The Design and Distribution Overlays (DDOs) covering a large part of Fitzroy and a little bit of Collingwood were put out for community feedback in September 2022. Residents rallied and together there was over 500 responses either by email or by completion of the survey were received by Council. While the consultation period, was not ideal (3 weeks over a school holiday) it marked a huge step for Yarra Council, directly engaging with the Community prior to putting their plans to the Minister. What was even more heartening was that Council listened to the feedback provided, and while there are many locations that we feel are too large for the residential amenity of Fitzroy, there were many wins, and the updated overlays are all the better for your feedback.
General improvements include:
- A restriction on new buildings increasing the amount of overshadowing for public open spaces, reserves or parks.
- A requirement for green infrastructure and vertical greening (such as canopy trees, green walls, and planter boxes) to be included.
- Refinement of wording regarding vehicle access points to improve pedestrian amenity and safety.
- More clarity around how decisions will be made.
Specific improvements include:
- ‘Mandatory’ height limits and street walls for the DDOs covering Brunswick St, Smith St Shops, Gertrude St Shops, Johnston St West, Brunswick St Grand Residential, and Johnston St South (and Victoria St). The FRA support ‘Mandatory’ height limits over ‘Preferred’ as these provide clarity and certainty to developers and residents of the mandatory maximum. Preferred height limits may be challenged and will likely lead to additional conflict and the need for matters to go to VCAT. Preferred limits still exist in the DDOs covering the Town Hall and back block area, Fitzroy East and East Johnston St, Smith St North and South, Alexandra Pde, Victoria Pde and all Fitzroy West, which are the more residential areas.
- Decrease in the height of buildings from Leicester St to Cecil St from 5 storeys to 4 storeys (except the non-contributory buildings on the SW corner of Cecil St and Brunswick St)
- Reduction in the height of the SE corner of Rose St and George St from 6 storeys to 5 storeys.
- Reduction in the street wall height on Johnston Street from 4 storeys to 3 storeys.
- An increase to upper-level setbacks above the street wall along Brunswick St and Johnston St from 6 metres to 8 metres.
The Council met on 6 December 2022 to discuss these changes. The FRA spoke at the Council meeting commending the Council for the collaborative approach with the Community. The FRA also expressed its support for Design and Development Overlays to provide clarity to all who live, visit, buy and build in Fitzroy. The FRA requested that when the DDOs get submitted for exhibition, that we would like to request that:
- All DDOs should call for ‘mandatory’ height limits not ‘preferred’,
- Height limits be consistent with buildings with a heritage overlay, and
- To work with Council on areas where the proposed building could significantly reduce residential amenity.
After the Community had shared their views, Cr. Crossland made several late changes, one which was not fully supported by the rest of Council, in that he added a clause that will promote lot consolidation. The argument for lot consolidation is that you remove the ‘skinny tower’ development, but from a heritage aspect, consolidating multiple buildings is more likely to increase a destruction of original building fabric behind the façade. While not supported by all Councillors, this was still passed. The FRA is conducting more research on lot consolidation in the lead up to the DDOs being exhibited.
If you have concerns with a DDO, please contact Rachel Axton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Deputy Chair, FRA