Frequently asked questions

In planning terms, ‘character’ is a description of how distinctive and common features of an area come together to form a visual identity – put simply, it’s the look and feel of a place. For example, building height, building materials, landscaping, setbacks from boundaries and many more elements combine to form a local character.

Every residential area has its own character. An area’s character is not about how pleasant it looks; rather, it is more about the visual relationship between the private and public spaces.

Bayside has not revised its neighbourhood character regulations since 2011. It is important that these regulations are updated to ensure that they continue to encourage the most accurate and desired character in each location. While many features of neighbourhood character may remain the same, it must be acknowledged that Bayside is continually evolving. It is important that the preferred future character of each precinct is kept up to date in the Bayside Planning Scheme.

This is particularly important in growth areas, such as General Residential Zones (GRZs). These areas are mainly located within and around activity centres/shopping precincts and are designed to facilitate moderate growth within areas that are well connected to services, jobs and transport.

The Victorian Government has mandated that all areas in and around Melbourne (not just Bayside) must take their share of our state’s population growth. For Bayside this means an additional 7,500 homes by 2036. Much of this growth will be within General Residential Zones, which cover around 15% of Bayside.

Within General Residential Zones, there can be an obvious contrast in character between older housing stock that was built under a very different planning regulations and more recent additions designed to facilitate moderate growth. Character statements within schedules in the Bayside Planning Scheme will help to address and reduce this contrast.

A zone is a planning tool that controls how land can be used. There are different zones for different purposes. For example, a residential zone (such as the General Residential Zone) allows land to be used for mainly residential purposes (i.e. housing) whereas a commercial zone (such as the Commercial 1 Zone) allows land to be used for mainly commercial (i.e. business) uses.

A zone sets out:

- land uses that do not require a planning permit

- land uses that do require a planning permit

- land uses that are prohibited

A zone describes what matters a council must consider before deciding to grant a permit, what information must be submitted with a permit application, and information relating to land uses, the subdivision of land, construction of new buildings and other changes to the land.

A schedule can be added to a zone to apply controls that are specific to a certain area. In this case, all of Bayside’s General Residential Zoned land is split into nine different schedules. The schedules identify the location of each particular area and what specific requirements or standards will apply to development in that area. This can include:

  • character
  • building height
  • setbacks
  • site coverage
  • private open space
  • landscaping
  • fencing

A zone schedule can also specify information that applicants must provide with a new application, as well as matters unique to this area that must be taken into consideration when assessing permits in these zones.

This review is only about preferred future character. Mandatory maximum building heights and residential zone boundaries are not being changed.

There are three residential zones in place across the Bayside municipality.

1) Neighbourhood Residential Zone - The majority of Bayside (approximately 83%) is under the Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ) – one of the highest proportions of any Victorian municipality. This zone is designed for minimal growth with a mandatory two-storey height limit. Here, growth is likely to be limited to side-by-side townhouses.

The purpose of the Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ) is to manage and ensure development respects the identified neighbourhood character, heritage, environmental or landscape characteristics.

2) General Residential Zone – General Residential Zones are mainly located within and around Bayside’s activity centres/shopping precincts and are well connected to services, jobs and transport. Approximately 15% of Bayside is within a General Residential Zone.

The purpose of the General Residential Zone (GRZ) is to encourage a diversity of housing types and moderate housing growth. Development is also encouraged to respect the neighbourhood character of the area.

3) Residential Growth Zone – Only around 2% of Bayside is within a Residential Growth Zone. These areas are designed to provide housing at increased densities in locations offering good access to services, jobs and transport. More intensive / high-density development is permitted in Residential Growth Zones (RGZ) than General Residential Zones (GRZ).

Bayside’s General Residential Zones are located in the following locations:

  • Church Street Activity Centre
  • Bay Street Activity Centre
  • Martin Street Activity Centre
  • Hampton Street Activity Centre
  • Sandringham Village Activity Centre
  • Highett Activity Centre
  • Pennydale Activity Centre
  • Elsternwick Housing Growth Area
  • Cheltenham Housing Growth Area
  • Highett Activity Centre
  • Black Rock Activity Centre
  • Martin Street Activity Centre
  • Corner of Nepean Highway & North Road
  • Corner of St Kilda Street & Head Street

These locations have been identified as the best areas in Bayside to accommodate housing growth due to their close proximity to transport, services and jobs.

Please note the private golf course at the southern end of Bayside is also in a GRZ. However, this is controlled by Schedule 8 to the GRZ which specifies that it is a minimal residential growth area. Golf courses are not a part of the neighbourhood character review.

Some GRZs are not included in this consultation and review. Please see below for more information.

  • Highett Activity Centre
  • There is currently a Planning Scheme Amendment underway to implement the Highett Structure Plan, 2018 by introducing new residential zone schedules.

    The zone schedules include guidance for the future character, so there is no need for the General Residential Zones in Highett to be included in the review.

  • Private Golf Course (Royal Melbourne)
  • The private golf course at the southern end of Bayside is also in a GRZ. However, it is controlled by Schedule 8 to the GRZ which specifies that it is a minimal residential growth area. The golf course is not a part of this character review.

  • Black Rock Neighbourhood Activity Centre
  • The GRZ area in Black Rock is controlled by Schedule 6 to the GRZ, it is not part of this character review. There are only 12 parcels of land affected by the GRZ6.

    There is a Black Rock Neighbourhood Activity Centre Framework Plan which was written in 2009 and reviewed in July 2012. This already adequately outlines built form outcomes for this area.

  • Martin Street
  • The GRZ area in Martin Street is controlled by Schedule 9 to the GRZ, it is not part of this character review.

    Martin Street Structure Plan was competed in March 2016 and introduced into the Planning Scheme in September 2019 which already outlines the built form outcome for this area.

  • cnr Nepean Hwy and North Road
  • The south east corner of the Nepean Highway and North Road is a strategic redevelopment site, it is a gateway site, redevelopment is controlled by Schedule 7 of the General Residential Zone. GRZ7 only covers three sites in this location and it is not part of this character review.

  • cnr St Kilda Street and Head Street
  • The south east corner of the Nepean Highway and North Road is a strategic redevelopment site, it is a gateway site, redevelopment is controlled by Schedule 7 of the General Residential Zone. GRZ7 only covers one parcel of land at this location.

    The site is currently at the late stages of redevelopment as a three-storey apartment block, and there would be little value to include this in the review.

    Bayside’s neighbourhood character review is split into two separate processes, one for land in the General Residential Zone (GRZ) and one for land in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone (NRZ). This consultation is to establish preferred future character objectives for GRZ land, which is designed for moderate growth.

    Neighbourhood Residential Zones (NRZ) are designed for minimal/incremental growth. Community consultation on NRZ character is expected to occur in 2022 via the public exhibition of the NRZ amendment to the planning scheme. If you live within an NRZ, you will be notified when consultation begins.

    No. Protecting heritage is about retaining the fabric and setting of a valued building and place. Heritage significance cannot be improved even though the fabric of a place can be improved, restored or reinterpreted.

    On the other hand, protecting character is about ensuring future residential development respects / reflects the preferred character, which may be the existing built-form setting or one that is emerging in the area. Protecting character does not mean change cannot occur in the area. It just means the change needs to be managed so that development responds to, and strengthens, the sense of place in the area.

    The community engagement period in November-December 2021 on character in General Residential Zones (GRZs) is expected to lead into a planning scheme amendment to update and strengthen character outcomes across Bayside’s GRZ-zoned land. The new preferred character regulations are expected to be implemented through new zone schedules, specific to each neighbourhood character precinct.

    While new developments will be assessed against the new schedules, it is important to acknowledge that GRZs are housing growth areas where change is inevitable. The preferred character objectives won’t preserve the current character but instead will aim to capture the important elements that need to be captured and responded to through the transition to higher density developments.

    No. Council’s neighbourhood character review will not be changing existing building height controls.

    No. Council’s neighbourhood character review will not impact subdivision regulations.

    No. When implemented, the new neighbourhood character controls will only apply to new developments.


    Provide a short summary of your question.

    You have 150 characters left

    Provide detailed information relating to your question.

    You have 500 characters left

    Select a respondent from the list that you would most like to answer your question.

    Moderation Policy

    These are the people that are listening and responding to your questions.

    Strategic Planning

    {{ question.title }}

    {{ question.username }} asked

    {{question.description}}

    {{ answer.respondent.name }}
    | Edited

    Answer this question

    Select the respondent who will be marked as answering the question

    Provide the answer to the question. Answer can be saved as draft and published when complete.

    No questions found