High-rise limits could ease by year’s end

By David Schout

The state government could soften restrictions on new inner-city developments by the end of the year, according to the Property Council of Australia.

At a recent Property Council luncheon, Premier Dan Andrews confirmed that changes to C270 planning controls were expected in the coming months.

The C270 planning restrictions, which include mandatory building setbacks and restrictions to plot ratios and shadow controls, were introduced by the government in November 2016 after a spike in high-rise approvals under the previous Liberal government.

Then planning minister Matthew Guy earned the nickname “Mr Skyscraper” on the back of excessive height allowances for developers, and C270’s implementation has seen a definitive drop in approvals.

But earlier this year planning minister Richard Wynne flagged a “tweaking” of the planning controls after just two new CBD commercial office buildings were approved in a two-year period under the amendment.

The Property Council said it had “significant concerns about the pipeline of supply” of commercial developments in the CBD, where the vacancy rate of 3.3 per cent was the lowest of capital cities across the country.

It has claimed the amount of office space was not growing at a rate to keep up with Melbourne's expanding workforce.

Victorian executive director Cressida Wall said that, as a result, changes to C270 were much needed.

“Since C270’s introduction, commercial CBD approvals have fallen dramatically and future supply has dried up, while vacancy rates are at historic lows,” she said.

“This position is untenable and changes to C270 to support commercial development are the release valve Melbourne urgently needs.”

The government would not confirm details about changes to the planning controls when contacted by CBD News, but reaffirmed its commitment to necessary restrictions on big developments.

“We’re continuing to speak to peak bodies about C270 and whether any tweaks are required,” a government spokesperson said.

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