Development a tall order?

by JAMES POYNER
20th May 2024

YOUR LOCAL shopping strip or centre might look very different in the next decade as Manningham Council begins community consultation on the look and feel of the municipality’s Neighbourhood Activity Centres (NACs) as part of its response to the significant population increase projected by the State Government.
Council has identified nine NACs:

  • Bulleen Plaza
  • Donburn
  • Doncaster East Village (Devon Plaza)
  • Jackson Court
  • Macedon Square/Plaza
  • Park Orchards
  • Templestowe Village
  • Tunstall Square
  • Warrandyte Goldfields

In its Victoria in Future 2023 report, the State Government predicts the state’s population will grow from its current 6.8 million to 10.3 million by 2051; the metropolitan/region split predicts growth in Metropolitan Melbourne will increase from 5.1M to 8M in this period, and from 1.7M to just 2.3M in regional Victoria.
Manningham is expected to have an influx of an additional 18,300 residents by 2036, taking its population to 144,120 and, compared with neighbouring Nillumbik, which is expected to gain an extra 3,970 residents (to 67,420) in the same period.
Manningham’s other more suburban municipal neighbours, Banyule and Maroondah, are predicted to increase by 21,490 and 17,490, respectively.
The bottom line is that the State Government sees the population growth in the state is likely to be focused in Metropolitan Melbourne, and the suburbs will bear the brunt of this population increase as significant new housing is needed.
Manningham, for example, needs to build an additional 8,000 homes to accommodate the 18,000+ residents.
New homes need to be balanced or complemented by access to nature, essential services, public transport, hospitals, and education, and both the State Government and local councils are exploring ways to do this.
One part of this is the Activity Centre Design Concepts community consultation, which is open for feedback — via a survey — until June 16.
The survey asks whether you agree or disagree with aspects of your local NAC, such as subterranean parking, the amount of natural light, and footpaths/cycleways.
Manningham Mayor Carli Lange said:

“We want to hear from the community on how we can best accommodate growth and development while ensuring that our activity centres and surrounding neighbourhoods maintain their liveability.
“If you’re a resident, chances are you regularly visit at least one of our vibrant activity centres across the municipality.
“We want to ensure that they continue to provide desirable destinations for people to live, shop, work and play — offering a range of retail, office and business opportunities, housing, community and education facilities.”

However, the most contentious detail of the Design Concepts is the proposed building height changes.
The document notes six development typologies in Manningham, ranging from single-storey “fine grain” development, such as the Donburn shopping strip, to high-rise housing, eight storeys, in areas such as Doncaster Hill.
The Design Concepts document states:

“It is proposed to support building heights of 4-6 storeys throughout our neighbourhood activity centres, with strategic redevelopment sites identified for up to eight storeys.
In keeping with the existing character of Warrandyte Goldfields and Park Orchards it is proposed to allow for heights up to 3-4 storeys.
This height will provide for growth and development beyond the current single or double storey character, while ensuring an appropriate transition to the public realm and sensitive interfaces”.

MN Bulletin contacted the Park Orchards Ratepayers Association (PORA) for feedback on the proposed potential growth of the Park Road/Hopetoun Road NAC.
A PORA Spokesperson provided this response:

“PORA has been absolutely blindsided by Council’s ‘consultation’ (or total lack thereof) regarding the Neighbourhood Activity Centres.
However, PORA has been actively involved in communication with the Manningham Council regarding many other issues we now face in this area in the last 10 months.
These communications have involved face-to-face meetings by appointment at the Manningham Council offices.
At no time were any of these issues raised by any representative of Manningham Council present.
Looking at Manningham Council’s initial consultation, the local Park Orchards area was never actively consulted, and Park Orchards was never identified as being considered a Neighbourhood Activity Centre.
We were grouped in with responses from Warrandyte and Wonga Park.
Given that surveys were conducted in Warrandyte, it stands to reason that input from Park Orchards and Wonga Park residents would be minimal to non-existent.
Looking at Manningham Council’s Liveable City Strategy Results summary, the Park Orchards area was never identified as a Neighbourhood Activity centre.
Consultation was not offered or given locally to the Park Orchards area.
The Liveable City Strategy report by Manningham Council shows that the Park Orchards area is now identified as a Neighbourhood Activity Centre.
Where is the basis for this inclusion, considering no consultation has effectively taken place in the area of Park Orchards? How did Park Orchards go from not being a Neighbourhood Activity Centre in the Liveable City Strategy Results summary to being declared a Neighbourhood Activity Centre in the Liveable City Strategy report?
The number of total submissions was 360 across Manningham.
The total population of Manningham is estimated to be approximately 130,000 people.
The number of submissions is woefully disproportionate to the number of residents these proposed outcomes will affect.
There is so much more to this; we haven’t even discussed building heights and building areas, the effectiveness of Council-initiated building ‘guidelines’, and the strength of existing overlays.
Overlays that are controlled by the State Government, who is also working with Council to push these initiatives through.
The same State Government has recommended that current residents who may be directly affected by medium-density housing projects have their rights to object removed.
The same State Government has also put local councils on notice regarding any failure to issue building approvals based on a numbers outcome.
All residents have a decision to make.
How much do they value their current neighbourhood amenity?”

The State Government has pledged to build 80,000 homes in Victoria in the next 10 years, and it will be up to local governments to make that happen.
Now is the time to have our say The first stages of determining where these new homes go are in the bones of surveys such as the Activity Centre Design Concepts survey.
We all need to ask ourselves what housing in our street, suburb, NAC—wherever we are in Manningham—looks like now and what we want it to look like in the coming decades.
There are numerous surveys circulating at the moment which will, ultimately, contribute to housing outcomes over the next decade.

The Victoria in Future 2023 report can be found at planning.vic.gov.au/guides-and-resources/data-and-insights/victoria-in-future.
What do you think? Email bulletin@warrandytediary.com.au.

Public meeting in Park Orchards

PORA has convened a public meeting on Tuesday, May 28, to discuss a number of issues/strategies/policies impacting Park Orchards residents, these include:

  • The Park Orchards Chalet
  • Manningham Residential Strategy
  • Neighbourhood Activity Centre Design Concepts

The meeting will take place at 7:30pm at St Anne’s Primary School, Knees Road.