Neighbourhood character

The importance of a proposal’s response to neighbourhood character

A development’s response to neighbourhood character is important in the consideration of all urban development within the Shire. This includes new single dwellings, medium density housing development and mixed use or residential development in the Shire’s designated activity areas.

Neighbourhood character is the combination of attributes on public and private land. Every property makes a contribution to the neighbourhood character of the area. Attributes of private and public land culminate to provide a piece of land, a street or an area with a context and a particular character.

The relationship between features of a neighbourhood is extremely important. Applicants should asks themselves which features of the area are important and why? How do these features contribute to the character of the area?

What neighbourhood characteristics should be identified and considered?

When identifying the neighbourhood character of an area, the following features should be considered:

  • Topography of the area
  • The existence of vegetation (native or exotic)
  • The width and depth of allotments
  • The size, height and number of dwellings on nearby lots
  • The front, side and rear setbacks of nearby dwellings on lots
  • The construction materials, finishes and paint colours of nearby dwellings
  • The architectural style of buildings (eg. roof form and pitch, porticos, verandas, size and shape of windows, eaves, entrances)
  • The location and size of private open space
  • The existence of front fences
  • The location of vehicle crossings and the types and location of car parking (eg. carport, single/double garage to the rear/front, underneath or built into the building)
  • Road and driveway treatments, including width, kerb and materials

Nillumbik’s neighbourhood character precincts

The Neighbourhood Character Policy at Clause 22.12 of the planning scheme applies to development (including subdivision) on land zoned Residential 1, Low Density Residential and Township within the Shire. Under this policy, land within the above mentioned zones have been grouped into seven different neighbourhood character precincts.

Each precinct contains a number of design objectives which are set out below (note that it is important that the actual policy be considered in its entirety, including all key characteristics and design responses, when preparing a planning application to develop and subdivide land within a particular precinct

  • Garden Court Precinct
    • Among other key characteristics, vegetative character includes occasional high canopy native trees combined with substantial exotic trees occurring at a density of 1:200 square metres
    • Design objectives
      • Maintain the existing mix of native and exotic vegetation including canopy trees and understorey
      • Maintain and enhance the continuous flow of the garden settings and the openness of the front boundary treatment
  • Bush Garden Precinct
    • Among other key characteristics, vegetative character includes significant native and indigenous tree canopy occurring at a density of 1:150 square metres
    • Design objectives
      • Retain remnant indigenous trees and continue enhancing the landscape setting with indigenous and Australian natives and understorey (where appropriate with other planning requirements including bushfire safety)
      • Maintain and enhance the continuous flow of the vegetation of the bush garden landscape
      • Design and site buildings which minimise the risk of loss in a bushfire and landscaping which minimises the spread and intensity of bushfires
  • Semi Bush Precinct
    • Among other key characteristics, vegetative character includes bushy vegetation with significant indigenous or native canopy trees occurring at a density of 1:50 to 1:100 square metres
    • Design objectives
      • Maintain the indigenous vegetation including canopy trees and understorey planting and encourage the replanting of indigenous plants
      • Minimise site disturbance and impact on the landform and vegetation
      • Minimise excavation for car access, impact on bush setting and visibility of access driveway and car storage facilities
      • Maintain and enhance the continuous flow of the landscape and vegetation and the bush character of the front garden vegetation
      • Design and site buildings which minimise the risk of loss in a bushfire and landscaping which minimises the spread and intensity of bushfires
  • Bush Precinct
    • Among other key characteristics, vegetative character includes significant indigenous vegetation with substantial trees occurring at a density of 1:50 to 1:100 square metres
    • Design objectives
      • Maintain the indigenous vegetation including canopy trees and understorey planting and encourage the replanting of indigenous plants (where compatible with other planning requirements including bush fire safety)
      • Minimise site disturbance and impact on the landform and vegetation
      • Minimise the visibility of buildings from the road
      • Minimise excavation for car access, impact on the bush setting and on the visibility of access driveway and car storage facilities
      • Maintain and enhance the continuous flow of the vegetation and existing landscape
      • Design buildings which minimise risk of loss in a bushfire and landscaping which minimises the spread and intensity of bushfires
  • Eltham Central Precinct
    • Among other key characteristics, vegetative character includes gardens of a mix of native and exotic vegetation with substantial trees occurring at a density of 1:200 square metres.
    • Design objectives
      • Maintain the existing mix of native and exotic vegetation including canopy trees and understorey
  • Rural Precinct
    • Among other key characteristics, vegetative character includes significant native and indigenous vegetation, with some exotics, and substantial trees occurring at a density of 1:50 to 1:100 square metres.
    • Design objectives
      • Maintain the indigenous vegetation including canopy trees and understorey planting and encourage the replanting of indigenous plants (where compatible with other planning requirements including bush fire safety)
      • Minimise site disturbance and impact on the landform and vegetation
      • Minimise the visibility of buildings from the road
      • Minimise excavation for car access, impact on the bush setting and on the visibility of access driveway and car storage facilities
  • Settlement Precinct
    • Among other key characteristics, vegetative character includes significant native and indigenous vegetation, with some exotics, and substantial trees occurring at a density of 1:50 to 1:100 square metres.
    • Design objectives
      • Maintain the indigenous vegetation including canopy trees and understorey planting and encourage the replanting of indigenous plants
      • Minimise site disturbance and impact on the landform and vegetation
      • Minimise excavation for car access, impact on the bush setting and on the visibility of access driveway and car storage facilities
      • Maintain and enhance the continuous flow of the landscape and vegetation and the bush character of the front garden vegetation
      • Design and site buildings which minimise the risk of loss in a bushfire and landscaping which minimises the spread and intensity of bushfires

For further guidance and assistance?

Council has prepared brochures for each precinct (and sub-precinct where applicable).

These brochures are available online at www.nillumbik.vic.gov.au by entering the search term ‘housing and character’ and locating your area as described in the Related Documents on the right-hand side of the page. Check the map on the brochure to ensure you are looking at the correct brochure for your property. To determine your relevant precinct or sub-precinct, and to obtain a brochure if you do not have internet access, please contact Council’s Planning Services Unit on 9433 3343.

This advice is to be used as a general guide only. Council has made all reasonable effort to ensure the information provided in this series is true and accurate. However, it is recommended that readers seek professional advice before acting or making decisions on the basis of this information. For any questions or clarification, please contact Council’s Planning Services Unit on 9433 3343.

Updated 2 February 2015