In September this year, the Andrews government in Victoria introduced new height restrictions for buildings in Melbourne.
The restrictions, which are only temporary until permanent rules are introduced in 2016, have significantly reined in Melbourne’s skyscraper boom of recent years.
Rather than focussing on height in metres, the interim laws concentrate on density of space.
New buildings are now allowed a ratio of 24 square metres of total floor area for every one square metre of land. In other words, any developer wishing to build to the very edge of their block would only be allowed to build 24 storeys high.
These are the first density restrictions to be introduced in Melbourne, despite cities such as New York, Singapore and Hong Kong all enforcing them.
Of course, height restrictions are important not just for the look and feel of a city, but also for the flight paths.
To stay clear of aeroplanes, Melbourne buildings are usually restricted to between 228 metres and 315 metres, depending on the part of the city. Exceptions can be made to these heights, but will result in the flight path of planes being altered.
Elsewhere in the world, it’s not just planes and floor space density that affects building heights.
In Bali, buildings can’t be any taller than palm trees, which stand at about 15 metres. In Athens, buildings can’t surpass 12 floors lest they block the view of the Parthenon. Similarly, in St Petersburg, Russia, buildings must not surpass the Winter Palace.
Closer to home, Brisbane’s current height limit for the CBD is 274 metres, while Sydney’s is a comparatively moderate 235 metres. These numbers are often just guidelines, as exceptions can be made for buildings of ‘state significance’.
On the Gold Coast, a new draft City Plan proposes to remove height restrictions in the Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise areas – areas already been built up considerably during the 1980s and 1990s. However, certain parklands around Broadbeach and Southport’s Main Beach have been proposed as ‘no go zones’ for new skyscrapers.
Further north in Sydney earlier this year, the Parramatta Council was pushing for the introduction of a ‘no fly zone’, to make way for a proposed 500m-high residential tower.
Melbourne’s new permanent restrictions will be introduced in the second half of 2016, after a lengthy consultation with the public.
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