case studies

The City of Moonee Valley Local Planning Scheme

Expansion of stormwater quality requirements

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Celeste Morgan
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Insight:

Local planning policy can advance requirements for local development

Project description

The City of Moonee Valley, a local government municipality in Melbourne, Victoria, made an amendment (C108) that introduces a new Local Planning Policy, ‘Stormwater Management (Water Sensitive Urban Design)’ to Clause 22.03 of the Moonee Valley Planning Scheme. At the time of the amendment in Victoria, a statewide policy in the Victorian Planning Policy (VPP) required residential subdivisions to meet best practice objectives for stormwater treatment (removal of 45% of Total Nitrogen, 45% of Total Phosphorus and 80% of Total Suspended Solids). However, the state policy only affected residential developments undergoing subdivision. The local stormwater management policy in Moonee Valley established requirements for other types of developments to demonstrate compliance with best practice performance objectives for stormwater treatment.

The policy applies to all land in the municipality, where an application is made for new buildings, extensions to existing buildings which are 50m2 in floor area or greater, and subdivisions in commercial zones. The amendment commenced exhibition on 8 November 2012, and was approved and published (with changes) in the State Government Gazette on 13 March 2014.

The drivers

In 2012, the Victoria Planning Provisions required incorporation of water sensitive urban design (WSUD) only when a subdivision permit was issued for residential developments. The requirements did not apply to existing home extensions or rebuilds and small-scale developments that do not trigger the need for a subdivision permit. This amendment was considered necessary as an interim measure until such time as either the Building Council of Australia or state sections of planning schemes were amended and updated to require onsite treatment of stormwater runoff. This was particularly a concern for inner city council areas, where the majority of infill development was not captured by state policy.

The key driver of amendment C108 in the Moonee Valley Planning Scheme was to mitigate the detrimental effect of development on downstream water bodies, including creeks, rivers and bays, by improving the quality of stormwater runoff prior to discharge.

The innovations

City of Moonee Valley’s local policy was the first to include extended requirements for stormwater management beyond state requirements, but the inclusion paved the way for other municipalities to follow the example. The success of the amendment saw ministerial approval for several exhibited planning scheme amendments by the following Victorian councils seeking to address stormwater quality issues across the private domain:

  • Melbourne City Council
  • Port Phillip City Council
  • Yarra City Council
  • Stonnington City Council.

Permeable paving for stormwater management

The lessons

Given that the majority of development in the municipality was not captured by current policy, the council could make significant progress in stormwater management by extending its local policy requirements.  In the absence of statewide planning policy and improved building regulations, it was appropriate for councils to take a leadership role in local WSUD planning policy.

The Hearing Panel considered the amendment represented a proactive response by council to address an issue that had been earmarked in strategic policies since the 1990s, and to meet council’s obligations under the State Environment Protection Policy (SEPP).

Transferability

This example provides a pathway for other councils to follow in incorporating water sensitive urban design in the planning policy. Multiple Victorian councils have followed the City of Moonee Valley with similar amendments including City of Port Phillip, City of Stonnington, and the City of Melbourne.

The outcomes

Cities providing ecosystem services

  • Nuisance flooding:  Slows down or removes water discharge at local drainage.
  • Waterway health:  Improves the quality of stormwater runoff discharged to local waterways.
  • Integrated landscapes:  Reintegrates urban water into the landscape to facilitate a range of benefits including microclimate cooling and local habitat.

Cities as water supply catchments

  • Alternative water supplies:  Promote stormwater reuse.

Cities comprising water sensitive communities

  • Education:    Improves water literacy across communities (via supporting material for policy).
  • Clear governance:  Provides clarity and certainty to the community, through formalising the expectations that are required of planning applicants.
  • Policy compliance:  Achieves State Environment Protection Policy (SEPP) compliance (uptake of the policy is required to achieve SEPP).

Business Case

Costs Benefits
Estimated cost of installing water sensitive urban design (WSUD) measures in typical developments in the area to meet best practice objectives was approximately:

  • $4,100 for a single dwelling and dual occupancy dwelling
  • $3,900 - $6,927 for an extension to a single dwelling
  • $4,000 for a mixed-use development (commercial and retail)
  • $1,300 per unit for a multi-residential development.
  • Reduced pollutant loads entering local waterways and Port Phillip Bay with consequent environment, infrastructure and amenity benefits.
  • Reduce nuisance flooding.
  • Greater guidance and consistency in assessing planning applications within council.
  • Encouraging stormwater to be considered in the early stages of developments to achieve maximum benefits.
  • Greater stormwater management awareness to landowners.

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