Certainty in a ‘new normal’ green lights 10-storey Boronia development

A 10-storey Boronia could be the future with plan passed through council. Picture: ON FILE.

By Tanya Steele

A new normal with some control has been decided as the best option for the urban landscape of Boronia.

Ten story heights have been green-lit by the Knox Council after lengthy discussion at its recent meeting.

The Council endorsed the Boronia Renewal Strategy 2024 and planning scheme amendment C192knox with changes regarding Bambury Street on 27 May.

Knox Council Mayor and Chandler Ward Councillor Jude Dwight said the Boronia renewal strategy had been a huge body of work commencing more than eight years ago.

“It does identify opportunities for growth and development within the major activity centre,” she said.

“There is also an emphasis on investment in community infrastructure and services.”

Amendment C192knox seeks to implement the objectives and strategies of the Boronia Renewal Strategy 2024 by applying local policies, changes to zones and overlays to the original Knox planning scheme.

The new design and development overlay – Schedule 10 will affect three areas labelled Precincts 1, 2 and 3 of the major activity centre in Boronia – adding areas north and south of the original proposition.

Mayor Dwight said the Boronia renewal strategy has been an important strategic document for the council identifying big move projects that are expected to catalyse investment within that activity centre.

“Those projects are things such as the brand new train station precinct concept, the Boronia new park precinct master plan, Dorset Square Town Centre, multipurpose hub and the green spine corridor,” she said.

Mayor Dwight said that she is a member of the Boronia Revitalisation Board and through that avenue the council has also been successful in obtaining State Government grant funding to support co-funded investments in Boronia.

“The state government’s attention is on meeting housing targets and focusing development in activity centres,” she said.

“We have been able to get support for mandatory heights as opposed to discretionary ones which will leave a lot of uncertainty around the development in Boronia.”

Mayor Dwight said the decision to draw the activity centre boundary down the middle of Bambury and Elsie Streets was poorly thought through in her mind.

“That’s what’s been brought to light as this renewal strategy has progressed,” she said.

“It’s become obvious that there are quite drastic, unintended consequences for the area – because of that decision for residences has been an ongoing issue for over seven years and my preference would be that they have this situation resolved by moving this motion tonight.”

Baird Ward Cr Yvonne Allred said she had come to understand the potential risks of not adopting this at the meeting.

“I would encourage anyone interested particularly those who did engage with the consultation to read through this report,” she said.

“There are many sections throughout the document that address the concerns regarding building heights specifically.”

Cr Allred said the panel appointed by the planning minister has supported the provision of mandatory heights of 10 storeys for the centre to protect the views where they have been set and at the same time allow for additional growth.

“This provides this council with the best level of control possible that will ensure certainty for the community about the scale of development that we may see in the distant future,” she said.

Tirhatuan Ward Cr Nicole Seymour said she would particularly like to separate out the adoption of the Boronia renewal strategy from the adoption of C192 place and even Bambury Street.

“In principle, I am happy with the Boronia renewal strategy and 100 per cent support your position on Bambury, but if it has to be linked together and push me into a corner where it’s a matter of voting to support all or nothing, then I’m going to go with nothing,” she said.

“I am not convinced that density of up to 10 storeys in height on those four corners is reasonable at all.”

Cr Seymour compared the Boronia development to high-density living in the Dandenong area.

“My primary concern is as civic leaders, we should be trying to build neighbourhoods and civic precincts that are exemplary in terms of liveability and accessibility. And I’m not convinced that this decision will achieve that,” she said.

Dobson Ward Cr Meagan Baker said that she would not be supportive and had some concerns also.

“The 10 storey heights and the four corners of Boronia and Dorset road and its visual amenity in the proximity of the view lines of the foothills of the daily logs in principle based on the report line,” she said.

In support of the motion, Collier Ward Cr Marcia Timmers-Leitch said the council needed to have a key strategic plan for this area and felt confident in the team which had been guiding this process for a long time.

“We have done what we can to get the best outcome,” she said.

Dinsdale Ward Cr and Deputy Mayor Sarina Grasso said she would definitely be supporting the alternative as did Friberg Ward Cr Susan Laukens.

“I know that when we first started the 10 storeys was quite an overwhelming thought,” she said.

“It allows certainty that we will not go any higher.”

“The planners can actually, like they said, have greater control in having design outcomes that actually really support that space.”

Taylor Ward Cr Darren Pearce said he was also supportive and said having some control in the process was a positive.

“Ten stories, an activity area and heavy rail – that’s going to be the new normal in Melbourne,” he said.

“We’re going to be having this pressure everywhere in Melbourne due to the chronic residential housing shortage we’re now experiencing.”

Scott Ward Cr Lisa Cooper said she would love to support the alternate but there was one section that she couldn’t move past.

“The remaining properties yet to be developed would be unfairly disadvantaged by their inclusion in the NRZ1 while surrounding properties have been redeveloped over time change, changing the prevailing character,” she said.

“That is such an unfair position to be putting those residents in when there’s barely any difference in the outcomes visually.”

Mayor Dwight said the alternative was really about getting closure and certainty.

“It has been a really, really difficult process to even to get to this point,” she said.

When voted as proposed the alternative motion was carried for the C192.

Council adopted the strategy and Planning Scheme Amendment C192knox on 27 May.