Amendment C278 seeks to protect winter sunlight access to parks in Melbourne (excluding the Central City) and is proposed to be implemented through an updated Sunlight to Public Space Policy and a new Design and Development Overlay (DD08). Council resolved to adopt the Amendment and submit it to the Minister for Planning for approval.

Research shows that access to sunlight is one of the most fundamental factors which attracts people to gather in public spaces and parks during winter. According to Cancer Council Victoria, over 50% of Victorians are deficient in Vitamin D during this time of the year. As Melbourne’s inner growth intensifies, there has been a growing concern over the ever-increasing height of developments and the resultant significant winter shadow cast onto surrounding Melbourne parks.

On the 17th of August this year, the City of Melbourne Councillors considered the final version of Amendment C278, Sunlight to Public Parks at the Future Melbourne Committee meeting.

The key policy changes of the amendment to the Melbourne Planning Scheme are as follows:

  • Clause 22.02 (Sunlight to Public Spaces) will be amended to include guidance for the consideration of the impact of additional overshadowing on the amenity quality and usability of the public space.
  • A new Design and Development Overlay (Schedule 8) will be introduced which will place controls on development that has the potential to overshadow parks. The DDO8 is to contain mandatory controls prohibiting additional shadow onto parks in winter between 10am and 3 pm.
  • shift from using equinox-based controls to measure shadowing to winter solstice-based controls and will expand hours of sunlight protection from 11 am - 2 pm to 10am - 3 pm.
  • Parks will no longer be protected through a hierarchical approach and will instead be protected equally regardless of their size and function.

A vast majority of the responses from the public exhibition of the amendment were in support of protecting sunlight access to parks, however some submissions raised concerns for the impact of the amendment on the development potential of growth areas.

This mixed response clearly highlights the balance that planners must strive to achieve between the protection of public amenities in a way that does not unreasonably restrict development potential. We believe that this amendment is a fair and equitable response that will protect a finite and ever increasingly valued public resource.

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