Yarra River Policies and Planning

View of the Yarra River

Yarra River Corridor Strategy (2015)

Yarra City Council has undertaken a major review of Planning Scheme provisions in the Yarra River corridor. At the Council meeting 2 June 2015 a report considered the draft Yarra River Corridor Strategy (which provides the strategic justification for proposed stronger mandatory height and set-back provisions along the Yarra River corridor in the City of Yarra).

At the meeting 2nd June 2015 Council decided to:

(a) seek authorisation to prepare a Planning Scheme amendment to implement the draft Strategy and the associated revised DDO1, ESO1 and related provisions; and

(b) request that the Minister for Planning introduce identical interim Planning Scheme provisions by way of a Ministerial amendment under Section 20 (4) of the Planning and Environment Act 1987, to ensure adequate protection while the full Planning Scheme amendment (in (a) above) is considered through the normal process.

The proposals would replace the current Design and Development Overlay – Schedule 1 (DDO1) and Environmental Significance Overlay – Schedule 1 (ESO1) with new stronger provisions. These would apply to the whole of the City of Yarra section of the Yarra River.

The Draft Strategy is in two volumes:

City of Yarra – Yarra River Corridor Strategy – Volume 1 : Main Report

City of Yarra – Yarra River Corridor Strategy – Volume 2 : Character Types

The proposed new DDO1 and ESO1:


There is a long history of plans and Planning Scheme provisions along the Yarra River corridor, in the City of Yarra sections and other urban sections of the River. In 2005 the Review of Policies & Controls for the Yarra River Corridor: Punt Road to Burke Road (2005) (DSE State Government – Planisphere) considered a wide range of issues including proposals for more consistent Planning Scheme provisions.

The Yarra Planning Scheme provisions include Environment Significance Overlay 1 (ESO1) and Design and Development Overlay 1 (DDO1). DDO1 was introduced in 2006 as a result of the Yarra Built Form Review 2003.

In response to a development which threatened the river corridor in the City of Boroondara, Amendment VC96 (October 2012) introduced new policy and controls along the Yarra River in Boroondara, opposite the City of Yarra. This introduced the first mandatory height provisions along the river.

Yarra City Council commenced work on the current Strategy in September 2013. The draft Strategy responds to a number of related initiatives since then. This includes the Middle Yarra River Corridor Strategy which progressed to a Draft Recommendations Report (July 2014). Those proposals deal with the Yarra River corridor between Darebin Creek confluence and Warrandyte and involve the municipalities of Banyule, Nillumbik and Manningham.

Plan Melbourne (2014) supported mandatory height and setback provisions to protect the Yarra River and other watercourses across Melbourne.

The State Government has committed to a Yarra River Protection Act and associated Trust. The scope of these initiatives has not been developed to date. Comments in the press recently, attributed to the Minister for Planning, include development of more consistent Planning Scheme provisions to better protect the River corridor.  

The City of Boroondara provisions were made permanent in January 2015.

The recent State budget committed $1 million to:

“(a)  “shield”  Melbourne’s iconic Yarra River against inappropriate development;

(b)  a dedicated trust will be established to set out tough planning controls to preserve the future of the 240 kilometre long river and help it recover from 180 years of misuse;

(c)  the Yarra River Protection Bill will also be introduced to establish clear rules around what can and cannot be built near the river, drawing on expert advice and input from the public; and

(d)  the first steps will include a discussion paper based on conversations with the community and an action plan to determine the river’s long term needs.”  (media release by the Minister for Planning, 5 May 2015).

Interim Planning Controls

Interim new DDO1 and ESO1 provisions were introduced in the Yarra Planning Scheme 14 January 2016. This was approved by the Minister for Planning at the request of Yarra City Council. These provisions apply until 31 December 2017. They provide temporary controls while new provisions are prepared by the State Government for the area from Punt Road, Cremorne to Warrandyte.

Group Amendment – Punt Road to Warrandyte

The State Government has indicated it will prepare a Group Amendment for all the Planning Schemes adjoining the Yarra River from Punt Road to Warrandyte. This will go through the normal exhibition and review processes. It is anticipated this Amendment will be exhibited in autumn 2016. Community and interest groups will be consulted as part of the exhibition process. 


Any action to implement the proposals in the Yarra Planning Scheme will include consultation and opportunities to make submissions about the proposals as part of a Planning Scheme Amendment process. 

Further Information
Peter Mollison
Senior Strategic Planner (part-time Monday, Tuesday and Friday)
9205 5023

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