New laws to protect winter sunlight

New laws to protect winter sunlight
Spencer Fowler Steen

Parks across North Melbourne and Kesington will be protected from unreasonable overshadowing by developments under new laws being considered by the City of Melbourne.

The amendment to the Parks Planning Scheme will introduce “no additional overshadowing” for parks in low- to mid-rise areas such as Powlett Reserve in East Melbourne, a limit on the amount of overshadowing of parks in urban renewal areas and increased winter sunlight protection.

Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece said Melbourne’s parks faced a significant threat from new developments keen to take advantage of the city’s world-class open spaces.

 

While there are existing planning controls to protect sunlight in the central city, no laws protect our suburbs, including the family-friendly havens of Kensington, North Melbourne and Carlton.

 

“Protecting our parks against inappropriate development is a priority for the City of Melbourne as we build back better after COVID-19.”

In the past year, the council has seen a threefold increase in visitors to its parks which have served as a haven for locked-down locals to exercise and enjoy the outdoors.

The C278 Sunlight to Parks planning scheme amendment seeks to provide for this by introducing winter sunlight access to all parks within the municipality based on the winter solstice instead of the spring equinox.

While the current laws prioritise the use of parks by city workers during lunch breaks between 11am and 2pm, the amendment will increase sunlight protection hours between 10am to 3pm during winter.

A panel report into the merits of the amendment found the proposal successfully balances city growth with the protection of parks.

Laws to protect sunlight in Melbourne’s parks were introduced in 1999, when there were far fewer high-rise buildings in the city.

Cr Reece said the sunlight to parks amendment would elevate the importance of parks as community assets and give the council a strong set of rules to follow when considering new development applications.

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve continued to see a steady stream of development applications submitted to council,” Cr Reece said.

“This is the perfect time to consider these planning scheme amendments to future proof Melbourne’s parks.”

However, due to seven councillors, including Lord Mayor Sally Capp, declaring a conflict of interest during the Future Melbourne Committee meeting on August 17, quorum for the meeting was lost.

As a result, a report will now be prepared for the August 31 council meeting so the remaining councillors who do not have conflict of interests can decide on the amendment.

If approved by the council, the planning scheme amendment will be presented to the Minister for Planning Richard Wynne for final approval.

A delegated committee headed by Cr Elizabeth Doidge will consider submissions and finalise the council’s position in September •

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