What are the new residential zones?

In 2013, the Victorian Government released new residential zones to replace existing zones in the Planning Scheme. 

The three new residential zones - Residential Growth Zone (RGZ), General Residential Zone (GRZ) and Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ) – replaced the Residential 1, 2 and 3 Zones on 1 July 2014.  On that date, all Residential 1 Zone land that had not already been rezoned to one of the new zones was automatically changed to GRZ.

The implementation of the new residential zones across all municipalities in Victoria is a State Government requirement. 

Why are the changes necessary?

Draft Amendment C147 will ensure that the new residential zones are applied to Darebin in a manner that is underpinned by strategic planning policy.

Darebin, like many other local governments, is grappling with significant changes.  Directly affecting housing is the sustained population growth and the shift in demographics which is putting new and more diverse demands on housing, infrastructure and services.  Additionally, environmental pressures are calling for new approaches to manage the impact of climate change, conserve resources and ensure a sustainable and liveable community. This is placing considerable pressure on existing housing and requires careful consideration of where additional housing growth can best be accommodated to protect existing liveability, affordability, diversity of communities, equity and to achieve greater sustainability for the future.

Council has prepared the Darebin Housing Strategy (2013) at a considerable time of growth and change in Darebin.  From 2011 to 2031, it is estimated that an additional 30,300 new residents will call Darebin home.  There will also be a change in demographics during this period, with an ageing of the population, and a trend toward fewer people in each dwelling.

Draft Amendment C147 is the latest in a series of initiatives a staged delivery of the new residential zones in the City of Darebin and implementation of the Darebin Housing Strategy (2013). It follows:

  •  Amendment C144 which applies the NRZ and GRZ in areas across the municipality, and 
  • Amendments C136 and C137 which propose to apply the RGZ along the Plenty Road and St Georges Road corridors.  
These Amendments are well advanced - Amendment C144 is awaiting approval by the Minister for Planning and C136/C137 will be lodged for approval in December 2014.

The Amendment proposes to apply the RGZ to selected locations in Darebin along with other planning controls (precinct-specific Design and Development Overlays along with revisions to broader Local Planning Policy on multi-residential development) to ensure that development on land in the RGZ is well designed and makes a positive contribution in each location. 

What does the amendment do?

Draft Amendment C147 applies the Residential Growth Zone (RGZ) in accordance with the principles of the Darebin Housing Strategy to locations in Darebin where strategic justification and policy directions support more diverse housing at greater densities. It affects land around Reservoir Activity Centre, Preston Activity Centre, the Northland Urban Renewal Precinct and Station Street Fairfield south of the railway line.  

Draft Amendment C147 is part of the staged implementation of the new residential zones throughout the City.

In addition to implementing the Residential Growth Zone, draft Amendment C147 also aims to lift the bar on the standard and quality of apartment buildings being constructed in the City of Darebin. The Planning Services team has applied learning and improvements gained from recent amendments and planning permit applications to formulate a preferred style of apartment building development in locations that have been identified for higher density residential development – the ‘Garden Apartment’ (and its variation the ‘Urban Apartment’).

These models of development provide a balance between supporting a greater yield of development to achieve housing diversity with a quality of design and amenity that will retain Darebin’s reputation as the place to live. The development has a layout which achieves improved internal amenity without sacrificing development yield, lesser amenity impacts at interfaces to general residential zone sites, and provides for landscaped streetscapes with high pedestrian amenity.

The graphic below shows the full scope of Amendment C147, including the range of  planning controls  and supporting material as shown in the graphic below. See the Explanatory Report to Amendment C147 for a full technical description.



Why is Council participating in the Residential Zone Standing Advisory Committee process?

The Residential Zones Standing Advisory Committee (RZSAC) has been appointed to assist Councils in applying the new residential zones and provides a streamlined Ministerial Amendment process for implementing the new zones.  Council’s participation in the RZSAC Stage 2 follows on from its participation in Stage 1 through Amendment C144 earlier this year.

Participation in the Residential Zones Standing Advisory Committee (RZSAC) Stage 2 is an opportunity for Council to implement the next stage of residential zone translations by applying the Residential Growth Zone (RGZ) in locations where there is existing strategic basis. Referral of draft Amendment C147 to the RSZAC provides for an efficient and transparent process to implement the RGZ in accordance with the adopted Council policies. The locations proposed for rezoning have existing strategic justification for application of the RGZ through state or local planning policy and or/existing development activity, and are well suited for rezoning under the streamlined RZSAC process.

The RZSAC will advise the Minster for Planning on the suitability of Councils proposal for residential rezonings and the Minister for Planning will make the final decision on how the zones are introduced in Darebin.


What criteria were used to apply the Residential Growth Zone?

The amendment applies the RGZ in accordance with principles of the Darebin Housing Strategy 2013 (DHS) and resulting three-tiered Housing Change Framework which identifies areas for minimal, incremental and substantial housing change. The Framework broadly reflects with how the NRZ, GRZ and RGZ should be applied in Darebin.

In preparing draft Amendment C147, the Housing Change Framework was updated to include additional substantial housing change areas around the Northland Activity Centre to reflect the recent formal recognition of the La Trobe National Employment Cluster, in the Plan Melbourne metropolitan planning strategy, and status of land within the Cluster as priority locations for housing and infrastructure investment.

The Housing Change Framework identifies substantial housing change areas as places which display one of more of the following characteristics:

  • Have an evolving character where there is an eclectic mix of new and old forms of architectural style and housing typologies. This includes more recent apartment developments at higher densities and in mixed-use formats.
  • Are within or immediately adjacent to activity centres that possess superior access to the Principal Public Transport Network;
  • Are identified locations for increased residential densities to support economic investment and growth in the La Trobe National Employment Cluster;
  • Have a frontage to a strategic corridor; or
  • Are generally within 400 metres of a train station or tram route

Locations proposed for rezoning to the RGZ through Amendment C147 are identified substantial housing areas in the Housing Change Framework where residential uses and a maximum preferred building height of 4 storeys is encouraged.

How have people been notified about this amendment?

The Terms of Reference for the RZSAC outlines minimum notice requirements. This includes the following notice provisions:

  • Public Notices in the Age, Herald Sun, Northcote Leader and Preston Leader newspapers
  • Direct letters to Government Agencies and Service Authorities
  • Direct letters to known local Community Groups
  • Notices in customer service centres and libraries

In addition to this, Council has sent directly addressed notices to all owners and occupiers of properties proposed for rezoning as well as all adjoining properties. 


What development and changes will I see in my area?

Every precinct is different and the shape of development that will take place under the RGZ depends on local land and street characteristics, and policy directions set by Structure Plans or other Plans where they exist. The outcomes sought by Council aim to ensure development makes a positive contribution to each neighbourhood in accordance with local issues and aspirations:

Reservoir Precinct

  • Redevelopment of existing residential land along Broadway, Edwardes Street, Spring Street and Bedford Street at higher densities in accordance with the directions of the adopted Reservoir Structure Plan 2013. The increased density will support the Reservoir Activity Centre and bolster the case for investment in improved public transport infrastructure in the area.
  • A mandatory maximum height of 13.5 metres (4 storeys) will apply to all RGZ zoned land except for that in Bedford Street which abuts commercial properties.
  • Single dwelling lots along Broadway, Edwardes Street and Spring Street are encouraged to be consolidated for redevelopment as ‘Garden Apartment’ style residential buildings. Lots that cannot be consolidated or are constrained for four storey redevelopment can continue to redevelop into townhouses.
  • Development will be required to incorporate front garden setbacks and frontage treatments, including vehicle access arrangements, to cumulatively create a landscaped streetscape with high pedestrian amenity.
  • Development will also be subject to requirements for appropriate rear setbacks and heights, and where possible landscaping, in order to create a consistent rear interface condition which ‘steps down’ in scale and preserves the amenity of adjacent yards in the general residential zone land. 

Northland Urban Renewal Precinct Residential Neighbourhood

The precinct will accommodate a mix of corridor and neighbourhood design, with redevelopment along the Albert Street corridor between Murray Road and Plenty Road, along Wood Street and Hannah Street opposite Northland Shopping Centre and in selected parts of the broader residential precinct to the north, in accordance with the proposed Northland Residential Neighbourhood Precinct Structure Plan being exhibited with Amendment C147.

  • Along Albert Street, Garden Apartments are strongly encouraged through the consolidation and redevelopment of existing single dwelling lots directly fronting the corridor on both sides, and in adjacent blocks to the east side as shown on the Precinct Structure Plan.
  • Lots fronting Hannah Street and Wood Street will accommodate a variation of the Garden Apartment development incorporating a smaller front setback and commercial-capable ground floor is encouraged. This type of development will create a more active street frontage and position the street for future mutual activation of Shopping Centre commercial edge and create a positive relationship and transition between the edges of the commercial and residential neighbourhoods. 

Within the broader residential neighbourhood to the north, increased density opportunities are focused on properties which:

  • are located around the existing local bus route – further upgrades in service levels could be advocated through a redevelopment and density increase, and 
  • have realistic propensity for change through either consolidation of single lots or through maximization of opportunities of contiguous land in one ownership which can achieve better built outcomes and net community benefit through public realm improvements
  • An encouragement of apartment forms up to 3 storeys on land to remain in the General Residential Zone between Wood St, Albert St, Summerhill Road and the Darebin Creek parkland.
In addition, specific strategic sites have been identified which offer particular opportunities for more efficient redevelopment, high quality design and can incorporate public realm improvements including recreational space, pedestrian pathways and community facilities.
  • Finally, the Crevelli Street local centre will be enhanced through development of immediate surrounding parcels to include active frontages similar to that in Wood and Hannah Street which provides opportunities for further commercial and community space to support the growing neighbourhood.
  • Discretionary 13.5 m (4 storey) height limits will apply along Albert Street, Wood Street and Hannah Street, the Crevelli Street local centre and strategic development sites.  All other areas will be subject to a mandatory 13.5m height limit.
  • Development will be required to incorporate front garden setbacks (smaller setbacks for Wood and Hannah) and frontage treatments, including vehicle access arrangements, to cumulatively create a landscaped streetscape with high pedestrian amenity.
  • Development will also be subject to requirements for appropriate rear setbacks and heights, and where possible landscaping, in order to create a consistent rear interface condition which ‘steps down’ in scale and preserves the amenity of adjacent yards in the general residential zone land.
  • Overall, the initiatives for the Northland precinct will result in an integrated consolidated development along and close to transport routes and Northland Shopping Centre to proactively manage the increased development pressure which will occur as the area becomes recognised for its proximity to the employment hubs at La Trobe University and in the core Northland Urban Renewal Precinct.

Station Street, Fairfield

This area will continue to develop apartment building typologies of a 3-4 storey scale. Development will respond sensitively to context, which includes heritage buildings in landscaped garden settings.

  • A mandatory maximum height of 13.5 metres (4 storeys) will apply across the precinct. There has been previous urban design guideline work undertaken in 2008 which incorporated consultation with the community.  The directions, whilst not implemented formally, sought to enhance good urban design outcomes and consideration of the village scale that is highly valued.
  • Generously proportioned lots will be suitable for four storey development, and consolidation of single lots to facilitate good quality development in the Garden Apartment style is encouraged, particularly in locations unencumbered by direct interfaces to heritage buildings. Lots with direct interface to heritage buildings will need to incorporate appropriate built form response tailored to each unique context.
  • Lots that cannot be consolidated or are constrained for four storey redevelopment will still be required to incorporate key design elements to create a broad consistency of built form and streetscape.
  • All development will be required to incorporate front garden setbacks and frontage treatments, including vehicle access arrangements, which preserves the valued existing Plane tree-lined streetscape and enhances pedestrian amenity.
  • Development will also be subject to requirements for appropriate rear setbacks and heights in order to create a consistent rear interface condition which ‘steps down’ in scale and preserves the amenity of adjacent yards in the general residential zone land.
  • Overall, the initiatives for Fairfield both reflect existing built form outcomes in the street and respond to ongoing development pressure and impacts in the area, including that anticipated from the Amcor redevelopment. These planning controls will deliver on community aspirations (as documented in design guidelines first prepared in 2008) for maintaining the village scale of Station Street and ensuring that impacts on residential properties behind Station Street are minimised. New development in the RGZ will positively contribute to and support the Fairfield Neighbourhood Activity Centre and manage growth in a sensitive context.

Preston Cooma Street

  • The application of the RGZ in this precinct will achieve consistency of the zone with the directions for ‘Precinct M’ in the Preston Central Structure Plan, which encourages development at 3-4 storeys in height.
  • The ‘Garden Apartment’ is not specifically mandated in this location given many lots already accommodate multi-unit development and that guidance on remaining opportunities for infill development is already provided through the Preston Structure Plan which includes specific design guidelines for residential precincts that are earmarked for intensification.
  • The RGZ will be applied to this precinct with a discretionary 13.5m height limit and will support the development of residential buildings that are responsive to site context and provide for appropriate rear setbacks and height conditions at interfaces with adjoining general residential zoned land.


What is a Garden Apartment / Urban Apartment?

The ‘Garden Apartment’ is a style of apartment building that strikes a balance between increased scale and density of development with a quality of design and amenity that will retain Darebin’s reputation as the place to live.   Key characteristics are:

  • Building mass positioned towards the street frontage, in the front half of the site.
  • Tempered scale in the rear half of the site, with ground level side and rear setbacks that can incorporate landscaping including canopy trees.
  • Higher side boundary walls in the front part of the site with apartments facing front and back rather than to the sides. Minimal need for screening to provide privacy.
  • Generous front garden setbacks with canopy tree plantings in locations where a consistent landscaped streetscape is important.
  • A single, two-way point for vehicle access, via the site frontage or rear laneway where one exists. Car parking areas are hidden from street view.

A sub-set of the Garden Apartment Building is the Urban Apartment Building. This typology is proposed in the Northland Precinct along Wood Street and Hannah Street. It has a slightly different ground floor condition with reduced front setback to encourage non-residential uses and active frontage.

Not all sites are suitable or able to be developed in the Garden Apartment style. This includes narrow sites and single sites that cannot be consolidated.  In this case, alternative styles of development are anticipated.

The Garden (and Urban) Apartment are documented in detail in the following documents which form part of draft Amendment C147

  • Higher Density Residential Building Typologies September 2014 , and
  • Residential Built Form Guidelines 2014 


Will I be forced to move?

No, not as a result of this planning scheme amendment.  

As is the case with any property, leases and tenancy arrangements are private matters between the land owner and tenant.


Will my property be acquired?

No.  Council is not acquiring any properties as part of Amendment C147.