In my final update from the VPA for the year, I would like to start by welcoming and congratulating The Hon. Sonya Kilkenny, MLA for Carrum, as the new Minister for Planning.
Minister Kilkenny was elected as the MLA for Carrum in 2014. Before entering Parliament, Sonya was a lawyer in commercial litigation, banking and finance. She also worked for the Kimberley Land Council in Broome and was on the Board of The National Theatre and Back to Back Theatre.
The VPA looks forward to working under Minister Kilkenny’s leadership to deliver quality urban growth for Victoria.
I would also like to thank and acknowledge outgoing Minister Blandthorn for her leadership and support for the VPA, and congratulate her on her new role as Deputy Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council and Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers and Child Protection and Family Services and coordinating Minister for the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.
The new Ministerial arrangements also include new “client Minister” arrangements for the VPA. Under Section 36 of the VPA Act, the VPA can also be directed by the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure and the Minister for Suburban Rail Loop, allowing them to commission advice and services from the VPA.
The Government has also announced Machinery of Government changes, including the creation of a new Department of Transport and Planning (DTP), which from 1 January will be the new portfolio “home” for the VPA.
The creation of this new department offers an exciting opportunity to better integrate planning and precinct delivery with transport delivery and the Government’s significant pipeline of transport infrastructure projects. We look forward to continuing our work with Deputy Premier Jacinta Allan who will be coordinating Minister for DTP, and who remains Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Minister for the Suburban Rail Loop and Minister for Commonwealth Games Delivery.
We also look forward to working under the leadership of the rest of the new cabinet and other key Ministers for the delivery of our work program, including Treasurer Tim Pallas, Minister for Industry and Innovation Ben Carroll, and Minister for Regional Development and Commonwealth Games Legacy Harriet Shing.
Streamlining for Growth
The VPA is very pleased to be delivering again this year the Government’s very successful Streamlining for Growth (SfG) Program. Information about the latest round of grants and projects to be delivered under the Program can be found at vpa.vic.gov.au/streamlining-for-growth-program
Now in its eighth year, the program aims to facilitate faster and more cost-effective permit-ready delivery of employment and residential land across Victoria. A recent evaluation of the program by ACIL Allen found it had a benefit cost ratio of 7:1, which represents an outstanding return on investment.
The VPA has submitted a business case seeking the Streamlining for Growth Program’s renewal in 2022-23 and beyond, to build on the program’s successes over the past eight years and continue its support for councils to unlock land for housing and jobs.
A look back at 2022
2022 has been a big year of delivery for the VPA.
Four of our precinct plans were gazetted this year, paving the way for development of more than 22,000 new homes and 37,000 new jobs for our growing state. In addition to continuing to our strong record of delivery in Melbourne’s growth areas, we have begun securing a criteria-driven pipeline of work in Victoria’s regions, and launched our new Priority Program to accelerate key projects.
The plans for Arden were gazetted in July, and in October the Victorian Government announced new campuses for the Royal Melbourne Hospital and Royal Women’s Hospital in the heart of the precinct. Located around the Metro Tunnel’s Arden Station, Arden will become a thriving new neighbourhood with an employment and innovation focus centred on this new world-class biomedical precinct.
Our plans for Craigieburn West were gazetted in January. As the final PSP in the Craigieburn residential area, the gazettal marked the completion of the urban growth planning for this vital region of Melbourne’s north. Craigieburn West will feature a series of walkable new residential neighbourhoods and will celebrate the local heritage and landscape with generous green open spaces and conservation reserves, completing a network of green links across the Craigieburn area.
Our plans for Shenstone Park were also gazetted in January, paving the way for Shenstone Park to become a residential and employment precinct accommodating more than 4,300 local jobs. Serviced by Donnybrook Station, the precinct will provide critical new homes, employment opportunities and community services for Melbourne’s North Growth Corridor.
The third plan to be gazetted in January was for the Lilydale Quarry Precinct. The former Lilydale Quarry site will be redeveloped into a series of walkable and sustainable new neighbourhoods full of historic character that acknowledge both its Wurundjeri and industrial heritage. Close to existing schools, shops and services, the site will complete the missing piece of Lilydale and provide new homes, jobs and open space for Melbourne’s east.
Regional Victoria pipeline
In the context of the regionally based Commonwealth Games and local housing demand at record levels, we are working with regional councils and State Government agencies to secure a criteria-driven pipeline of projects in regional Victoria to help meet demand and ensure new communities are well planned. This year we secured new partnerships and projects in the fast-growing regional cities of Geelong, Bendigo and Ballarat.
Transition to Priority Program
This year saw the launch of our VPA Priority Program, targeting rezoning to unlock more than 46,000 residential lots and around 91,000 jobs. The program was a transition from our Fast Track Program, which was launched in 2020 as part of the Government’s economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fast Track Program was a great success, having accelerated the finalisation of eight planning projects, rezoned land to accommodate around 28,000 homes and 27,000 jobs, and unlocked around $7billion in economic value.
We are taking the lessons learnt about speed of delivery over the course of our Fast Track Program to progress our Priority Program into the future.
Farewell Tess Pickering
I must also share the news that Tess Pickering our Executive Director, Metropolitan Melbourne will be moving on after five years with the VPA.
Tess has a significant and exciting new role back in her home state of Queensland as the Deputy Director-General, Planning in the Queensland Government’s planning department.
Like Victoria, Queensland is facing significant growth and has some big things on the horizon with a 2032 Olympics and a transitioning economy to alternative energy industries – so there will be some big things on the books for Tess in her new role!
Tess started with the VPA in early 2018 and has played a key role in developing our organisational strategy before moving back into leading the delivery of planning projects. Most recently Tess has headed up our new Metro Melbourne portfolio with a charter to complement our growth corridor projects with a pipeline of planning work in established Melbourne that makes the most of existing services and infrastructure.
Tess will finish up on 13 January and we will be appointing an Acting Executive Director in the coming weeks.
A big year of delivery like 2022 isn’t possible without the support of our people and partners.
I’d like to thank Ministers Wynne and Blandthorn, our Board Chair Jude Munro AO and her fellow Board members for the strategic vision, leadership and support they have provided to the VPA.
I would also like to acknowledge the outstanding work of the VPA team who have driven the delivery of so many successful projects this year. And of course the many VPA stakeholders – councils, developers, Government agencies – upon whom we rely in the preparation and delivery of our plans.
Thank you for your support, and we look forward to continuing our work with you in 2023 to plan for prosperous, liveable and sustainable urban communities for a growing Victoria.