Regional Victoria is leading the way in Victoria’s economic recovery, and is set for a transformational period ahead.
With the exciting announcement that regional Victoria will host the 2026 Commonwealth Games, and $5.7 billion provided for regional initiatives in the Victorian Budget 2022/23, the VPA is preparing to support the work of Government and councils in planning for the precincts, infrastructure and services to help our regions thrive.
At the same time, we are realigning our focus on delivering the housing, jobs and infrastructure needed for a growing Melbourne, to achieve more balanced growth outcomes in targeted locations in our established suburbs – such as activity centres or urban renewal areas – as well as in our fast-growing new growth corridor communities.
Read on for some exciting announcements about how we’re responding to new opportunities to deliver prosperous, liveable, and sustainable communities across a growing Victoria.
Streamlining for Growth
I am pleased to announce that the Streamlining for Growth (SfG) grants program will open tomorrow for the 2022-23 round, with $3.15 million available in grants funding.
Information about this year’s program is available on the VPA website, including the application assessment criteria.
This year’s program will allocate grants under three funding streams:
- Metropolitan Melbourne
- Regional Victoria
- Better Regulation and Streamlining Processes (Metropolitan and Regional Areas)
Regional councils may wish to consider how the SfG program can assist their preparations for the 2026 Commonwealth Games, or to meet the record levels of housing demand being experienced in many towns – for example by unlocking the development of strategic precincts or sites.
We encourage all councils experiencing growth pressures to apply for this year’s program and make the most of the Victorian Government’s support to help you plan and accelerate quality development in your municipality.
For further information on the program or to discuss a potential application, please contact Paul Cassidy, Director Streamlining at firstname.lastname@example.org
Realigning our executive priorities
After four years of valuable contributions at the VPA, Alix Rhodes, Executive Director for Regions is moving on to a new challenge at DELWP as Executive Director, Land Management Policy within the Environment and Climate Change Group.
I would like to thank Alix for her impactful work over a range of portfolios at the VPA. Her energy and professionalism have been outstanding, and DELWP’s gain is certainly our loss.
We have taken this opportunity to revisit our leadership structure and the division of responsibilities, particularly in light of our recently released Strategic Plan 2021-24.
Firstly, we are bringing our Melbourne Renewal Precincts and Outer Melbourne business groups into a new group with integrated responsibility for all our projects in metropolitan Melbourne. This exciting initiative will position us to better integrate our growth planning solutions across different development settings in Melbourne, as we strive for more balanced growth.
This new Metropolitan Melbourne Group will be ably led by Tess Pickering who has a strong record of delivery leading our planning work in Outer Melbourne, and will now lead our programs across both established Melbourne and the growth corridors. This will allow us to take a more holistic view of how to achieve the aspirations set out in Plan Melbourne of delivering 70 per cent of new homes in established areas and 30 per cent in new communities in our greenfields.
Secondly, we are giving our Regional Victoria Group a specific additional role to identify and deliver planning projects that support the delivery, and leverage the benefits and legacy, of Commonwealth Games infrastructure, as well as responding to record levels of housing demand being experienced in many locations.
I am delighted that Peter Sagar, previously our Executive Director of Melbourne Renewal Precincts, will be moving across to head up our Regional Victoria and Commonwealth Games Support Group as they work to deliver our pipeline of regional projects and support regional councils to plan for and maximise the benefits the Commonwealth Games will bring. Peter will bring his very valuable experience to the new role, having overseen our renewal projects for the last three years.
Rachel Dapiran, Dean Rochfort, and Ed Small will continue in their current important roles and round out the VPA’s highly capable executive leadership team.
Transition from ‘Fast Track’ to ‘Priority Program’
As part of the Government’s response to COVID-19, in 2020 the Treasurer and Minister for Planning asked the VPA to accelerate 19 projects on our existing work program, triggering the creation of our Fast Track Program.
The program has been very successful in aiding the faster delivery of high impact projects to support economic recovery for Victoria. A total of eight planning projects have been finalised so far, rezoning land to accommodate around 28,000 houses and 27,000 jobs and unlock around $7billion in economic value.
Fast Track was a specific response to the extraordinary advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it was never intended as an ongoing approach for the VPA.
Two years on, we are updating our work program to reflect the end of the Fast Track program and introduce a new ongoing Priority Program. The projects on this program will be kept at the forefront for resource allocation and prioritised attention.
The Priority Program will initially target rezoning to unlock more than 46,000 residential lots and around 91,000 jobs. We will be taking the lessons learnt about speed of delivery over the past two years to progress our Priority Program into the future.
Dean Rochfort will oversee our Priority Program as the Executive Director – People & Performance.
The years ahead offer some once-in-a-generation opportunities to deliver thriving, well-serviced communities in metropolitan Melbourne and across regional Victoria. The VPA looks forward to partnering with you to deliver on these exciting opportunities together.