The VPA is ending the year on a high note with the excitement and certainty of our key role in delivering Victoria’s Housing Statement: The Decade Ahead 2024-2034 now affirmed and supported by our newly approved Business Plan for 2023/24.
The Housing Statement presents a clear vision for Victoria’s housing future backed by a bold target of 80,000 new homes each year over the next decade – and the VPA has a vitally important role to play.
In the short term, we will focus on 21 priority projects to deliver zoned capacity for more than 60,000 homes and 60,000 jobs. We will also provide advice and services to the Department of Transport and Planning to increase housing choice in activity centres. Government aims to introduce clearer planning controls to unlock 60,000 additional homes in and around an initial 10 activity centres.
We continue to work across Government on initiatives to improve the outcomes of our plans, including stronger sequencing to align development and infrastructure, boosting density and diversity in targetted areas of greenfield Melbourne, and improving environmental outcomes like tree cover and integrated water management.
Beyond this, the Housing Statement also sets a pathway for determining our future priorities.
A new Plan for Victoria will bring to life the Government’s target for 70 per cent of Melbourne’s new homes to be built in established areas, while making sure growth areas deliver 30 per cent of new homes. A review of the Planning and Environment Act 1987 will revitalise Victoria’s planning system, and our role in it.
The work program outlined in our 2023/24 Business Plan sets the VPA up to transition, over time, to have a greater focus on plans to support our growing population in established Melbourne.
VPA Business Plan 2023/24
In 2023/24, our focus is to deliver Housing Statement priorities. This is reflected in our Business Plan which prioritises our 31 Housing Statement projects and also enables us to progress a number of other projects through the year.
Our work program will be categorised by program area (more detail below) and prioritised in tiers.
Tier 1: Housing Statement Priority Projects. Across metropolitan areas and regional Victoria, the VPA will continue work on 21 Tier 1 Projects which are detailed in the Business Plan as well as the 10 Melbourne Activity Centres. These are our main focus and priority for the year.
Tier 2: Projects that are progressing subject to technical studies being undertaken and completed across Government to determine appropriate next steps.
Tier 3: Projects where work is being undertaken across Government or with stakeholders to confirm readiness for the VPA to progress to plan preparation.
Where And What Our Priority Projects Are
We have introduced a new program of seven Housing Statement projects that gives focus to rezoning land for industrial and commercial uses to accommodate new and growing Victorian businesses. This program will deliver plans for new industrial and commercial precincts in key regional locations and in places identified in the Melbourne Industrial and Commercial Land Use Plan.
In Victoria’s regions, we have nine Housing Statement projects that will deliver future dwellings and jobs in greenfield and urban renewal areas to alleviate housing supply shortages. These regional projects will have the potential – when fully developed – to accommodate an estimated 23,000 future homes and 6,000 jobs.
Overall, we have 11 Housing Statement projects in established Melbourne. Ten of these are activity centre projects for which we are providing advice to DTP in their role as program lead. In addition, we are continuing with our urban renewal planning for Braybrook, in partnership with Homes Victoria and Maribyrnong Council. Together, these aim to unlock potential to accommodate an estimated 70,000 future homes.
In line with policy, and on direction from Government, we aspire to considerably expand our established Melbourne program in the future, based on the directions to be set by a new Plan for Victoria.
Recent Project Milestones
Officer South Employment Precinct Structure Plan (PSP) has successfully achieved the milestone of public exhibition, which ran from 25 September until 27 October.
The state-significant employment precinct will provide for 22,000 future job opportunities in Melbourne’s south-east corridor. Our plan allows for a diverse range of new businesses and industries such as research, premium logistics and advanced manufacturing with business parks and potential data centres. We are ensuring development is supported by existing and proposed state and local infrastructure.
The precinct will feature a neighbourhood of around 5,000 residents in a well-designed and walkable precinct to support the local community.
We are working with Cardinia Shire Council, and state agencies, to prepare a draft planning scheme amendment which seeks to implement the Officer South Employment PSP and Supplementary Infrastructure Contributions Plan (ICP) to the Cardinia Planning Scheme.
Since last I wrote to you, the VPA Board has signed off on five other major projects/advices; Wonthaggi North East PSP, Shepparton South East PSP, Beveridge North West PSP, Small Lot Housing Code – Stage 2 and the Ballarat Infrastructure Growth Alignment Framework, for either public consultation or finalisation, and these are now progressing to next steps.
The VPA Wins PIA Award for Planning Excellence
The Place Shaper Kit (PSK) is a hands-on interactive planning tool which transforms the way stakeholders help to shape our precinct structure plans. The PSK ‘gamifies’ the way stakeholders make iterative contributions in co-design workshops and other engagement settings.
The VPA is delighted that this very practical and applied project innovation has been recognised by the Planning Institute of Australia Victorian Division by receiving the 2023 Award for Planning Excellence in Stakeholder Engagement.
The PSK allows stakeholders with no background in planning to contribute to the form of future communities. It helps to implement the aspirations of the Victorian Planning Authority’s PSP 2.0 ‘Reform Agenda’ by updating the way we create plans to make the planning process more accessible and inclusive. You can watch the explainer video here.
Infrastructure and Development Staging within PSPs
The revised Precinct Structure Plans (PSPs), released in October 2021, set new and higher expectations for guiding the staging of development within a PSP.
To deliver on these new principles, the VPA has developed a methodology to propose Infrastructure and Development Staging Plans (IDSP), which identify the preferred pathways for infrastructure and development in specific precincts. IDSPs outline which infrastructure is required at what point based on development demands, and how development should be staged to maximise the efficiency of infrastructure provision.
This new approach was trialled for the first time in the development of a PSP in a public consultation for the Officer South Employment Precinct in September and October 2023. You can view the FAQs on staging plans for Officer South on its project page.
VPA Leadership Moves
In September 2023, after five years with the VPA, Peter Sagar, Executive Director of Regional Victoria moved on. Peter has been an energetic and passionate leader and has racked up many achievements leading the Inner Melbourne, Melbourne Renewal Precincts and then the Regional Victoria teams.
Peter also played a key role in our approach to priority precincts, as well as planning practice improvements and many complex place-based plans.
Dean Rochfort is acting as the Executive Director for Regional Victoria (in addition to his substantive role as Executive Director People and Performance) while we review our reporting lines to ensure alignment with the Government’s new priorities for the VPA.
Also leaving the VPA is Rachel Strevens, Chief Financial Officer, Board Secretary and Director People & Finance. Rachel has been appointed Director – Financial Partnering and Reporting with the Department of Justice and Community Safety Victoria (DJCS).
I want to congratulate Rachel on securing this challenging and influential role with DJCS. It goes without saying, we will miss her very much at the VPA and thank her for the past 12 years of amazing service.
Alex Mulholland, who has managed the VPA finance team since 2019 will replace Rachel as Chief Financial Officer. Matthew Thornley, the VPA’s Governance and Corporate Information Manager, will take up the role of Board Secretary. My thanks to them both.
Thank you to everyone who has partnered and worked with us over 2023, we can’t do it without you.