Which Way Warrandyte?

by JAMES POYNER
6th May 2024

GOLDFIELDS Plaza, Colin Avenue, and Melbourne Hill Road shops could grow to up to four storeys according to Manningham Council’s new concept design for its Neighbourhood Activity Centres (NACs), which could help meet the municipality’s housing shortfall.

As the reality of significant population increase and a lack of housing/infrastructure to meet it looms across Australia, government at every level is looking at ways to deal with the short-term and long-term implications.

With the population in Manningham expected to increase to more than 140,000 in the next 12 years, Manningham is faced with the challenge of building 8,000 new homes to accommodate an additional 18,000 people.

One option the Council is investigating is the development of Neighbourhood Activity Centres (NACs) as a way of introducing additional housing in urban/suburban shopping centres.

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

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 youÕre 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, said Cr Lange.

With the final endorsement of the Activity Centre Design Guidelines not happening until mid-2025, the initial stage of community consultation is via a survey on the project’s dedicated Your Say page.

The survey is open until June 16, and users of activity centres across Manningham are encouraged to participate.

However, as per the nature of these surveys, the questions are agree/disagree statements regarding the extent of aspects outlined in the Concept Designs, and any genuine feedback/impression about design concepts — within the survey — is limited to about 350 words.

The concept for the NACs covers objectives under six key themes: Building height, residential interface, architectural presentation, public realm, sustainability, and access and car parking.

Of particular note is the proposal to allow buildings of up to four storeys in the Goldfields precinct.

Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) President Terry Tovey said the Concept Design requires careful consideration.

“It shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand and could, if handled sensitively, help address the shortage of diverse and affordable accommodation in Warrandyte and Melbourne.

However, as with all planning matters, the devil is in the detail.

Firstly, what footprint are we talking about for this activity centre?

Beyond this, Council’s discussion paper identifies three other themes, including design quality, neighbourhood character, and housing choice, that is, diversity and affordability.

What capacity does Council really have to influence design quality?

What capacity does Council have to influence diversity and choice in housing?

Does Council have any useful role in ensuring that any development incorporates some social housing?

And how would Council ensure that the activity centre has some design coherence and liveability and does not end up as a barren, over-developed blight driven by private developer interests rather than community needs and interests?

European cities manage medium-density development that focuses on community amenity, and quality design.

That’s what we could aim for here, but I feel that is not what we will get.

The WCA intends to engage Council on all these issues and encourages everyone to read the discussion paper and to make their views known.

Manningham’s housing strategy to date has been thoughtful and strategic, and we should conduct a sensible dialogue with Council to assist it in meeting targets imposed by the State Government while protecting the neighbourhood character, amenity and special environmental qualities of Warrandyte.

Of course, what isn’t addressed in any of this is whether rapid population growth is in Melbourne’s or Australia’s best interests.”

It is also worth noting Park Orchards is also proposed to allow up to a maximum of four storeys in its NAC.

The Diary contacted Manningham Council for more specifics about the concept design for the Goldfields precinct, particularly the perceived impact that four storeys would have on amenity.

Manningham Council Director City Planning, Andrew McMaster, provided this response:

“Manningham Council recognises that each neighbourhood activity centre has its own unique and valued character.

They also play an important role in meeting a range of daily needs for our communities as places where people can meet and socialise.

The Design Concepts identify that Goldfields Plaza Shopping Centre in Warrandyte has the capacity to accommodate developments up to four storeys in height.

However, the height in areas where a new development is adjacent to an existing residential development will be lower to protect nearby amenity.

A key objective of the Design Concepts is that all built form is based on the principles of good design and sustainability.

These concepts build on the objectives of the Manningham Liveable City Strategy 2040, endorsed by Council in 2022.

Importantly, they also seek to protect the amenity of the area through a range of requirements, including:

  • maintaining sunlight to footpaths and the public realm
  • active frontages and awnings to provide weather protection
  • internal spaces that are usable, functional, and have a high degree of amenity.

The current consultation phase seeks community views on a range of Activity Centre Design Concepts.

Feedback received will help inform the preparation of the draft Activity Centre Design Guidelines, which will be exhibited in early 2025 for further community feedback.”

Be sure to have your say on the future of the Goldfields precinct at yoursay.manningham.vic.gov.au/activity-centre-design-guidelines.

Manningham Council’s Manningham Activity Centre Built Form and Context Analysis, March 2024, which is available to download from the Your Say page, details the specific footprint of each of these activity centres.