The recent case between Save the Dandenong’s League Inc & Ors v Yarra Ranges SC (corrected) [2021] VCAT 478 highlights how the planning system encourages a diversity of household types within Melbourne in recognition of changes to cultural and social dynamics.

In this case, Council approved a single dwelling comprising 11 bedrooms, a single kitchen and associated living areas located in Narre Warren in Melbourne’s south-east.

The decision was appealed by objectors raising concerns about the ‘intent’ of the large dwelling and sought clarification as to what constitutes a ‘single residence’ within the planning scheme.

The planning expert witness for the appellant discussed that a ‘residence’ and ‘house’ refers to a single nuclear family and that extended families is not commonly understood as constituting a single dwelling household.

The Tribunal ultimately determined to overturn the appellants case and reaffirm the decision of Council and stated the following:

  • Irrespective of the number of bedrooms or living areas, a dwelling is classified as a single residence if it contains only one kitchen.
  • The definition of a single dwelling has no correlation with the number of occupants or their relationship with each other. There is no requirement of a nuclear family structure within a single residence.
  • Housing is made up of various familial and social relationships and the planning system encourages dwelling diversity to suit the needs of all residents.

With 1 in 5 Australians now living in multigenerational households as of 2020 (UNSW City Futures Research Centre, 2020), it is clear that residential development must continue to respond to the emerging demand from some parts of the community for larger shared housing options.

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