Firstly, Save Ivanhoe are not urban planners. We are residents. So our understanding of planning policy is limited. But here's a high-level layman's view.
The Brumby Government's Policy
A number of years ago the Brumby State Government under the Melbourne 2030 and Melbourne@5Million plans identified a number of areas that are considered suitable as 'Activity Centres.' Ivanhoe was designated an Activity Centre (as were Greensborough & Heidelberg). More information is included on the Dept of Planning & Community Development website which is worth a read to get a better background.
Frequently Asked Questions - also worth a read:
The Baillieu Government's Policy
Melbourne 2030 and Melbourne@5Million are Brumby government plans that have not been endorsed by the new Baillieu government. See http://vic.liberal.org.au/webData/policies_others/Planning.pdf.This provides an overview of the Liberal National's pre election platform. See Pages 13 and 14 for "Activities areas."
When the Baillieu government came to power one of the first amendments enacted was to "remove from the State Planning Policy Framework the Labor Government’s VC71, clause 16 amendments which allow for high rise, high density development along every tram, train, bus or light rail corridor." Clause 16 was removed in Amendment VC75 gazetted 16th December 2010.
The Age has reported that Matthew Guy, Planning Minister, has stated that instead of sprinkling high-density housing across Melbourne, the Baillieu government would look at massive strategic developments in specific sites close to the central business district, including at Fishermans Bend, the 20-hectare E-Gate site just off Footscray Road, and the area around Richmond station.
So as far as we can see the intent of Banyule Council to create highrise along bus routes and around railways stations is contrary to Coalition State Government policy. The Baillieu Government is currently reviewing planning guidelines so in some way local Councils are proceeding without any clear direction from the State.
Nevertheless we have been advised that Banyule Council needs to submit a structure plan to State Government. This is due sometime in 2013, which should allow enough time for residents and Council to discuss and shape the plan.
The State Government policy says that:
"Structure planning is not a rigid one-size-fits-all process, but needs to be tailored to suit the specific needs of each individual centre".
So what can Council make decisions on?
• Building heights
• The boundary and location of the Activity Centre
• Designated open spaces etc
These planning decisions are for Banyule Council to decide. This is where your feedback as residents is vitally important.
The strange thing is that Banyule Council has stated that the proposed buildings heights or boundary of the activity centre is not based on any population estimates. Nor has Banyule Council been given a minimum area that must be included. Nor does the planning process take into account services and infrastructure like schools or transport. The decisions on height and boundaries are up to Council to put in the plan which will be eventually submitted to State Government for approval.
This document link below provides general guidelines that Council are expected to adhere to when developing a structure plan:
An example of heights proposed by other Councils has been included on the What heights have other Councils set? page.
Activity Centres can be Amalgamated
The State Government also recognises that some Activity Centres may need to be amalgamated with other Activity Centres in the future. With Heidelberg less than 2km from Ivanhoe it is questionable as to whether Ivanhoe and Heidelberg need to be separate Activity Centres. Can be they be considered as one broad centre? Think outside the square further. Can Bell St, The Mall and other areas within 2km of Ivanhoe and Heidelberg be considered as part of the general activity centre? There are some areas in the broad Heidelberg and Ivanhoe area crying out for a facelift! Why destroy an existing established suburb? Northland is only a 5 minute drive away. How much extra retail does Ivanhoe really need?
How do you see Ivanhoe looking in the future?
How does Banyule Councill get the balance of appropriate development right while maintaining the character of the existing suburb?
If done properly this plan has the potential of protecting the suburb, while creating planning certainty for residents and developers. If done badly it will destroy Ivanhoe's soul. That won't benefit traders or residents. Once it's gone, it won't return.
What is your vision of Ivanhoe? How will it look in 20 or 30 years time?
Now is the time to tell Council. Now is the time to be actively involved.