On 20 September 2023, the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews announced major changes to the planning landscape, with the introduction of a new Housing Statement (“the decade ahead | 2024 – 2034”) (Housing Statement).
The ultimate vision of the Government is to build 800,000 homes in Victoria over the next decade, and as such, it has proposed critical changes to the planning framework as outlined in the Housing Statement.
What is proposed?
The key matters to note for developers and government authorities from the Housing Statement are:
- Expansion of the scope of the Development Facilitation Program to make the Minister for Planning the decision maker for residential development which meets the following criteria:
- Construction costs worth at least $50 million in Melbourne or $15 million in regional Victoria; and
- Proposal to deliver at least 10 per cent affordable housing in the project.
It is anticipated that the timeframes for approving permit applications (which are eligible under this pathway) will be reduced from 12 months or more to 4 months.
- Introduction of new planning controls to help deliver an additional 60,000 homes in the following activity centres:
- Camberwell Junction;
- Niddrie (Keilor Road);
- North Essendon;
- Preston (High Street); and
- Changes to the types of dwellings that will require a planning permit. In this regard, single dwellings on lots bigger than 300sqm (and not within an overlay) will no longer require a planning permit. Single dwellings on lots smaller than 300sqm (and not within an overlay) may be approved within 10 days.
- A dedicated team will work with project proponents, local governments and referral authorities to resolve issues that are currently delaying Council decision making concerning permit applications that facilitate residential development. If there are still decision making delays, then the Minister for Planning will not hesitate to call in the permit application.
- The Department of Transport and Planning will be recruiting 90 new planners to assist with delivery of the various priorities in the Housing Statement.
Planning and Environment Act 1987
The Victorian Government has foreshadowed that it will review and rewrite the Planning and Environment Act 1987 (Act).
The extent of change is not clear, although, it is understood that amendments will likely be made in respect of timeframes for planning permit decisions as well as to roles and responsibilities of local Councils, the Minister for Planning, the Victorian Planning Authority and the Department of Transport and Planning in the planning permit process.
Changes are already being made….
Amendment VC242 was gazetted on 20 September 2023, which relevantly inserts the following two particular provisions into all planning schemes in Victoria (amongst some other changes):
- Clause 53.22 (significant economic development);
- Clause 53.23 (significant residential development with affordable housing).
In summary, a planning permit application may fall within:
- Clause 53.22, if the conditions (which is either a threshold amount for the estimated costs of development or gross floor area) corresponding to certain uses are met;
- Clause 53.23, if the following are met:
- the application includes the use or development of land for accommodation (other than camping and caravan park, group accommodation and residential hotel); and
- the condition corresponding to a category in Table 1 of the clause is met.
Of note, Category 1 under Table 1 of clause 53.23 will be satisfied if the estimated cost of development is $50 million (for development in metropolitan Melbourne) or $15 million (for development not in metropolitan Melbourne) and at least 10% of the total number of dwellings in the development is affordable housing (or alternatively this requirement can be met via an alternative mechanism for the provision of affordable housing under an agreement pursuant to section 173 of the Act).
The Minister for Planning will be the responsible authority for a permit application to which clauses 53.22 or 53.23 apply.
A copy of the amendment documents, including the subject particular provisions can be accessed via the following link: Link to Amendment VC242.
The advantages of a planning permit application falling within these particular provisions are:
- A permit application is exempt from an objector review in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal;
- A permit application is exempt from particular requirements in the planning scheme, if in the opinion of the responsible authority the information is not relevant to the assessment of the application;
- In respect of clause 53.22 (significant economic development), the responsible authority may waive or vary any building height or setback requirement;
- In respect of clause 53.23 (significant residential development with affordable housing), the responsible authority may waive or vary a minimum garden area requirement, any building height or setback requirement or a condition opposite a use in section 2 in a zone or a schedule to a zone.
Whilst the implementation of various initiatives under the Housing Statement have not been outlined in detail (i.e. what changes would be made to planning schemes or the Act), it is likely that significant amendments will be made in this respect.
We will keep you updated as further critical changes are made.
If you require assistance with permit applications or other planning advice in view of the Housing Statement and associated amendments to planning schemes or the Act, please contact our partners Tamara Brezzi (0412 120 165), Nick Sutton (0476 574 032) or Elisa de Wit (0402 893 804) in our Environment and Planning Team and we would be pleased to assist you.