Plan for bigger backyards

LARGER residential lots could be expected in future developments after Latrobe City Council initiated changes to dwelling density.

Due to an increase in development plan and planning permits resulting from 800 hectares of rezoned land in February 2011, council resolved during Monday night’s meeting to diversify its housing choices within the municipality including larger lots with new developments.

To avoid “vertical slums”, East Ward councillor Dale Harriman recommended land be subdivided into 11 lots per hectare, which he said would provide better living standards and help entice metropolitan residing families to move regional.

“Our planning department has been hindered by a Melbourne-centric view,” he said.

Despite the Local Planning Policy Framework not providing a specific lot per hectare density, the State Planning Policy Framework has a density target of 15 lots per hectare.

“We have a number of development plans coming in (and) we are enforcing 15 lots per hectare on the current land developments which is going to stymie growth,” Cr Harriman said.

“People are looking for the bigger blocks and will start looking at what is on offer in Wellington Shire and Baw Baw Shire because they are a more desirable size.”

Council will immediately begin recommending the 11 lots per hectare to developers, however official consideration of housing density will be included in the Latrobe Statutory Planning Scheme Review, earmarked to commence early 2013.

According to the officers report, part of their justification to include housing density was to assist in “streamlining the planning process and improve the performance” of the LSPS.

The officers’ risk assessment showed the proposal would assist in addressing the risks in relation to damage of council’s reputation and reduced community confidence.

In response to whether this was consistent with the current LSPS which recommends “smaller and more compact housing”, Cr Harriman said the larger lot would provide varied housing density within Latrobe City.

“I have spoken to a lot of developers, real estate agents and builders and discussed with them the problem with land availability in Traralgon,” Cr Harriman said.

“The preferred number of lots is 11 because it seems to work best.

“The developer can make money, the real estate agent can sell lots quickly and the builders are getting people wanting larger blocks because it is more desirable to have a backyard that fits a trampoline and a basketball hoop.”