To shadow or not to shadow, that is the question

New overshadowing requirements proposed for the City of Melbourne’s parkland
Image: Lincoln Square, Carlton


The City of Melbourne is proposing to dramatically extend the protection of sunlight access to the Municipality’s extensive parkland, located outside of the Hoddle Grid and Southbank, from overshadowing. This reform could have potentially significant implications for the redevelopment of land located adjacent to and in proximity to existing public parks.

On 15 May 2018, at the Future Melbourne Committee, Council unanimously resolved to seek authorisation from the Minister for Planning to prepare and exhibit Amendment C278 to the Melbourne Planning Scheme.

Amendment C278 would further protect sunlight access to Melbourne’s public parks, by imposing a new mandatory winter solstice overshadowing test. The land directly impacted by the amendment is either not currently affected by any specific controls limiting shadowing of existing public parks or, where such controls do currently exist, the existing measurement period is the less onerous spring equinox.

Key components of the Council’s proposal controls are:

  • a mandatory ‘no additional overshadowing’ control proposed during the hours of 10am to 3pm, with an emphasis on extending the current approach adopted in the CBD and Southbank of maintaining good winter sunlight access to the balance of the Council’s parks; and
  • the proposed controls identify different requirements for built form on land within ‘close proximity’ to the three (3) different types of parks in the Municipality.


Image credit: Sunlight access to public parks modelling analysis report, Prepared for the City of Melbourne, February 2018 p.11


The Council is concurrently requesting the Minister for Planning prepare and approve another amendment (Amendment C340) that will impose these new mandatory overshadowing controls on an interim basis, without the usual public exhibition process. The proposed permanent controls will be subject to a separate and subsequent formal public exhibition process.

Critically, transitional provisions for existing permit applications are not currently proposed in the new controls. Should the Minister approve Amendment C340, all existing and new planning permit applications will need to comply with the new control.

This represents a seismic shift in expectations. Traditionally, the winter shadowing test has been reserved almost exclusively for open spaces/parkland of State and regional significance. The amendments would see these higher order amenity protections extended to all the Municipality’s public parks. 


Image credit: Sunlight access to public parks modelling analysis report, Prepared for the City of Melbourne, February 2018 p.38

The potential benefits of Council’s proposal are obvious; the amenity offered by existing and future parkland - including appropriate access to sunlight – will be essential to maintaining and enhancing the City’s liveability. Equally, as Melbourne’s population grows so will the strategic imperative to house and employ a greater number of people within the existing Metropolitan boundaries, in popular CBD fringe locations, in a denser and more sustainable urban form. 

Has the amendment struck the right balance between accommodating sustainable future growth and protecting the amenity of parkland? Has the impact of the new controls on broader metropolitan strategic planning policy objectives been properly considered, assessed and understood?

It is hoped that the Minister of Planning, in considering the Council’s requests, will provide the community with an opportunity to fully and rigorously test the implications of the Council’s proposal – both the positive and the negative.

For more information or advice on how the Council’s proposed controls may impact land affected by the amendments, please contact Elle Harrington or your existing SJB Planning contact.

Council Full Report


T: +613 8648 3500  

Image: Argyle Square, Carlton
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