Flemington Estate Renewal Amendment Approved by Minister

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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:

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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:

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:

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The heights of the buildings in each precinct are shown below:

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Additionally, the Development Plan must have the following:

Built form

  • 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

Car parking

  • must have “car parking spaces within basement levels or suitably concealed within or behind buildings, or behind appropriate architectural features”

Sunlight

  • 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

Open space

  • 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

Trees

  • should retain the row of trees on Racecourse Rd
  • must have new trees along Victoria St

Transport

  • should have only left in and left out vehicle access at Holland Crt
  • must prioritise cycling and walking access

Housing diversity

  • 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

Community engagement

  • 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.

Debneys Park

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.

What next?

This Amendment is one of nine approved by the Minister on 29 March:

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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.

7 thoughts on “Flemington Estate Renewal Amendment Approved by Minister

  1. A travesty of monumental proportions if this goes ahead. A total over development of the site that will morph into a ghetto within a decade or two. The Minister has demonstrated that he doesn’t give a rat’s arse about this area. For what? 20 new public flats!!!!

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  2. Hi Rose, thankyou for all your work on this. A couple of questions: so presumably this also can be blocked in the Upper House? The only broad distinction between this and the nine estates is that Flemington doesn’t involve the sale of land. I’m alarmed by Nick Foa’s statement as i thought the Public Housing Renewal Program overall was intended to create 1100 new public/community homes – a mere 10% increase across 9 estates at a cost of $185 million, but he’s stating 110?

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    • Yes – it can be disallowed by Upper House. I’ll have to check any differences with the other Amendments. My understanding is the intention is to sell the title to the private dwellings – and the land – in Flemington. This was put to the Advisory Committee by DHHS, but this has been an area of some obfuscation. I will try to clarify. And I also note you have $185M and I need to correct the figure in the post. Thanks.

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      • Thanks Rose, while i can’t right now find any printed info with the figure of an additional 1100 units, i’m dead certain that’s what has been quoted up until now. We discussed it at the Melb Uni forum last year, and that’s the figure the Public Housing Defence Network has used. However, the DHHS PHRP page now cites $185 million for the following: “Stage one will create at least 1,800 new homes, with a mix of social, private and affordable housing.” That’s an entirely different kettle of fish!
        http://www.housing.vic.gov.au/public-housing-renewal-program

        So Nick Foa cites $800 million to build 1600 + 110. All being public/transferred to community housing. And the above PHRP page cites 1800, including private. They are all over the shop.

        $800 million for 1600 + 110 units = a cost of $468,000 per unit, which is pretty expensive for public housing, given economies of scale, etc. The cost used to be $250 thousand per unit, 15 years ago.

        However, they were claiming to build 1100 extra at a cost to the gov of $185 million! The private developers would fund the bulk, as they get the land at favourable terms in return for building ALL of the housing. So now the gov has to front up $800 million – clarification is needed. Let’s hope the Greens can ask the hard questions.

        For the record, we also have Martin Foley saying on tape that the PHRP would yield SIX THOUSAND MORE PUBLIC HOUSING UNITS!

        So this is why i never even accepted the claim of 10% extra public housing – having been through the Brack’s gov SHIP, their first foray into social housing, whereby it was claimed community housing bodies would create 200 new homes for $95 million, it became impossible to track whether this was ever achieved. Bureaucrats are masters of obfuscation!

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  3. I’m just currently going back to the Foa transcript at the hearings and correcting that he said: “Through the $185 million, we expect to get a minimum in the first tranche of 1778 new public housing properties. This replaces 1611 aged properties that are currently there, which works out to about $100 000 per dwelling.” Which is 167 new homes. He then goes on to explain how the project leverages the $185M into $800M through land sales. You can read here: https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/SCLSI/Public_Housing_Renewal_Program/Transcripts/15022018/2.FINAL-DHHS.pdf
    It is confusing and I apologise for saying 110 not 167 (being approx. 10% of 1611) and for confusing the $185M with the $800M quoted in the premier’s release.
    It has been spun with different messaging at each stage. Thanks for helping to cut through to clarify.

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  4. Yes thanks for the clarification, Rose. I will read the transcript with interest. I have now found one source for the 10% increase in p.h, stated as 1100 units, the media release for the Parliamentary Inquiry.

    “Among the issues being considered by the Committee are:
     adequacy of a proposed 10 per cent increase in public housing (or 1,100 public units) on the sites given the size of the waiting list for public housing”
    https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/SCLSI/Public_Housing_Renewal_Program/Media/Media_Release_LSIC_2017-09-05.pdf

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