A more sustainable and resilient city is an exciting prospect. The City of Melbourne’s Sustainable Building Design reforms (Amendment C376) plan to make future development more sustainable – buildings will perform better, emit less and make the city more liveable. But this means the planning rules are proposed to change. So, if you have a current application, a permit or some land in the municipality, you’ll need to know about it. We had Senior Associate Sarah Thomas review Amendment C376 to give you a rundown on what’s happening, how it might affect you and how you can have your say.

The big ticket changes

Previous policy strategies are being shifted to a Design and Development Overlay control (Schedule 73) to give the previous policy aspirations significantly greater teeth, including setting mandatory minimum ESD requirements that cannot be varied by Council or VCAT.

Car parking

Car parking will need to be retained in a single or consolidated title, as common property instead of separately titled – that is, unless the responsible authority agrees otherwise – to discourage private motor vehicles and consolidate parking opportunities for use by a broader range of uses.

Green Star Certification

Green Star Certification will now be a mandatory requirement, and will have new a new minimum requirement of 5 Star rating for new builds or additions of 5,000 sqm or more. A 6 Star Green Star rating is preferred, and will help with applications.

Built Environment Sustainability Scorecard (BESS)

BESS will now be a mandatory requirement, and will have new minimum requirements for new builds of 5,000 sqm or less, or additions between 1000 and 5000 sqm gross floor area.

Green Factor Tool

We’ll need to use an online tool for future proposals, which measures how effective the greening of the proposed development is. There’ll be a minimum mandatory requirement of a 0.55 score for new builds, and a desired score of 0.55 for alterations and additions above 1000 sqm gross floor area. The scorecard will be submitted as part of the application documentation.

A summary of changes to planning

Capital City Zone & Docklands Zone Amendments

Sustainable transport is a priority of the Amendment, and the purpose is to reduce car transport and encourage sustainable transport use. The new zone schedules will require bicycle, motorcycle, electric vehicle and car share parking. These zone amendments will influence the new decision guidelines. So, you’ll need to consider car parking design in accordance with these new requirements.

Design and Development Overlay – Schedule 73 (DDO73)

A DDO73 will apply to most sites in the City of Melbourne, and introduce the Green Star minimum rating. It aims for energy efficient buildings that will help Melbourne City move towards its target of net zero emissions by 2040. Green cover will improve urban cooling and biodiversity outcomes that have become all the more important due to climate change. Opportunities for precinct-scale ESD outcomes will be encouraged by the overlay, including anything that will help the City of Melbourne transition to a circular economy.

New buildings (or additions) will need to address the overarching aim of DDO73: to mitigate the impacts of climate change. There’ll be more to consider during the design and construction phases, right through to how the building will operate.

Most significantly, these mandatory minimum performance requirements will apply to new development and changes to approved development, with limited circumstances where the minimum mandatory requirements can be varied. This is a significant shift away from the current performance measures in Melbourne which are policy based – acting as guides, not mandatory minimum requirements.

New policies in the Planning Policy Framework (PPF)

Supporting the objectives of the DDO73, several new policies will appear in the PPF as part of the amendment. These are:

  • Clause 02.03-2 – Environmental and landscape values
  • Clause 02.03-4 – Built environment and heritage
  • Clause 02.03-7 – Transport
  • Clause 15.01-2L-01 – Sustainable development policy
  • Clause 19.03-3L – Stormwater management (water sensitive urban design) policy

New background and incorporated documents in the Planning Scheme

A number of background documents will be added into the Planning Scheme as part of Amendment C376. The Planning Scheme will also incorporate the Melbourne City Council Guidelines for Waste Management Plans (2021). So, you’ll have to meet the new requirements set out in these documents – and there’ll be greater risk involved for non-compliant proposals.  

Will this affect you?

Amendment C376 will only affect current and future proposals, including any changes to an existing building or permit. If your permit has already been approved, or your building has already been built, it won’t apply to you (unless you plan to make changes).

You can have your say on Amendment C376

Until Monday 17 April 2023, anyone can make a submission with their thoughts on Amendment C376. You can take a look at all the details and documentation here.

Then, the panel hearing dates are tentatively set for 2 October 2023 (Directions hearing) and 13 November 2023 (Hearing).

Need help?

We’re here to guide you through the complexities of any changes in the planning world. The above is a summary, but there are other mandatory and preferred requirements that will come into play. We can help you wrap your head around these – just drop us a line here.

Otherwise, feel free to call us on (03) 8648 3500 or email your dedicated Planner to chat about how these changes might affect you.