It’s one of Australia’s favourite cities to explore on foot, but Melbourne lawmakers think the city could function even better following a significant overhaul of design regulations.

This week Victorian minister for planning, Richard Wynne approved City Council’s new Central Melbourne Design Guide which aims to rethink outdated urban design requirements applying to the central city and Southbank.

Major design focuses of the document are:

  • Car parking in buildings being underground
  • Minimising the impact of building services at ground level, such as fire control rooms, airconditioning vents, electrical substations and rubbish areas 
  • Less than 40 per cent of the ground floor of a building being occupied by building services to reduce facades which turn their backs to streets
  • Expanding the Retail Core requirement for 80 per cent active frontages to streets
  • New requirements to integrate good design from the first step of the planning process and especially encouraging well considered and resolved design detail for the lower levels of new buildings.   

It’s the biggest rewrite of the city’s urban design requirements since the 1990s and according to deputy lord mayor, Nicholas Reece, will protect the streets from more “featureless facades” and “ugly towers that are nothing more than spreadsheets in the sky.”

“Melbourne has some fantastic buildings which demonstrate innovation and contribute to world class streets, but in recent times there have been too many examples of where we have fallen short,” he said.

“Now there is no excuse for unattractive and unimaginative lower-level building interfaces, forcing pedestrians to look at car parks, monotonous glass panels, or ugly building services.”

“This is what building back better looks like, this is a revolution for the city at the eye level, this is about drawing a line and saying from now on Melbourne must aim higher.”

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