Property developers – some advice on Melbourne’s new residential zones

I recently wrote an article explaining issues surrounding the introduction of the new Residential Zones across Victoria. 

It’s been a couple of months since the zones were introduced and I thought readers would appreciate some tips on what to look out for when assessing the potential of property, whether it be to add value to an existing building or to completely redevelop a new acquisition. 

Given the mandatory nature of the planning controls and the ability for a local Council to create different height restrictions within a zone, you need to be very careful in getting all your information before proceeding.

For example, in the City of Stonnington, there are 13 schedules to the General Residential Zone, with each schedule setting different height controls, requirements for side setbacks and other parameters.

Firstly, know the planning scheme and get advice.

Never has knowing the zone, schedule requirements and policy framework been so important.Architectural-plans

Don’t assume anything.

Just because you were able to do something last year doesn’t mean that you can do it again given the radical overhaul in the residential zones.

Understand which planning controls are mandatory and which are discretionary. 

Make sure you read both the zone controls and the schedule.

The schedule will often dictate the mandatory nature of the controls, noting that variations to ResCode are discretionary.

You should also understand the nature of the controls and the schedules.

For example roofs are included in the definition of height.  This will mean that in some areas, you cannot build a two storey dual occupancy with a pitched roof.

Know that you still need to comply with ResCode…

[sam id=51 codes=’true’]

As well as with the other provisions of the planning scheme, such as policies on neighbourhood character, heritage and the like.

If you are looking for property in high value areas like Boroondara, Bayside and Glen Eira, it’s time to shift your geographic focus.

At the very least be very careful about site selection as these are areas with the great level of restriction.  That said, when you find the right site, values will rise due to limited supply.

Make sure you keep abreast of the changes as the zones will continue to change over the coming months.

In addition, the State Government is proposing to introduce a Code Assess arrangement to shorten planning permit times.

Stay tuned for more information in September.

Realistically, land within the General Residential Zone or the Residential Growth Zone will provide the greatest opportunity to add value to land.

Look for land  close to public transport and activity centres as a tip.

Be careful in heritage area in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone where even conversion of former industrial heritage buildings into apartments limits the number of dwellings to two.

Build up a relationship with a planning professional.

You can’t afford to get the site selection wrong and getting reliable advice upfront could save you tens of thousands of dollars down the track.


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Colleen Peterson


Colleen is director of Ratio Consultants and has over 20 years of experience leading planning projects for both private and public clients. In addition to her planning expertise, she has developed a specialisation in social and economic impact assessments and is a highly regarded expert in these areas. Visit

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