Another challenging year for all of us is almost at an end. I would like to thank all of our partners for their continued resilience and collaboration.
I would like to outline some of our big achievements, along with improvements to our approach, that will set us up to deliver more and better outcomes as we move through 2022.
Setting our direction as an organisation: VPA Strategic Plan
In August this year we released our new Strategic Plan that sets our course in shaping the incredible changes happening across urban Victoria and affirms our role in supporting our state’s economic recovery.
We are prioritising a leadership role in planning areas of state and regional significance to plan for prosperous, sustainable and liveable communities.
Our strategic plan has a focus on density done well, suburban and regional jobs and housing, aligning development and infrastructure, and growing regional cities and towns.
Continuing to deliver: Fast Track and other projects
The VPA’s Fast Track Program was sponsored by the Minister for Planning and the Treasurer in mid-2020 as an immediate response to the economic challenges of post pandemic recovery.
2021 has been a very successful year for the program and we have now completed work on nine projects, with approval of three projects expected soon. So far, our work on the Fast Track program will deliver plans that will unlock land for 28,000 future houses, 27,000 future jobs and $7b in economic value to support post-COVID economic recovery. The last seven Fast Track projects are targeted for completion in 2022.
During the year the VPA concluded work on all the uncoupled ICPs, with approval of the final uncoupled ICP (for Sunbury South and Lancefield Road) anticipated early next year.
We appreciate the support from key partners as we double down on delivering the VPA Business Plan for 2021/22.
Raising the bar: New PSP Guidelines
In November the Minister for Planning launched the updated Precinct Structure Planning Guidelines: New Communities in Victoria.
The next generation of the VPA’s precinct structure plans will focus on creating accessible, walkable, medium-density, mixed-use new communities that can adapt and respond to changes like climate change or a pandemic.
Some of the noticeable differences will be a focus on greater housing diversity and a mandated 30 percent tree canopy for these new precincts to improve liveability standards and reduce the ‘heat island effect’.
The new guidelines will also guide the preparation of PSPs in regional Victoria, and will ensure that local variations preserve and enhance the distinctive character of our regional cities and towns.
This new approach will raise the bar for Victoria’s new communities.
Unlocking growth and improving processes: Streamlining for Growth (SfG) Program
The Government will shortly announce the latest round of grants and projects to be delivered under our very successful SfG Program, which focuses on projects that unlock and accelerate the delivery of permit-ready employment and residential land in growth areas across the state.
The program also supports important system and process improvements in planning such as those included in the Planning and Building Approvals Process Review from Better Regulation Victoria. Demand for the program continues to be strong, with 48 councils lodging applications for $6.1 million in funding in the 2021-2022 funding round.
We are anticipating the announcement of successful applications in February 2022.
More connected communities: Supporting better infrastructure decisions
The VPA has also ramped up the quality and timeliness of information we provide to Government on the infrastructure implications of our PSPs and continued to facilitate early access to land for infrastructure.
We provide information to Government on the requirements for state-provided infrastructure of every completed VPA PSP. This is in addition to the detailed information and charging arrangements that each PSP sets out for local infrastructure.
This year we have facilitated two new Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution Work in Kind (GAIC WIK) agreements including the first land ever allocated for an emergency services facility. This brings our completed GAIC WIKs to ten in total, with a combined value of $78 million.
2022 and Beyond: Priority focus areas for the VPA
We are keen to explore what the legacies of COVID will be – from the rise of suburban centres to a new hybrid working environment – and we are looking at how planning can respond. The VPA’s strategic plan identifies four key responses for the immediate future:
- Doing density better: providing more diverse and better-designed dwelling options
- Growing suburban and regional jobs: enable more workplaces to be developed closer to where people live to keep pace with the changed direction of economic activity
- Coordinating infrastructure with development: help growing communities to get the services they need when they need them
- Unlocking our regions: make it possible for more people to move to and work in our regional cities and peri-urban towns by ensuring supply of zoned land
And of course, overlaying all this are the unifying themes of:
- Implementing the fundamentals of the 20-minute neighbourhood: whether in established Melbourne or in key regional cities
Bringing land to market quickly: accelerate supply in VPA-led growth areas across the state while enabling the development industry to innovate to meet changing consumer demand
And finally: some important thank yous
I’d like to thank the Minister for Planning, our Board Chair Jude Munro AO and her fellow Board members for the great support and strategic vision they have provided the organisation over the past two years in particular.
Also the fantastic VPA team for their outstanding work in a highly disrupted environment. And of course the many VPA stakeholders – councils, developers, Government agencies – upon whom we rely in the preparation and delivery of our plans.
We couldn’t have achieved what we have without you.
We would also like to acknowledge the announcement by Minister Wynne of his retirement at the 2022 Victorian state election.
Minister Wynne has made an outstanding contribution to public life over many years, including his steady and transparent leadership of the planning portfolio and more recently driving the historic Big Housing Build. We look forward to continuing to work with Minister Wynne through 2022.
Again, thank you for all your support for our work and have a very safe and happy festive season. We look forward to working with you again in 2022.