there is a way to fund the renewal of the 198 homes, and an increase in affordable housing, without developing the site with such intensity.