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Planning changes will change Geelong forever

Three-storey residential development will be forced upon more than 40 per cent of the Greater Geelong landscape under new planning controls recently announced by the Andrews Government.

Liberal Member for Western Victoria, Simon Ramsay, has told the Victorian Parliament that areas of Geelong, once loved for their character, will change forever.

“Under the Plan Melbourne refresh, the Minister has destroyed neighbourhood areas protected against over development and high-density housing.

“Worse still, there will no longer be a cap on how many dwellings can be built on a block”, Mr Ramsay said.

Under the previous Liberal Government, three residential zones were created to protect the values and potential of different neighbourhoods.  These zones were the:

  • Residential Growth Zone (RGZ) – enabled new housing and diversity, the
  • General Residential Zone (GRZ) – preserved urban character but enabled modest housing growth and diversity, height limit of 9 metres, and the
  • Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ) – restricted housing growth in areas identified for urban preservation, height limit of 8 metres.

GRZ’s cover more than 40 per cent of the City of Geelong.  The new height limit for GRZ’s will go from 9 metres to 11 metres, enabling three storey developments.  The height limit will increase from 8 to 9 metres in NRZs.

“This strikes at the heart of the urban character and liveability of Geelong – and gives a green light to high density development without consultation with the community.

“Groups such as the Newtown Action Group are horrified by the Plan Melbourne document – especially the removal on the cap on the number of dwellings allowed to be built per block,” said Mr Ramsay.

The Group’s Vicki Baensch said the news is sad.

“So much for restricting housing growth in areas of recognised neighbourhood character.  Sadly, bad news for residents and great news for developers,” she said

The Group said new minimum-garden areas in NR and GR Zones are smaller than the rule that is currently in many places, so suburbs will lose – not gain – green space.

“The State Government has misled the public.  It is an outright attempt to densify the middle suburbs without any regard to existing infrastructure, neighbourhood character and amenity,” Ms Baensch said.

Mr Ramsay said the Andrew’s Government’s new plan smacks of hypocrisy.

“During the last State election, then candidate – now Member for Geelong – Cristine Couzens – joined a group called the Geelong West Residents Action Group.

“Through that group, she ran a scare campaign about potential skyscrapers being built in Geelong West under a Liberal Government.

“Truth is, it was the Liberal Government that protected Geelong from these developments and it is Christine Couzens and her Labor comrades that have swung the door wide open to high-rise, high-density development,” said Mr Ramsay.

“Come the next election, I think Geelong voters might just remember that”.