The City of Greater Geelong is attempting to reduce planning protections for our neighbourhoods, without consultation with the community. This proposal would affect parts of many suburbs across Greater Geelong, including Barwon Heads, Belmont, Highton, Geelong West, Marshall and Waurn Ponds among many others.
Residents deserve to know about this proposal and deserve their chance to have a say in such a radical change to the planning protections that preserve the character and natural amenity of their neighbourhoods. Mayor Stephanie Asher is denying residents this opportunity.
Please see below statement from Member for South Barwon Darren Cheeseman for further details:
My office has recently been made aware of an attempt by the City of Greater Geelong Council to remove minimum garden requirements that are in place around train stations and retail precincts across Greater Geelong. This would pave the way for apartment blocks and high-density lots with no green space being built, that do not fit the character of Geelong communities. It would result in precious trees being removed, loss of green space, and Melbourne-style housing.
Increased housing diversity is important, but it should not come at the cost of the distinctive character of our neighbourhoods.
In 2021, Mayor Stephanie Asher wrote to the Planning Minister, requesting that he undo these minimum garden area protections, without community consultation or input.
We condemn Mayor Asher and the Council’s attempts to sneakily avoid public scrutiny and deny the community a say in this proposal that would affect their communities.
We are launching this petition to call on the Planning Minister to completely reject this request, and safeguard the character, green space, and natural amenity of our neighbourhoods.
The petition can be found here: https://darrencheeseman.com.au/campaigns/protect-minimum-garden-requirements/
Quotes attributable to Member for South Barwon Darren Cheeseman
“I encourage all residents concerned about this proposal to sign this petition and stand up against Mayor Stephanie Asher’s plans to wreck the character of our neighbourhoods.”
Quotes attributable to Member for Geelong Christine Couzens
“Mayor Asher and the Council’s attempt to remove green space and impose higher density on our neighbourhoods, without community consultation is appalling.”
Quotes attributable to Member for Bellarine Lisa Neville
“The State Government introduced minimum garden area requirements to protect the lifestyle of local communities and the character of our suburbs and towns.”
Background: Geelong council amendment C426 – residential zones
Background to residential zones
- In 2017, the Minister for Planning updated the residential zones to introduce minimum mandatory garden area requirements in neighbourhood and general residential zones. This included changes to mandatory dwelling caps and height requirements as well.
- Due to these changes, all councils were instructed to amend their planning schemes to implement these new zones within a 3 year timeframe. Reformed Residential Zones, March 2017 Reformed residential zones booklet (PDF, 1.4 MB) stated that ‘Councils with building height variations in zone schedules that are inconsistent with the reformed zones will have three years to comply with the new requirements.’
- Geelong council did not implement these zones within the required timeframes.
Changes to Geelong’s residential areas
- DELWP undertook a policy neutral amendment on December 2020 (GC172) to apply these changes where councils had not undertaken this work through a Ministerial intervention, Geelong was one of them.
- Some of these changes in Geelong included downgrading residential growth to general residential areas to protect the height limit.
- However, this meant council’s locations for higher density (referred to as increased housing diversity areas), which was previously designated for residential growth became general residential – and now included mandatory garden area requirements.
- Therefore, our government introduced minimum garden areas to these locations.
- These increased housing diversity areas were identified by the council in 2008, and not implemented until 2014 by then Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy.
- The Council’s Housing Diversity Strategy was introduced through development of its Housing Diversity Strategy in September 2008 (with informal consultation) and was implemented in 2014.
Current request from City of Greater Geelong
- In March 2021, Geelong Council submitted a request to the Minister for Planning to remove these new garden area requirements around their retail and activity centres and train stations, in the locations listed below.
- This was requested as a Ministerial intervention without community consultation.
- Attached is the council’s meeting minutes for this request. The report attached to these minutes have not been consulted with the community.
- This request sought to remove minimum garden area requirements, and would return the garden area exemption that previously existed in these locations, to support increased housing density.
- Locations proposed by council for the removal of minimum garden area requirements are as follows (refer to maps in the attached document, and also para 7.2, page 85 of the attached council minutes outlines this request, including exempting garden areas in para 7.2.3):
- Barwon Heads
- Bell Park, Separation Street
- Bell Post Shopping Centre
- Bellarine Village and Newcombe Central
- Belmont, High Street
- Corio Shopping Centre
- East Geelong, Ormond Road
- Geelong West, Manifold Heights and Newtown
- Hamilyn Heights, Vines Road
- Highton Shopping Centre
- Lara and Lara Station
- Marshall Station
- North Geelong Station
- Ocean Grove
- Ocean Grove Market Place
- South Geelong Station
- St Leonards
- Waurn Ponds
- Further information is published on the council website https://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/news/item/8d8a835e22d4bfe.aspx