Residential Building Heights Planning Changes

Plan Melbourne.png  

Plan Melbourne Strategy and recent changes to height limits in General Residential Zones

The State Government has recently released its PLAN MELBOURNE 2017 -2050 Strategy and at the same time amended the provisions of the state-wide residential zones. 

Council supports many aspects of the PLAN MELBOURNE strategy, and particularly the ongoing recognition of the value of the Green Wedge and the importance of protecting the character of the Peninsula’s towns and villages.  These policy directions have had strong bi-partisan support for many years.

PLAN MELBOURNE also continues to support the Mornington Peninsula Localised Planning Statement, July 2014, which reinforced the need to ensure that new development respects existing character. In most residential areas on the Peninsula, the existing character is based, at least in part, on a consistent building height of only one or two storeys, and with very few taller buildings. For many years the planning controls for the Peninsula have specified a maximum building height of two storeys, and in many areas a limit of 8 metres.

In this context, Council’s main concerns relate to significant changes to the General Residential Zone (GRZ) which now allows for the construction of buildings up to three stories or 11 metres in height across many communities on the Peninsula. This can often occur without even the need for a planning permit.

These changes to the height limits, allowed under the new GRZ provisions are considered to be at complete odds with the State’s policy direction to respect the character of the Peninsula’s residential areas. The new provisions may well result in adhoc and intrusive development that is totally out of character – and sets the scene for ongoing uncertainty and conflict.  In some areas, there are already additional Design and Development Overlays, (for example in hillside areas and some of the smaller coastal villages) which do provide an additional level of protection, but unfortunately not all areas have these controls in place at this time.

Council is currently finalising a Housing and Settlement Strategy that will further clarify the appropriate location and form of future development on the Peninsula. Once this Strategy has been exhibited, Council may seek to apply further Design and Development Overlays and/or introduce Neighbourhood Residential Zone (which continues to include a two-storey height limit) for most residential land within the municipality to ensure that the scale and height of buildings is controlled to maintain the existing valued character of each town and settlement.

Having regard to the Mornington Peninsula Localised Planning Statement and the significance our town and settlements to both our local community and the broader Victorian community, it is critical that our residential character is not devastated by the recent changes to the GRZ.

We urge the State Government to acknowledge this at the State Level policy and to introduce appropriate interim height controls for our residential neighbourhoods, at least pending the completion of the Housing and Settlement Strategy. This request is based on the following key points:

  • Protection of neighbourhood character is particularly emphasized in both State and local planning policies for the Mornington Peninsula. This change is fundamentally contrary to those policies.
  • This decision will have a potentially critical negative impact on the character of many local villages and townships across the Peninsula.
  • Local communities had no say before this decision was announced.
  • Council was not consulted in any way on this amendment.
  • It is only fair to retain the previous height limits until there has at least been proper community consultation on this key issue. 

Plan Melbourne is the Victorian Government’s vision for metropolitan Melbourne (including the Mornington Peninsula) to 2050. It is also known as the metropolitan strategy and is reviewed from time to time – the current limited review is known as PLAN MELBOURNE REFRESH. 

More details can be seen through this link: Plan Melbourne 

A summary document, Melbourne's Future, is also available and outlines the key issues, directions and solutions represented in the Strategy.



At a Planning Services Committee Meeting held on Monday 19 June, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council supported the preparation of an Interim Peninsula Wide Design and Development Overlay (DDO) to be presented to the Minister for Planning for consideration.

Recently, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council expressed concern over changes in state planning that could allow much taller buildings to be constructed in residential areas across the peninsula.

Council reacted strongly to the recent introduction of changes to the State’s General Residential Zone (GRZ) provisions which now will allow construction of buildings up to three stories and 11 metres in height.

The change to the General Residential Zone, in the absence of additional planning controls, presents a significant risk of inappropriate development on the Peninsula.

To protect our townships from inappropriate development and the negative impact of these state planning changes, this interim DDO will ensure that development is not inconsistent with the role and character of Mornington Peninsula townships.

The interim DDO will be applied to approximately 24,200 properties on the Mornington Peninsula, across the townships of Capel Sound, Rosebud, Dromana, Mount Martha, Mornington, Baxter, Somerville, Tyabb, Hastings and Bittern. 

The interim DDO will have an expiry date of two years. This will allow the Shire to work on strategies that will likely result in the application of a similar planning control for these areas on a permanent basis.