What is the Open Space Strategy?

    Council’s new Open Space Strategy Breathing Space: The Darebin open space strategy was endorsed by Council on 2 September 2019

    The Open Space Strategy focuses on three key areas:

    1.  Meeting Community Open Space Needs

    2.  Improving Biodiversity

    3.  Creating a Green Streets Network

    The strategy aims to increase both the quality and quantity of Darebin’s open space network.

    One of the key actions of the Open Space Strategy is to increase the Open Space Levy to fund open space projects that cater for our growing population.

    What is an Open Space Levy?

    The open space levy is a mechanism in the planning scheme that allows Councils to secure funds to provide new open space or improve existing open space in response to needs created by new residents or employees. Land contributions can also be made, where appropriate.

    This is required by Clause 53.01 of the Darebin Planning Scheme and is legislated under section 18 of the Subdivision Act.

    What is the existing Open Space Levy in Darebin?

    The Darebin Planning Scheme currently collects an open space contribution rate of between 2 - 5%, starting at subdivisions creating two additional lots and increasing with each additional lot up to five, with 5% being the current maximum rate. 

    Does the Open Space Levy apply to all development?

    No. The open space levy does not apply to a typical dual occupancy development where only one additional lot is created.

    It also does not apply to land that is not subdivided, like a granny flat or studio to the rear of a property.

    A person who proposes to subdivide land to create two or more additional lots (to an existing lot) must make a financial or land contribution to the Council for public open space.

    Why do we need to increase the public open space levy rate in the municipality?

    Breathing space: The Darebin Open Space Strategy provides a comprehensive strategic basis for increasing the levy to meet the open space needs of the future population.

    The City of Darebin will experience significant population growth across the municipality and the current contribution rates are not adequate to meet the needs of the future population.

    Council engaged planning and economic consultancy firm, SGS Economics & Planning (SGS) to analyse open space contribution requirements. This demonstrates that, with no increase in contribution rates, there will be a reduction in the amount and quality of open space provision in Darebin.

    How is the Open Space Levy calculated?

    SGS calculated the open space levy required based on the following factors:

    -  Open space need per person

    -  Projected population grown

    -  Net developable land

    Using this method, it was demonstrated that an 18.2 per cent open space levy across all land uses in Darebin is required to deliver optimum standards of open space.

    However, Darebin is proposing to increase the Open Space Levy rate to 10%. This will apply to all subdivisions for residential, industrial or commercial purposes within the municipality.

    The contribution amount required by the rate is calculated based on the land valuation at the time the subdivision permit is issued for a financial contribution, or the same percentage of total land area.

    Why is a 10% rate being proposed not 18.2% which would meet the public open space needs of the municipality?

    Although a higher contribution rate is justifiable, a 10 per cent contribution rate in an established area like Darebin is unprecedented, and reflects a proactive commitment to improving open space provision across the municipality. Council also acknowledges that there are other funding sources that it can pursue to address the gap.

    Why is a flat rate across the entire municipality being proposed?

    The City of Darebin is considered a single planning unit where open space contributions can be spent anywhere within the municipality.

    All residents and workers (existing and future) are entitled to enjoy access to a reasonable standard of open space. Council should plan for the most equitable distribution of open space services across the City.

    An inclusionary requirements approach means that all development should equip itself with sufficient open space to meet its needs.

    This does not burden development in under-supplied areas with greater costs for improving open space, conversely, it does not allow development in well-supplied areas a discount for the open space impacts.

    Is future development addressing existing deficiencies in open space?

    The ‘inclusionary provisions’ frame does not burden future development with the responsibility of addressing pre-existing deficiencies in the supply of open space. It is therefore not a means of catching up on inadequate open space provision that may have happened previously. Instead, it focuses on ensuring all future development contributes to open space provision that meets a particular and designated provision rate standard.

    What will this increased levy mean for my development?

    An open space levy of 10% for all non-exempt subdivisions will mean that subdivisions that were previously required to pay an open space levy rate of 2% to 5% (depending on the number of lots created), will now be required to pay a 10% open space levy rate.

    Will the increased open space levy impact on development and housing prices in Darebin?

    No. The introduction of a higher open space contribution rate will only affect the residual land values that developers would be willing to pay to encourage incumbent land owners to sell their land. Research has shown that this will not translate into an increase in the market price of housing.

    Will this affect housing supply in Darebin?

    It is expected that the increase in open space levy may affect some infill development where there is currently a small margin between the developer’s residual land value and the capitalised income stream under existing use of the site. 

    What will the money raised from the levy be used for?

    The money will be used to upgrade existing public spaces and purchase new public open space in areas that need it most, based on the open space strategy. See Breathing Space: The Darebin Open Space Strategy for details.

    What does Amendment C186 do?

    Amendment C186 implements one of the key actions of Breathing Space: Darebin’s Open Space Strategy –byincreasing the Open Space Levy via a new schedule to clause 53.01 (Public Open Space Contribution and Subdivision) and associated changes to Council’s Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS).

    Where do the changes apply?

    The changes to the open space levy apply to all land in the municipality (except commonwealth land).

    What is the time frame for the planning scheme amendment?

    Following adoption, Council will apply to the minister for planning to authorize the amendment. This is the start of the planning scheme amendment process. Dependent on the timing of authorization, a public exhibition period is expected to occur later in 2019.

    Planning scheme amendments generally take around 18 months to 2 years for completion.