Acting to protect garden city character of Monash

Published on 01 March 2017

Aerial photo

After nearly two years of community consultation and research, Council has adopted stronger development standards and new residential zones, aimed at protecting Monash’s ‘garden city’ character.

Mayor Rebecca Paterson said the standards and zones (set out in Amendment C125 to the Monash Planning Scheme) were approved by Council at its meeting last night and would now be sent to the Planning Minister for approval.

While awaiting the Minister’s approval, Council is able to start applying the new standards and zones as they are considered to have ‘serious weight’ given they have been approved by Council. Applicants for new developments will be advised to start designing to the new standards and zones immediately. With applications that have already been lodged, the new standards and zones will start being considered as part of the assessment process after 31 March 2017.

Cr Paterson thanked the community for their strong involvement in developing the final amendment, which had been through several changes in response to community feedback and recommendations from an independent planning panel.

“By introducing these stronger development standards, Council is protecting the liveability of Monash for many years to come,” Cr Paterson said. “We are acting to protect what has made Monash such a sought-after place to live in in the first place.

“I have spoken to countless residents over the past few years who will be both delighted and relieved to see more protections introduced in local neighbourhoods. While not everyone will be happy with Council’s decision, we have acted in the long-term interests of the wider community.”

Cr Paterson said some of the new measures included:

  • a 5m setback at the rear of properties (in the General Residential zone and in the Neighbourhood Residential zones along the Dandenong  Valley Escarpment and in the Damper, Scotchmans and Gardiners creek areas). This will provide space between back fences and houses for trees and gardens. The rear setback is 7m for properties that abut Damper, Scotchmans and Gardiners creeks.

While the original proposal for a 5m rear setback was withdrawn by Council last year, it has been reinstated on the advice of an independent planning panel. The panel believed a 5m setback would be effective in protecting Monash’s ‘garden city’ character. In return, Council has decided not to proceed with a proposal to increase the minimum size of secluded private open space on properties (as the panel believed the landscaping outcome sought is better achieved through a 5m rear setback).

The rear setbacks will apply to new single dwellings and multi-unit developments. This will reduce the impact that large homes have on neighbours, by providing separation between properties:

  • reducing the maximum amount of coverage that buildings can have on a site from 60% to 50% in General Residential zones and in the Neighbourhood Residential zone along the Dandenong Valley Escarpment, and to 40-45% in areas near the Damper, Scotchmans and Gardiners creeks
  • rezoning areas near the Damper, Scotchmans and Gardiners creeks and along the Dandenong Valley Escarpment to Neighbourhood Residential zones where development is limited to no more than two dwellings per site
  • rezoning parts of Clayton (in the Monash National Employment Cluster) to facilitate apartment-style development by using a mix of the Residential Growth and General Residential zones

Cr Paterson said while standards such as the 5m rear setback would be expected to be achieved in most cases, they would not be mandatory. People could apply to vary any or all of these standards if, for example, they owned an irregular-sized housing block.

She said while some residents and/or property owners would be opposed to the new standards and zones, Council had made some compromises along the way in response to feedback. For example, Council had decided against proceeding with increases to side setbacks and had removed the minimum height specification for canopy trees required as part of new multi-unit developments.

At its meeting last night, Council also resolved to advocate to the State Government for changes to the regulations for single dwellings.

“We’re seeing homes being built, boundary to boundary, blocking out sunlight in neighbours’ backyards, with no greenery to be seen,” Cr Paterson said.

“Council currently has little say over the regulations for McMansions as they are governed by the State Government.

“We’re going to advocate to the State Government for changes to reduce the size of these new homes and to require trees and greenery, so these new homes are a better fit for our existing neighbourhoods.”

Media Contact: Jo Robertson 0418 391 979 or email

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