We are past the halfway point of 2023 and I have some important developments at the VPA to update you on.
The VPA team has achieved three significant project milestones in recent weeks.
Casey Fields South and Devon Meadows Precinct Structure Plan (PSP) has reached agency validation stage, taking these draft plans a step closer to completion and meeting the VPA’s goal to prepare three metropolitan greenfields PSPs in the last financial year. These plans will pave the way for investment in 3000 houses, 4200 jobs and provision for community infrastructure including three schools, an activity centre and 19 hectares of local open space. In Casey Fields South, 220 hectares of employment land is proposed for this regionally significant industrial area.
The Greater Avalon Employment Precinct team has now completed the Vision and Purpose report after engagement with project stakeholders. The Greater Avalon Employment Precinct is critical to delivering a job-rich future for the fast-growing Melbourne-Geelong corridor, and the VPA is delighted to be leading this project at the request of the City of Greater Geelong and in partnership with council, landowners and key agencies. The Vision and Purpose report, under our PSP 2.0 process, is the gateway into plan preparation and sets the key directions for the final draft PSP.
Bannockburn South East PSP has also reached the important stage of agency validation. This plan will deliver permit-ready land for approximately 5000 dwellings, 700 jobs, two government primary schools, a secondary school, and an independent school. This is expected to almost double the population of the existing Bannockburn township. The plan also protects long-term options for possible future arterial road connections beyond the precinct.
VPA Leadership Moves
The Minister for Planning, the Hon. Sonya Kilkenny, has appointed a new Deputy Board Chair to the VPA Board. Damien Tangey has significant experience in the property industry across a range of sectors including planning, development, infrastructure and construction over 30 years. He has a strong understanding of the tiers of policy, regulation and market forces defining settlement patterns and the housing delivery and affordability framework in Victoria including metropolitan, peri-urban, regional and rural areas. He joined the VPA Board in 2021.
Damien’s appointment comes after our longstanding Board Member and Deputy Chair, Bill Kusznirczuk, retired from the VPA Board after 12 years of dedicated service. Bill served on three iterations of Boards for the Growth Areas Authority, Metropolitan Planning Authority and the VPA. He made an enormous contribution to the governance of the organisation, including through his Deputy Chair role, and Chair of the Executive Remuneration People & Culture Committee. Our sincere thanks to him.
Also leaving the Board is Trevor Budge, who has served since 2016. He has brought the vital perspective of regional Victoria to our work, which has become increasingly important over recent years. My thanks to him for his wisdom and guidance and also for his role as a member of the Executive Remuneration People & Culture Committee.
I am pleased to announce a new member of our executive team, Justin O’Meara, who joins us from the City of Whittlesea where he was Director Planning and Development.
Justin brings extensive leadership and planning experience, having held roles in planning and infrastructure delivery in Australia and the UK. In his role as Executive Director Metropolitan Melbourne, Justin will head up delivery and reform of all of the VPA’s work across Melbourne. Many thanks to Martina Johnson who has so ably acted in that role in the year to date.
Long serving VPA Executive Ed Small has recently departed the organsiation. Ed started with the VPA 16 years ago as Director of Corporate Services and was responsible for all corporate functions including CFO and Board Secretary. This role evolved over the years to Executive Director, Corporate Services. I thank him and wish him well at his new role at Moyne Shire Council.
Rachel Strevens will succeed Ed as Chief Financial Officer, Board Secretary and Director People & Finance.
Find out more about the VPA Leadership Team on our website.
Victorian Grassland Earless Dragon and VPA Projects
Many of you would have seen the news in past weeks about the re-discovery of the Victorian Grassland Earless Dragon (VGED) at a location west of Melbourne. It is the first time the species has been sighted in over 50 years, and it had been considered likely to be extinct.
Since its discovery, the VGED has been listed as critically endangered under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988, as well as the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
The Victorian and Commonwealth Governments are jointly working to develop a plan to ensure the species’ ongoing conservation. This will include developing new survey techniques to allow the VGED to be more accurately identified and confirm habitat likely to support the species.
The VPA has been advised that three of its current projects in the Bacchus Marsh area have been identified as likely having habitat that would support the Victorian Grassland Earless Dragon.
Accordingly, the VPA will be pausing preparation of those three projects until the conservation requirements for the species have been confirmed. This is expected to be informed by detailed surveys over summer/early autumn in 2023/24.
The lead agency responsible for developing and implementing the response to the VGED is the Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action (DEECA).
The VPA is currently pursuing a contact at DEECA for our stakeholders and will advise when that becomes available
VPA Work Program
At the end of June the VPA undertook the latest quarterly review of its work program.
Quarterly reviews enable us to manage pressures on our program, respond to technical issues and achieve cross-Government policy alignment. This quarter we also factored in the VPA’s revised funding envelope from 1 July following from the release of the State Budget on 23 May 2023.
The majority of our projects remain under active progression with minimal impact on timelines. However, there a number of projects that are subject to technical issues that require resolution outside the VPA, present policy issues that are matters for Government to decide on, or are impacted by our need to reprioritise our resources.
As is normal practice, we will keep our stakeholders informed on the status of our work program, which will continue to be updated each quarter or as directed by the Minister for Planning.
For further detail on individual projects, please visit our website here.
Government Aspirations for Growth
Many of you may have seen the Premier’s recent comments in the media (The Age; July 6) about the Government’s aspirations for growth.
In the article, the Premier spoke of the benefits of achieving more new development in established suburbs with high design standards and good access to public transport. The Premier also spoke of reforming how housing supply works and improving the operation of the planning system.
The VPA is excited about these directions for change and improvement. We are actively involved in discussions across Government, bringing forward our ideas for unlocking housing and jobs in established suburbs and for creating strong complete communities in greenfield growth corridors.
We will update you as decisions are made.