Which Residential Zone Will You Be In? Game Over or Door Still Ajar?

property development melbourne - zoning reform p2(3)

We highlighted in an earlier blog about the changes to residential zoning, where the existing residential 1, 2 and 3 zones will be replaced by Neighbourhood Residential (NRZ), General Residential (GRZ) and Residential Growth (RGZ) Zones, and the potential risk to property owners whose sites were proposed to change to NRZ.

There has been some development on this topic since then, and it now seems to be a little higher on the radar in the media. Here’s one of the latest articles on the topic… The contrasting views and interpretation of what this means to residential property are quite interesting to say the least.

It’s been a little while coming, but the fact is that there have been more zone conversions recently. On 23 June 2014, the new residential zones were applied to another eight (8) Victorian Councils including Bayside, Boroondara, Casey, Manningham, Maroondah, Queenscliffe, Stonnington and Wangaratta. Some of these are conditional on resolving some finer details. Prior to this (13 June 2014), a large list of councils were converted, most with the exception of Hobsons Bay, Hume, Melbourne, Monash and Wyndham being outside Metro Melbourne. Relief for some but bad news for others it seems.

The Minister also announced that the remaining 24 Councils are set for neutral conversion to GRZ on 1 July 2014, due to ‘outstanding issues’ with the respective Councils’ proposals, and will remain as such until the issues are resolved. The subject Councils are listed by status as follows;

‘Submitted Under Consideration’ – Banyule, Knox, Maribyrnong, Nillumbik, Whitehorse, Melton and Port Phillip

‘With Council /Stage 2 of RZSAC’ – Brimbank and Yarra

‘Awaiting RZSAC report’ – Ararat, Ballarat, Cardinia, Darebin, Greater Shepparton, Kingston, Latrobe, Moonee Valley, Moorabool, Moreland, Mornington Peninsula, Southern Grampians and Whittlesea

‘Exhibited, Panel report with Council’ – Frankston & Greater Geelong.

So what does this mean for these 24 Councils? Essentially either (1) For whatever reason, their proposals have not progressed enough or (2) There is some disconnect between what is proposed and what is anticipated, so there is more work to do.

In the meantime, these Councils’ residential zoning will be converted to GRZ on a temporary basis, until such time as all issues have been resolved and agreement reached between the parties. Despite what some may assume, these temporary measures will not open more areas to property development in the interim. As confirmed by the Minister, the current detailed provisions will be carried across, so whatever provisions were in place before the conversion on 1st July 2014 will be the same in the interim.

This is good news for property owners whose property is currently proposed to fall under future NRZ provisions. It may still end up the same result as proposed at some point in the near future, but not yet. When exactly we aren’t sure, it depends on how far each Council has progressed through the process, and the magnitude of the issues. What we do know is the window of opportunity still exists for property owners in this ‘risk’ category. Until the new permanent zones are implemented, development applications are to be assessed under the current provisions.

Are Councils and Council officers busier with development applications at the moment, probably yes! But what else could be expected from the many whom have made investment decisions in Melbourne based on a property’s development potential, having done their research on what already exists in the area, to now be informed that soon they may no longer have that opportunity……….

We are currently assisting many clients wanting to get their development permit applications lodged before it’s too late, so if you think you might be in a similar situation and would like some assistance, please contact us.