Streamlining for Growth
Applications for the VPA’s Streamlining for Growth program are now open. Councils are invited to apply for grants for planning projects that will create jobs, housing and infrastructure.
As has been widely publicised, Victoria is growing at an unprecedented pace. Recent ABS data confirmed what the population projections have been telling us for some time: that Victoria remains the fastest-growing state in Australia. Victoria’s population is expected to reach 10 million by 2051, with Melbourne overtaking Sydney as the country’s largest city, with a population of eight million, over the same period. In Melbourne’s greenfields alone, there have been 23,000 new lot sales in the past 12 months, a new record. Victoria has also had an unprecedented boom in apartments, with more than 30,000 currently under construction. Regional Victoria has not missed out, with 2015/16 consisting of the strongest regional growth this century.
The challenge of accommodating such strong population growth is paralleled by concerns regarding housing affordability. Affordability is a complex, multi-faceted issue, dependent on demand, construction costs, industry capacity and numerous areas of government policy at all three tiers. While there may be debate regarding the exact level of influence, all would agree that supply plays a critical and fundamental role in meeting the housing affordability challenge.
The Victorian Government has introduced the Streamlining for Growth Program to unlock new employment and residential land, streamline approvals and ensure a strong pipeline of supply is maintained across the state. The initial $4.2 million program was developed and administered by the Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) for the 2016/17 financial year. State Treasurer, Tim Pallas, announced earlier this year that the Victorian Government was extending the program for a further three years, bringing the total investment in the program to over $20 million.
The Streamlining for Growth Program provides support and capacity-building initiatives for councils in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria, with the aim of increasing the supply of housing and employment land through faster planning approvals. The program includes $1 million per year specifically targeting the rezoning of strategic sites within existing Melbourne suburbs to open up land for jobs and housing in Melbourne’s inner and middle suburbs.
The program offers councils a high degree of flexibility for the projects that meet the program aims. The following is a snapshot of the support offered.
- Technical studies such as drainage, cultural heritage and traffic
- Master planning
- Precinct structure planning
- Project staff resourcing support
Efficiencies and Streamlining:
- Process efficiency and improvement programs
- More effective use of functional layout plans in the approvals and certification process
- Better, more consistent, use of outstanding works bonds to enable statement of compliance and lot release
- Information access and 24/7 transaction capability projects
- Online monitoring of application progress enhancements
- Permit condition management efficiencies
- Priority paid service models for fast-tracking large-scale projects
- The use of accredited private sector consultants in the approvals and certification processes
- Unblocking barriers to development, approvals facilitation and red tape reduction
- Funding of project specific development facilitation officers
To date, more than 40 diverse projects have been funded, covering 31 councils across the state and amounting to over $3.3 million for state support. Projects include the following.
In the existing metropolitan areas:
- Altona North Strategic Site Planning Project (Hobsons Bay)
- Solomon Heights (Sunshine North) Rezoning and Development Project (Brimbank)
- Heidelberg West Residential Urban Design and Planning Controls Project (Banyule)
- Monash National Employment and Innovation Cluster Strategic Plan Facilitation (Monash)
In the greenfields metropolitan areas:
- Broadmeadows Transport Modelling and Rezoning Project (Hume)
- Mernda Town Centre/Station Integration Plan (Whittlesea)
- Jacksons Hill/Caloola, Sunbury Master Planning (Hume)
- Epping Activity Centre extension former landfill rehabilitation planning support (Whittlesea)
In greenfields post-PSP approvals streamlining:
- Large-Scale Development Priority Paid Pilot Program (Wyndham)
- Resourcing support & process improvements/streamlining (Wyndham)
- Engineering process and approval improvements/streamlining (Casey)
- Process improvements/streamlining (Melton)
- Backlog resourcing and process improvements/streamlining (Hume)
- Engineering process streamlining and technology enhancements (Whittlesea)
- Subdivision resourcing support (Mitchell)
- Consultant functional layout plan assessment pilot (Cardinia)
- Rockbank Urban Design Framework (Melton)
In Regional Victoria:
- Wonthaggi North East Growth Area PSP & DCP Project (Bass Coast)
- Plan Bendigo (Greater Bendigo)
- Echuca West Precinct Structure Plan (Campaspe)
- Portland Industrial Development Planning & Technical Studies (Glenelg)
- Wodonga Central Business Area Parking Strategy (Wodonga)
- Colac 2050 Plan (Colac Otway)
- Lake Colac Foreshore Redevelopment Facilitation (Colac Otway)
- Traralgon Activity Centre Plan (Latrobe City)
- Unlocking Infrastructure Barriers in Latrobe Valley Program (Latrobe City/ Baw Baw/Wellington)
- Mansfield Housing Strategy (Mansfield)
- Warrnambool Future Urban Growth Area Technical Studies (Warrnambool)
- Yarrawonga Growth Management Strategy (Moira)
- Loddon Five Township Settlement Strategy (Loddon)
- Gisborne Employment Precinct (Macedon Ranges)
- Shepparton Urban Framework Plan (Greater Shepparton)
- Beaufort Framework Plan (Pyrenees)
- Wangaratta Industrial Land Use Strategy (Wangaratta)
- Halls Gap Town Centre Development Plan (Northern Grampians)
- Parwan Employment Precinct Structure Plan (Moorabool)
- Bacchus Marsh Urban Growth Framework (Moorabool)
- North Sale Development Plan (Wellington)
- Harcourt Structure Plan (Mount Alexander)
- Horsham Wimmera River Corridor Master Plan (Horsham)
The breadth and depth of projects not only highlights the varied and complex needs of councils in the delivery of land, but also the adaptability of the funding program. A number of the pilot projects will serve as best practice case studies for other councils and authorities to learn from and build on.
With strong development industry support, ongoing state government commitment and a genuine collective desire to improve and enhance the planning and approval of land development across the state, Streamlining for Growth is well placed to deliver real benefits to housing affordability and supply for years to come.