Intervening to Protect Central Melbourne's Liveability


Central City Built Form Review Synthesis Report




Department of Environment, Land and Water, Victoria


The Central City Built Form Review Synthesis Report provided the strategic justification for Planning Scheme Amendment C270 which was gazetted in November 2016 and now applies to all development in Melbourne's CBD

Over the past decade central Melbourne has undergone rapid growth and seen unprecedented levels of development activity. There was significant concern from the general public, and planning and design professionals, that the quality of many of these developments was beginning to undermine the long-term liveability and success of the city.

Major development permits under construction or approved between 2011 and 2016 in Melbourne (Source: DELWP)

In early 2015, Leanne Hodyl published findings from her award-winning Churchill Fellowship that transformed how these developments were perceived. Her research demonstrated that high-rise apartments were being built in Melbourne at four times the maximum densities allowed in hyper-dense cities such as Hong Kong and New York. The report emphasised the inadequacy of the existing planning controls in managing the scale and acceleration of growth and was pivotal in the introduction of interim planning controls in late 2015, and the launch of a comprehensive review of built form policy in the central city by the Minister for Planning.

Diagrams demonstrating the scale and design of development permitted in Hong Kong in comparison to development trends in Melbourne in 2014.

The Work We Did

Building on this ground breaking work, Hodyl + Co were given a brief to synthesise a comprehensive body of research that examined the planning context in the central city. This synthesis was used to inform a series of recommendations to improve planning controls and built form outcomes.

It's clear that this review is needed to ensure the planning scheme responds to the current scale and density of development occurring in our city.

— Richard Wynne

Victorian Planning Minister

A key challenge was introducing planning controls that would support continued investment in the city, while dramatically raising the standard of urban design. The report emphasises the interdependence of good urban design and the creation of a liveable city with Melbourne's appeal as a destination for economic investment.

The review recommended the introduction of density controls, revised building envelope controls and a floor area uplift mechanism. These planning controls focus on delivering high levels of internal amenity, protecting sunlight to open space, improving the relationship between new development and the public realm, setting clear yield expectations for developers, and establishing a mechanism to deliver specified public benefits on private land.

Leanne Hodyl appeared as a key expert witness in urban design and planning for the Department through the independent panel review.

View towards the north of the central city demonstrating the unprecedented scale of growth in Melbourne.

As a Result of Our Work

The Central City Built Form Review Synthesis Report was finalised in early 2016, and Planning Scheme Amendment C270 was gazetted in November 2016 with minor changes. This work arrested the trend for poor urban design outcomes and transforms the way development occurs in the central city. The revised planning controls protect Melbourne’s internationally recognised liveability, and provide certainty and consistency in built form outcomes.