What is a structure plan?
A structure plan is a plan for place. It sets a long-term vision for how an area will develop , and includes guidance on things like building types and heights, aspirations for open space, new or improved transport connections, heritage, infrastructure, and parking. Structure plans are important ways to direct growth, and provide certainty for community members and developers about what change is expected in an area. The documents are implemented into the Planning Scheme through a formal planning scheme amendment, and this gives them a formal role in guiding development of the areas which they cover.
Why do we need structure plans?
Structure plans are important ways that Council can direct, manage and plan for the outcomes of, population growth. This growth is occurring right across Greater Melbourne, in every local government area, directed by State Government Policy. Plan Melbourne is the Victorian Government strategy that sets out how Melbourne will grow and change until 2050. It says there will be 1.5 million more residents, needing 584,705 additional homes between 2017 and 2031. For Glen Eira this means around 40,000 new residents, 18,000 additional homes, 22,000 more jobs, and potentially up to 29,000 extra cars (between 2016-2036). Our forecast population for 2020 is currently 157,311, and is expected to grow to 180,626 by 2036: https://forecast.id.com.au/glen-eira(External link). For Council, State Government directions mean we have a role in managing growth, whilst at the same time, responding to community aspirations for liveable, vibrant local places that retain and reflect history and identity. Structure plans are an important way to bring these roles together. Plans help to ensure that homes are built close to amenities, transport and jobs, and that we look ahead to the necessary infrastructure and open space to support local needs.
Through the process of developing a structure plan, we can identify what people like about where they live, and ensure these views and ideas are translated into the future shape of local places.
Why do we need a structure plan for Glen Huntly?
Council has a program of structure planning for major activity centres over time. Glen Huntly is included in these centres. It has also been a focus because of the opportunities for the area arising from level crossing removals on Neerim and Glenhuntly roads which will include a new Glenhuntly Station.
How has the draft Structure Plan been developed?
The structure plan has been developed in multiple steps and stages, beginning in 2017, when Council launched a wide consultation process to ask the Glen Eira community what they loved about their local shopping strip. This consultation was conducted in all activity centres, including Glen Huntly, where we received lots of initial views.
From this process, Council developed an Activity Centre, Housing and Local Economy Strategy (which has now been renamed as the 'City Plan'). In 2018, the Victorian Government committed to provide funding for Level Crossing Removals at Neerim Road and Glen Huntly Road in Glen Huntly. This provided an opportunity to progress with planning work for Glen Huntly. Between May and June 2019, we went back to the community, to develop key directions for Glen Huntly. In October and November 2019, we sought your feedback on these Key Directions as well as design ideas for the planned two Glen Huntly level crossing removals. In mid-2020, we invited community feedback on a draft structure plan. In September 2020, Council did not adopt the plan so further work was done to investigate key issues raised by the community during consultation.
What area is covered by the draft Structure Plan?
The draft Structure Plan covers the commercial core of Glen Huntly, in and around the main shopping strip and railway station, as well as the Neerim Road intersection. This area sits at the centre of the current activity centre, comprising the commercial core and all surrounding land zoned General Residential (GRZ).
The map below shows the Structure Plan area (shaded dark green) in the wider Study Area (dark green outline).
What happens to the draft Plan from here?
If adopted a final structure plan will reflect Council policy. To implement the Plan, a number of further steps are needed. These steps include making an amendment to the Glen Eira Planning Scheme.
The Planning Scheme sets out policies and provisions for the use, development and protection of land within Glen Eira. It includes State Government provisions, policies specific to Glen Eira, and a strategic vision for the municipality. A planning scheme amendment makes changes to the Scheme, in turn changing how land can be used or developed. For major projects proposed on Council-owned land such as new public spaces, a more detailed implementation plan will be developed which will include non-statutory implementation and advocacy strategies.
Why are specific building heights proposed?
Currently there are no height limits on the commercially-zoned land in Glen Huntly. The proposal is to introduce discretionary height limits that are based on detailed urban design analysis which considers street wall height, building height and street relationship, setbacks, visual bulk impacts, and overshadowing. These heights can be defended at a panel or VCAT hearing with good evidence if challenged by a developer aiming to construct a taller building. For the centre of the commercial strip where old shop fronts are intact, height limits are proposed to be mandatory, to better ensure the village character is protected.
What makes Glen Huntly unique?
Glen Huntly is a dense, multicultural suburb, anchored by the train station and shopping strip running east-west on Glenhuntly Road. The Glen Huntly Structure Plan study area is focused around this core. The surrounding residential area contains a wide variety of housing styles, from four-storey apartment buildings to single-storey detached houses. While the housing stock is good quality and well-occupied, the ageing shopping strip is starting to lose tenancy. However, the strong character of the area remains intact, as reflected in the diversity of businesses, the heritage qualities of buildings and unique features such as the anchor at Grange Road. Glen Huntly is well-connected to neighbouring suburbs and the CBD through the rail line, tram line and bus network. As the suburb is already quite densely developed, there are not significant prospects for urban renewal, but there are key development opportunity sites that will contribute to a revitalisation of the shopping strip along with the level crossing removals at Neerim and Glenhuntly roads.
Is it possible to retain the character of Glen Huntly whilst also accommodating growth?
A structure plan helps to achieve this challenge. By retaining the shop fronts, maintaining a consistent street wall height and applying appropriate setbacks above, new development can be accommodated without dominating the existing street view. Identifying a few opportunity sites with fewer constraints where development can be concentrated, means that other areas can remain as they are. Transitioning between new taller buildings and existing lower residential areas is a way to develop that is sensitive to the context. An activity centre needs to accommodate a variety of land uses and activities and structure plans also help with this as they explore what uses can be accommodated for future needs and where.
What type of development will be built in the future?
The type of development is controlled by the zone. The commercial zone on Glen Huntly Road allows for all types of retail activity such as is currently there (restaurants, laundromats, shops, etc.) It also allows residential development above. If a proposed use fits the zone, the development can occur. Council can influence the type of development with community and public interest in mind. Additional and more diverse housing for a growing and changing population, or office space to accommodate local jobs, can be encouraged.
How were proposed building heights arrived at?
Heights proposed were developed by looking at the context of each precinct (heights and setbacks of existing buildings, interface, lot size, existing built character) and impact on amenity such as overshadowing which was tested with 3D modelling.
How is overshadowing in residential areas minimised?
Buildings on the south side of Glen Huntly Road may cast a shadow on neighbouring properties to the south. To minimise this, buildings must be setback behind the sun angle at the September equinox measured from the top of the backyard fence of the adjacent residential property to the top of the proposed building. This standard is in the Planning Scheme.
Is there going to be any increase in affordable housing?
Affordable housing is an objective in the Plan. Council can negotiate with developers for affordable housing or other community benefits as part of the rezoning or planning permit processes. Affordable housing could also include social housing, which is affordable housing that is owned differently (i.e. publically or not-for-profit owned and/or managed). The Plan does not identify a site specifically, but we can seek opportunities to contribute to social housing when possible, as outlined in our Social and Affordable Housing Strategy.