New interim planning controls have been introduced to protect a section of the Yarra River in inner-city Melbourne from “inappropriate development”.
The steps taken by the government are thought to be in relation to complaints over residential developments, including a 12-storey, 109-apartment tower to be built on a site in Victoria Street, Abbotsford by Salta Properties, which has been criticised for being too close to the banks and too tall. There are concerns the Salta Properties development would also partially obscure the iconic Skipping Girl Vinegar sign.
But today the Victorian government announced interim planning controls that include mandatory building height and setback controls.
The interim controls will come into force from today (Thursday) and will apply until 31 December 2017, so permanent controls for the Yarra River corridor can be finalised.
“Implementing stronger planning controls to protect the Yarra River corridor from inappropriate development is a key priority for the Andrews Labor Government,” acting Minister for Planning Tim Pallas said.
“We are laying the foundations for long-term protection of the river by forming a Ministerial Advisory Committee to provide overarching and independent expert advice in regard to long-term management of the Yarra River and environs.”
The news was welcomed by Yarra City Council mayor Roberto Colanzi, who said the decision would provide “stronger protection against overdevelopment of the river between Darebin Creek and Punt Road”.
“We’ve long advocated for minimum setbacks of between 25 and 40 metres from the nearest adjoining title to the river, and height controls varying between one to two storeys and four storeys,” he said.
“It is especially important to have these interim planning controls in place as the state government works on the overarching plan for the river.
“The decision will provide council with powers to refuse proposals that don’t provide the proper protections for the river area.”
Salta Properties is also in the spotlight regarding a 539-apartment development set too for the banks of the Yarra in Abbotsford, which has been referred to as a “mini-Surfers Paradise”.
The plot of land for the development, however, lies within a “priority development zone” controlled by the planning minister, meaning the local council, the City of Yarra, was unable to stop the development from going ahead, and residents were unable to comment on the application.
The development plans included two buildings of 10 and 11 storeys that were just 22-44 metres from the river bank, and included 508 car spaces.
City of Yarra Councillor Stephen Jolly had previously told The Age it would be a big test for current planning minister Richard Wynne, as Abbotsford was within the minister’s electorate.