Let the sunshine in

With the inner city growing at a rapid rate, City of Melbourne councillors have initiated a review of “sunlight to public spaces” planning policy.

Proposed by Greens councillors Cathy Oke and Rohan Leppert, the review will look at the adequacy of a 16-year-old policy which is less concerned with overshadowing of parks and gardens than significant public plazas.

Specifically, the current planning regime precludes over-shadowing of the Yarra, Federation Square, City Square, Queensbridge Square or the State Library forecourt between 11am and 2pm on June 22.

The test for over-shadowing of public parks and gardens, public squares, major pedestrian routes including streets and lanes, however, is taken at September 22.

Councillors voted on February 10 to instruct their officers to report back on “findings and associated recommendations” in April.

Cr Oke said the objectives of the planning regime were impossible to achieve. “There is an inconsistently between the perception of what we do with overshadowing and what we can actually achieve within the planning scheme,” she said.

“And that, unfortunately, has been seen in some of the decisions that we have had to support.” Cr Oke noted that the Queen Victoria Market was not protected against overshadowing and she encouraged officers to look more broadly at other important spaces to be included in the review.

“Let’s see what we can do within the planning mechanisms to ensure that our parks and gardens as well as our public open spaces are protected,” she said.

Cr Leppert told the meeting that prior to 1999, Flagstaff Gardens, Parliament Gardens, Treasury Gardens and Batman Park enjoyed the June 22-level of overshadowing protection.

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