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Victorian Planning Reform: A Vision for 800,000 New Houses by 2034

In a bid to address the ever-growing need for housing, the Victorian Government has unveiled an ambitious plan with the announcement today of Victoria's Housing Statement. The state is setting its sights on constructing 800,000 much needed new residences over the next decade, aiming to usher in a new era of housing accessibility and affordability.

This housing reform initiative, while not a novel concept in urban planning, introduces a fresh perspective and a comprehensive approach to tackle the housing crisis head-on. The plan encompasses various strategies, including measures to safeguard renters' rights, social housing enhancements, and the implementation of a State-based short-term rental levy.

While the document provides an overarching vision for the years 2024 to 2034, it's important to note that many of the specific details regarding the proposed measures are yet to be disclosed. However, a notable emphasis has been placed on expediting project approvals and simplifying the planning process which is music to our ears!

One significant aspect of this reform is the expansion of the Planning Minister's authority to employ more assertive call-in measures. Supported by a team of 90 planners (although no clear indication of where these planners will come from given there is already a staff shortage), this initiative is geared towards clearing a backlog of 1,400 housing applications that have languished in Council planning departments for over six months.

Furthermore, the existing Development Facilitation Program is poised to undergo an expansion, with the Planning Minister assuming decision-making powers for medium and high-density residential developments, anticipated to accelerate approvals for approximately 13200 dwellings. This extension offers a streamlined four-month application timeframe for projects meeting specific criteria, including a construction cost of at least $50 million in Melbourne and $15 million in regional Victoria and a requirement for the inclusion of a minimum of 10 percent affordable housing. T

The plan also identifies ten activity centres throughout Victoria, including Broadmeadows, Camberwell Junction, Chadstone, Epping, Frankston, Moorabbin, Niddrie (Keilor Road), North Essendon, Preston (High Street), and Ringwood. These areas have been earmarked for reformed planning controls aimed at delivering an additional 60,000 dwellings. These centres are strategically located, benefitting from both existing and proposed infrastructure, and possess untapped potential to support more intensive development and population growth.

At a more community based level, the reforms also seek to simplify the process for homeowners. Granny flats below 60 square meters will no longer require a planning permit, streamlining the process for homeowners. Similarly, the need for a permit is being removed for works on single dwellings, including extensions to sheds and carports, noting there is no clear information on the exemptions to this, so we are interested to understand how this will work where overlays dictate planning requirements, such as the majority of the Mornington Peninsula Shire areas.

Several other planning reforms are on the horizon, including the introduction of New Deemed to Comply residential standards, legislative reforms addressing issues identified by the Red Tape Commissioner, rezoning of surplus government land across 45 sites to deliver approximately 9,000 dwellings, and modifications to apartment design standards.

While today's announcement is undoubtedly a significant step toward addressing the housing supply crisis, we eagerly await further details of the forthcoming planning reforms. It is essential to acknowledge that a holistic approach is necessary for achieving long-term success, with many other factors influencing housing delivery, not in the least being the current cost of building and materials, as well as staffing and trade shortages which are all ongoing issues.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this - do you think this is the reform Victoria needs? Is it enough? Too Much? Head over to our social media pages to join in the conversation.


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