Neighbourhood Character

What is neighbourhood character?

Neighbourhood character is often described as the ‘look and feel’ of a particular area, especially a residential area. It is made up of contributions from both the public and private realms that add up to create the area’s sense of place.

Other terms that are often used interchangeably with neighbourhood character include:

  • Local character
  • Urban character
  • Streetscape character
  • Local identity
  • Character
  • Landscape character

Neighbourhood character is often confused with the attractiveness of an area. It is incorrect to describe an area as having ‘little’ or ‘no’ character. All areas have a neighbourhood character no matter the perceived aesthetics of that area.

Understanding and identifying neighbourhood character

Describing the features of an area and how those features interact with one another is the best way to understand character.

Simply identifying and describing features of an area is not sufficient in identifying neighbourhood character.

Rather, the relationship between those features, how they interact and physically appear on the ground is important in establishing and defining the neighbourhood character of an area.

Neighbourhood character in the Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme

Neighbourhood character is an integral consideration for residential development and is therefore mentioned throughout various provisions of the Mornington Peninsula planning scheme.

As part of any neighbourhood character assessment the consideration of State planning policy is required and the Mornington Peninsula has been classified as a Distinctive Area at Clause 11.03-5S of the Planning Scheme. This identifies that the Mornington Peninsula is to be recognised as having significant geographic and physical features and that development should enhance the valued characteristics of the area. Additional detail about the role and character of our townships can be found within the Mornington Peninsula Localised Planning Statement.

Mornington Peninsula Localised Planning Statement,

The State planning policy at clause 16 Housing includes an objective which encourages the development of well-designed medium-density housing which respects the neighbourhood character.

The Municipal Strategic Statement (MSS) sets out the key issues, objectives and strategies relating to neighbourhood character on the Peninsula at clause 21.07-2 local area character.

The General Residential Zone, clause 32.08, sets out in its purpose to encourage development that respects the neighbourhood character.

The Design and Development Overlay, clause 43.02, one of the key tools used in shaping development within the Shire requires the consideration of whether a proposal will be in keeping with the character and appearance of adjacent buildings, the streetscape or area.

A planning permit application for a dwelling has neighbourhood character considered under ResCode, a state-wide residential control (clauses 54, 55 & 56). This requires the submission of a neighbourhood and site description and a design response describing how the proposed development or subdivision responds to the neighbourhood character. Clauses 54.02-1 and 55.02-1 neighbourhood character objective requires that design respects the existing neighbourhood character or contributes to a preferred neighbourhood character and to ensure that the design responds to the features of the site and the surrounding area.

ResCode, a state-wide residential control (clauses 54, 55 & 56), requires the submission of a neighbourhood and site description and a design response describing how a proposal responds to the neighbourhood character.

The Mornington Peninsula Planning Scheme can be found by visiting:

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning - Planning Schemes Online