What to keep in mind with the new garden area requirements

In 2017 the Victorian government jettisoned a new development requirement called the ‘Garden Area’.

This took many by surprise but no more then developers that only just purchased sites that were always big enough for 3 units. Unfortunately, with the new requirement this reduced the yield to 2.

Understanding the garden area is actually quite easy, but knowing its impact prior to its release was nothing sort of catastrophic to those who overpaid on a site and having numbers done on more then what can now work.

The minimum garden area requirement specifies the percentage of a lot that must be set aside to ensure the open garden character of suburbs is protected. A dwelling or residential building, including any associated driveway and car parking cannot be included in the area set aside as garden area. Where does it apply? The minimum garden area requirement applies to land in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone and General Residential Zone and must be met when: • constructing or extending a dwelling or a residential building; or • subdividing land to create a vacant residential lot less than 400 square metres in area.

How much garden area must be provided? When subdividing land that creates a vacant lot that is capable of being developed for a dwelling or a residential building in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone or General Residential Zone, 25 percent must be set aside as garden area on each vacant lot created that is less than 400 square metres in area. When constructing or extending a dwelling or a residential building in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone or General Residential Zone the size of the existing lot determines the minimum percentage of the lot that must be set aside as garden area.

Lot size Minimum percentage of a lot set aside as garden area

400 – 500 sqm 25%
Above 500 – 650 sqm 30%
Above 650 sqm 35%
How is garden area defined? Garden area is defined in Clause 72 of all planning schemes as: Garden area Any area on a lot with a minimum dimension of 1 metre that does not include: a) a dwelling or residential building, except for:

• an eave, fascia or gutter that does not exceed a total width of 600mm;
• a pergola;
• unroofed terraces, patios, decks, steps or landings less than 800mm in height;
• a basement that does not project above ground level;
• any outbuilding that does not exceed a gross floor area of 10 square metres; and • domestic services normal to a dwelling or residential building; b) a driveway; or c) an area set aside for car parking.

Why are some buildings, works and hard surface areas allowed to be included in the garden area? The minimum garden area requirement allows the construction of buildings and works that are typically associated with the use and enjoyment of the outdoor areas of a dwelling or residential building. Consequently, outbuildings and structures such as garden sheds, covered barbeque areas, swimming pools, tennis courts and paved areas including pathways and outdoor entertaining areas can be included in the garden area.

Work-Life balance

Lately a great many articles and posts on Work Life Balance have made the rounds…

I have my own theory on this, which I am most will realise is made of bits and pieces from reading these posts.

The entire idea of WLB stems from those who work 9 – 5 but in all honesty are out of the house from 7:30 – 6:30. By the time you get home, most of our kids are ready for bed and by the time you are home, you are so tired that all you can think about is having dinner and getting that remote in your hand with your feet up.

The idea has been flagged of having reduced working hours in a day. Say 5 hours in lieu of 8. This sounds fantastic, let’s be honest. The idea is that using this strategy gives workers more energy and increases productivity. Sounds good. But how would your pay structure work? Will your pay stay the same or will it decrease accordingly? Let’s be straight here. Most businesses don’t care about how much you do before lunch, its more about doing as much in the allocated hours, and even then, it might not be good enough. So, I can’t see your boss paying you the same amount of money in a 25 hour week as they do in a 40 hour week. That’s even if you do the same amount of work.Will you be taking less money for working less hours? Hell no. Why would you take a financial hit so you can work less but much harder.There is only a small amount of jobs where you can work some days from home. Some of us and I included have the privilege of taking 30 steps from my bed to get to work. But this isn’t possible for 95% of the population. 10% might work within a 5km radius of your jobs but most need to either drive or take a train. And then there is all that horrendous peak hour traffic.

So what is the solution? Seriously I am asking that question for those of you who do need to get up every day and commute.
In Australia as great a country as it is, we all work like dogs. Most work ourselves into the ground till you are forced out on stress leave or die from an early heart attack.
In my reading I have found that the best work-life balance countries are all in Europe. No surprise there, but it’s how they structure it that is most important.
Out of all of these places, Denmark is the benchmark. Rhyme intended.
Denmark balances salary against cost of living well, and average daily work hours (6.6 per day) way outnumber leisure hours (8.8 per day). No surprise there – this is the home country of hygge, after all. According to US News & World Report, this is also the best country in the world for raising children. Both mothers and fathers are entitled to 23 weeks of parental leave, plus mothers get an extra four weeks of leave before the expected due date.
In Australia you need to “qualify” for such privileges. Those who work hard for a better life get nothing and those who chose to sponge off society get the red-carpet treatment. This MUST change.

What type of development works for your site

I receive a lot of enquiries regarding a sites potential development. What was possible 2 years ago isn’t possible today.

With new zoning laws and garden area requirements sites do not have the potential they once did. So, what are the best options?Sites over 650sqm used to fit a decent 3 unit development on them. 1x 3 bedroom townhouse, 1×2 bedroom townhouse and a 2 bedroom single storey unit.

Today this is no longer possible. You can potentially get 3 tiny dog boxes or as I am encouraging my clients, go for 2 well planned side by sides.These have more creative possibilities and space to play and live in.Sites over 750sqm have 3 unit possibilities, but again that depends on a lot of things going your way.

How is the blocks orientation?
What is the zoning for the property?
What does the zoning schedule say in terms of open space requirements?
Are the neighbouring front setbacks good enough for what you are proposing?
Do the neighbours have windows within close proximity of the fence?
Do your neighbours have north facing windows?
Are their units next door that your proposed shadow may affect?
All these sorts of issues can and most likely will come up.
Our job is to make sure we satisfy councils requirements and also not affect the neighbours.
I love this simple line; More isn’t always more.
When it comes to building just 1 dwelling in the rear of an existing, people view the space much differently then what is actually possible.
I get enquiries almost on a weekly basis of people wanting to fit a unit in the rear of their homes.
Issue here is that it also depends on how many bedrooms you currently have, how much space is available for the side driveway for a car to pass and most importantly, do you have the room to fit another home.
A rule of thumb would be a minimum of 3m to the side and 20m to the rear.
Without these 2 things, you just have a nice size backyard.