What is a Design and Development Overlay (DDO)?

A Design and Development Overlay (DDO) is a planning tool that is applied to areas such as activity centres like precincts and shopping strips that need specific requirements to guide the built form and design of new development.

The scale and density of developments approved and currently being proposed in Yarra’s activity centres has increased substantially in recent years. That’s why we’re using Design and Development Overlays to help guide these potential future developments within the activity centres.

In Yarra, DDOs generally try to achieve a balance between allowing new development and it needing to be sensitive towards heritage buildings, existing houses and backyards and avoiding overshadowing of public spaces like footpaths and parks.

All DDOs still have to comply with other parts of the planning scheme, such as Yarra’s heritage, urban design and sustainable design policies.

What a DDO can do

A DDO can include built form and design requirements that are mandatory or preferred. A mandatory requirement is a requirement that must be met. There is no opportunity to vary it. For example you can’t build a six-storey building in an area where a mandatory height of five storeys applies.

What a DDO can't do

It is important to note that the main purpose of a DDO is to provide built form and design guidance for development within a particular area.

A Design and Development Overlay cannot:

  • act as a heritage control
  • manage land use
  • change property zones
  • address other issues such as shop vacancies or housing affordability
  • address traffic management concerns
  • alter or increase public open space, or
  • alter or increase public transport services.

Not at the moment. Yarra currently has several interim DDOs that are already in the planning scheme. These apply to live planning permit applications and any future planning permit applications, until the permanent DDOs are introduced into the Yarra Planning Scheme.

The other tools in the Planning Scheme will continue to apply. For example, if your property is also covered by a Heritage Overlay, these requirements would remain in place and also need to be taken into account when preparing a planning permit application.

No. The proposed DDOs generally do not apply to public housing estates.

For more information on projects that directly impact the public housing properties please check Homes Victoria.

A DDO can only focus on built form and design aspects and cannot act as a heritage control. Within the Victorian Planning System, it is the role of the Heritage Overlay to protect local heritage.

However, the content of a DDO is often informed by rigorous analysis and testing of a combination of urban design, heritage, and traffic matters.

Many of Yarra’s DDOs also contain objectives and requirements to ensure new development responds sensitively towards heritage buildings and streetscape. A DDO can include overall building heights or setbacks for upper level parts of a proposed building above a heritage building, which help to ensure that new development is separate from the below and/or adjoining heritage building.

Further information explaining what a DDO does can be found in our General DDO Information Sheet.

The exhibited DDOs include a mix of mandatory and preferred requirements. Mandatory requirements must be met and cannot be changed. If a proposed design does not meet a mandatory request; a planning permit cannot be granted.

A discretionary (or preferred) requirement allows for flexibility. A proposed design may meet some or all of the preferred requirements, however a planning permit can be granted even if the preferred requirement/s are not all met.

Most of Yarra's DDOs contain a mix of preferred and mandatory requirements.

The Victorian Planning system prefers the use of preferred requirements as they provide flexibility to respond to local context and unique urban conditions of a site or an area.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has developed a series of planning practice notes to provide guidance on the appropriate use of mandatory and preferred requirements. For further information please check PPN59 and PPN60.

Mandatory requirements are applied only when they are seen as 'absolutely necessary' to achieve the preferred built form outcome or where 'exceptional circumstances' warrant their introduction. Introduction of any mandatory requirements must be based on strong and comprehensive strategic work.

The interim DDOs are temporary and have an expiry date. In Yarra, interim DDOs have been introduced to manage development in certain areas that are under high development pressure to provide higher levels of certainty. An interim DDO can follow a shorter amendment process and is usually used to fill a gap in the scheme relatively quickly.

Permanent DDOs are prepared and progressed through a longer planning scheme amendment process than an interim DDO, including public exhibition and public hearings by an independent panel or committee. A permanent DDO does not have an expiry date.

Based on a request by Yarra City Council, the Minister for Planning established the Yarra Activity Standing Advisory Committee to provide for a more efficient process to amend Yarra’s planning scheme and introduce permanent DDOs. For more information regarding the draft amendment process under the Standing Advisory Committee please refer to the Yarra Activity Centres Standing Advisory Committee - Information Sheet.

Feedback we receive at this time will not be made public.

Once we commence the official amendment process (in early 2023), all formal submissions and other information presented throughout that process (including the Hearing), will be treated as public documents.

Please carefully read the Privacy Collection Notice.

Please note that Council will not publish personal information about an individual that can make them identifiable without the individual’s consent. Once we have received all the submissions, every submitter will be given a unique number and this number will be referenced in all public documents.

If a submission requires changes to any specific properties, the property address will be published without consent. This is required to understand the matter being considered.

Even though personal information will not be published it is important to note that submissions with no contact details are not accepted.

These details are needed by Council and the Committee to ensure the submissions are genuine and to contact submitters throughout the process.

The stage we are currently at is before the Authorisation stage (step 1) in the diagram above. Before the formal planning scheme amendment process begins, we are asking for community feedback on the interim Design and Development Overlays.

We want to know whether you think these interim controls should become permanent controls.

We will then begin the process of introducing the DDOs into the Yarra Planning Scheme, which will include an opportunity for community members to provide further comments on the proposal.