Amendment C87 – Neighbourhood Character Areas – Past and Present

Following on from our previous post on Planning Scheme Amendment C87 – Neighbourhood Character Areas, the following presents the history and an outline of this amendment. But first some definitions are required. 


Neighbourhood character is the qualitative interplay of built form, vegetation and topographic characteristics, in both the private and public domains,  that make one place different from another.  The general attributes of private and public (street) realms (i.e. the building form and layout of the different areas; their overall streetscape qualities; the vegetation and landscape quality and the era of development) are all considered.

Significant Character Areas (SCA) – are those areas where the Neighbourhood Character is deemed to exhibit a particular quality that sets them apart from surrounding residential areas.  In the Glen Eira context, developmental controls are in the form of non-prescriptive guidelines, primarily aimed at restricting multiple dwelling development within the SCA boundaries.

Neighbourhood Character Overlay (NCO) –  The purpose of the NCO is to protect and encourage the preferred character of areas as the pressures for redevelopment continues to increase. It introduces a greater level of control in relation to the fundamental neighbourhood character by prescribing considerations of building height, form and setbacks, as well as more detailed issues such as building removal, material selection and vegetation removal.

Design and Development Overlay (DDO) – The purpose of the DDO is to identify areas which are affected by specific requirements relating to the design and built form of new development.  In the Glen Eira context, it will also protect the streetscape by prescribing consideration of front and/or side fencing in areas of Significant Neighbourhood Character by prescribing fence heights, style, materials and colour.


The current Planning Scheme Amendment C87 – Significant Character Areas (SCA) has it’s origins way back 2002.  Over the past decade council has had opportunities to adopt more the prescriptive NCO, as recommended by two independent State Government appointed Planning Panels rather than continue with the SCA guidelines.

Each amendment divided residents and raised contentious issues. Each time council rejected the Planning Panel recommendations. Now ten years later when development has become rampant throughout the municipality and all areas are “endangered” Council is revisiting something that could/should have been  decided in 2002.


The commencement of the introduction of NCOs  is raised in Council Minutes 1st September, 2009  – Section 8.8, Part 4 Overview states  “An NCO protects all buildings/dwellings and development through the need for a planning permit. … The Minister will not approve Amendment C56 which sought to only control multi dwellings.”   Amendment C87  is the next step in introducing the Neighbourhood Character Overlay (NCO) and the Design and Development Overlay (DDO).

Unfortunately, the SCA’s have not fared very well over the past 10 years – the current Planisphere Report (entitled C87 – Final Report) and Appendix B (use the Planisphere Report link – entitled C87 – Appendix B – Areas of Significant Neighbourhood Character ) indicates

  •  The four SCA’s to be removed, while still retaining some “fine examples” of their original dwelling stock, have experienced “modern overbuilding that has seen substantial change to its architecture styles and building forms. The range of development, with its mixed base and extensive overbuilding leave a neighbourhood character that is not consistent or distinct from surrounding residential areas”.

Please note the Planisphere Report suggests reclassifying all SCA’s removed as Housing Diversity Areas (i.e. high density areas), however, the C87 Explanatory Report (use the above Planisphere Report link – entitled C87 – Explanatory Report) suggests these areas may be reclassified as minimal change areas or housing diversity areas.  Since the C87 documentation is not clear on the reclassification issue, impacted residents are urged to contact Council for clarification. 

  • The original 11 SCA’s  identified as exhibiting highly significant neighbourhood character due to the relative intactness of the original dwellings and the consistency of its key character elements are now described as “where building alterations” or “modern infill development is evident, it is generally respectful” and the areas remain distinct from surrounding residential areas.  “Non contributory properties” will be excluded from the NCO in some areas.

Again impacted residents are urged to carefully review C87 documentation, particularly the Council provided NCO and DDO overlay maps, (use the above Planisphere Report link – to access the relevant NCO and DDO maps) and contact Council if clarification is needed. 

Please note that three of the original SCA’s have been split, as streets within the area are considered to have different architectural styles and therefore warrant separate/different controls.  The areas split are

    • Downshire Road Area and St. James Parade Area, Elsternwick
    • Exhibition and Field Streets, McKinnon
    • Queens Avenue and Derby Crescent, Caulfield East – The streets connecting Queens Avenue and Derby Crescent will be removed from SCA classification as “new developments undertaken in these adjoining streets have lowered the significance of those areas and did not warrant  protection”. 

Please also note that one side of Craigavad Street is to be excluded from McPherson Avenue, Carnegie, SCA.   This one side of Craigavad Street has a “lower degree of consistency than the other streets of the area. Most original dwellings in Craigavad Street have imposing second storey additions, and other sites support non-contributory buildings”. 

  • The three new SCA’s (Murrray Street, Prentice Street, Kambea Grove) are generally described as having a relatively intact streetscape with many of the original buildings remaining and well preserved.  While “later overbuilding has occurred, these have generally been respectful of the established neighbourhood character” and the areas are distinct from surrounding residential areas.

Please note that not all properties in any of these 3 streets will be included in the NCO – in each street “non-contributory buildings” are to be excluded.  Again impacted residents are urged to carefully review C87 documentation, particularly the Council provided NCO and DDO overlay maps (use the above Planisphere Report link – to access the relevant NCO and DDO maps), and contact Council if clarification is needed. 

Given, the 10 years that it’s taken for Council to act on the NCO recommendation, it will be interesting to see how quickly/slowly Glen Eira Council acts on the Planisphere recommendations (and presumably the forthcoming C87 Planning Panel recommendations) for Heritage Overlay controls on

  • The Highway, East Bentleigh
  • Queens Avenue, Caulfield East
  • Derby Crescent, Caulfield East
  • St. James Parade, Elsternwick
  • Downshire Road, Elsternwick
  • Oakdene Crescent, Murrumbeena
  • Murray Street, Elsternwick
  • Prentice Street, Elsternwick
  • Kambea Grove, Caulfield North

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