How will the City of Monash change?
The Independent Panel provided a report assessing the viability of the amendment. Some of the panel’s recommendations were:
· That the Amendment abandon the rezoning of land in the ‘Monash National Employment Cluster’ and maintain the current General Residential Zone (Schedule 2) for the land.
· Land currently in the GRZ2 remain in this zone (as a holding zone pending future investigations) if it is identified in the Housing Strategy as having future redevelopment potential
· General Residential Zone (Schedule 3) and General Residential Zone (Schedule 4) should be combined with the requirements in the schedule to be watered down and less restrictive.
· Local policy to be amended to recognize distinctive areas and provide an appropriate response (eg: areas on main roads and residential hinterland sites have differences in character).
· The impact of residential development should be managed through a ‘Development envelope’ rather than ‘number of dwellings’ on a block,
· The Panel recommended that land identified as having ‘future redevelopment potential’ should be retained under the current General Residential Zone (Schedule 2).
· The panel recommended that local policies be revised, including the ‘Preferred Future Character’ statements, to recognise that change is supported in areas identified as having future development potential including in the ‘accessible areas’ and on main roads.
· Apartments, multi-level town houses, ‘side-by-side’ and ‘front back’ forms of dual occupancy can be an efficient means of achieving high amenity housing. These types of developments are an important form of housing to support housing diversity and affordability, and should be part of the Housing Strategy and neighborhood character policy.
In my Opinion:
The changes generally are designed to reduce development within GRZ and NRZ zones and to encourage greater residential development around Monash National Employment Cluster and the Clayton Activity Centre.
The proposed amendment fails to address and adequately differentiate between land specifically identified as having potential for higher density housing and the more remote hinterland areas. The amendment fails to distinguish areas that do not share the same contextual and strategic advantages. In short, the proposed schedules are excessive and are a restrictive blanket approach.
The amendment looks to limit ‘Density’ as it closely aligns it to character ‘garden city’, landscape, heritage and amenity aspirations. Limiting ‘density’ results in fewer housing typologies, which reduces affordability and housing diversity. Opportunities for people who want to stay and downsize or first home buyers are greatly limited.
Given many of the Panel’s recommendations have not been followed there must be some doubt as to what weight should be given to Council’s final adopted version of the Amendment.
Monash Planning Scheme - Amendment C125
The Amendment applies to all land within the City of Monash currently zoned General Residential and the Neighbourhood Residential and reflects the objectives, directions and actions of the Monash Housing Strategy 2014. The amendment changes existing schedules and introduces new schedules to GRZ and NRZ zones. It also makes changes to land in the Monash National Employment Cluster and the Clayton Activity Centre. Specific changes include:
· A minimum allotment size of 300m2 for some Neighborhood Residential Zones Schedules
· The introduction of Schedules 3, 4, 5 and 6 to the General Residential Zone.
· General Residential Zone Schedule 3 and 4 generally to the areas identified as the Garden City Suburbs.
· Introduction of a Design and Development Overlay to provide direction on preferred building heights within the Clayton Activity Centre and the Monash National Employment Cluster.
These changes reflect the Monash Housing Strategy 2014 which was adopted by council in October 2014. The Strategy includes a Residential Framework Plan, which sets out aspirations for the form and intensity of development in different locations. The aim of the housing strategy is to provide clearer directions about appropriate location for increased residential development which reflect the aspirations for the community regarding the residential garden city character. In addition, the housing strategy also tried to better reflect the changing population needs and to provide direction on how to best met them.
On 22/06/2017, the amendment was submitted to the Department for Approval. The outcome is still unknown. We recommend that, if you have land in the City of Monash, you get expert advice on your development.
Is Planning the next Disruption?
First it was drones bricklaying, then there were driverless cars now we are talking about automated infrastructure, where is this all going? The future is very clear, the connected city; big data is influencing decision making about how we plan, organize and design our cities.
The company that owns Google recently decided to go from making software to developing cities. Sidewalk Labs, sister company to Google, is in the early stages of developing a 12-acre strip in the center of Toronto, which will become the first high tech district, which will be fully connected. Sidewalk Labs want to re-think the city ‘from the internet up.’ What exactly that means for us I’m not sure, but Sidewalk Labs have been experimenting within New York. The first test project five years ago was to create a network of wi-fi kiosks. Since then they have partnered with the Department of Transport in the US to create a traffic data platform. The move towards collecting, monitoring, aggregating data to inform city planning is well underway.
‘Dan Doctoroff head of Sidewalk Labs has spoken often about how technology like autonomous transit, high-speed internet, embedded sensors and ride-sharing services could transform urban life. He’s also hinted at technologies ability to overhaul zoning rules and control housing costs, a particular interest of Larry Page one of the founders of Google’. One school of thought is that by relying on big data, better modeling for the city can lead to more effective policies and targeted solutions.
Details on how a private enterprise could finance a profitable business model and all question of how to recoup investment seems to be closely guarded. Sidewalk Lab’s partner organizations in Toronto Quayside, has hinted profitability will come through value capture mechanisms which rely heavily on future real estate gains. Questions about bridging the political divide and common law principles such as natural justice and nuisance have been left unanswered. At this early stage there are more questions than answers.
In the immediate term Toronto will get a new 2,000-acre waterfront community that is intended to ‘serve as a test bed for emerging technologies, materials, approaches and processes that will address these challenges and create a new global benchmark for sustainable, inclusive and accessible urban development.’ Not ambitious, innovative or revolutionary at all.
 Smart Cities NYC conference 2017, Sidewalk Labs Chief Executive Officer Dan Doctoroff
 May 9, 2017, 7:37 AM GMT+10, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs Eyes Toronto for Its Digital City, Mark Bergen, 5/21/2017 Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs Eyes Toronto for Its Digital City Bloomberg.https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/20170508/