This week the State Government introduced new regulations to limit the size of Melbourne city skyscrapers. The aim is to avoid excessive population density in the city.
The draft rules set a floor area ratio of 18:1, meaning a 1000 sq m site could have floor space of 18,000 sq m — or 18 storeys. Buildings exceeding that ratio would need to demonstrate special value to the city and developers may be able to offer community benefits such as a new park, public space within a building or affordable housing. The current street frontage minimum height will be reduced from 40m to 20m and there are new provisions on podium/tower set backs.The option to exchange height for community benefit is consistent with policies in other major global cities like Toronto and New York.
Last year it was announced that, as part of the new controls, Melbourne City Council will also be given a seat at the table in deciding applications for skyscrapers, becoming a formal referral authority for the first time since the early 1980s. A critical report completed earlier in 2015 year by a senior Melbourne City Council officer found that apartment towers in central Melbourne were being built at four times the maximum densities allowed in some of the world's most crowded cities. Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the city "welcomed with open arms" being made a referral authority that the planning minister would now be forced to consult. He congratulated the minister on the initiative.