• VCAT

November 23, 2022

How does the State election change planning in Victoria?

Melbourne is a city that has experienced population growth in such a capacity whereby a crisis of housing supply and affordability has now become a long-stretched issue that governments are dealing with on a daily basis. The idea of homeownership is a long-standing Australian dream, however over recent years, it has become increasingly difficult for Victorians to purchase and live in a home with access to an equal share of infrastructure and services.

The Victorian Housing Crisis

The State Government is aware that housing affordability and diversity has become an issue in Melbourne and has proactively required planning to ensure that new developments cater specifically to these items through updating several dozen provisions within the State Planning Policy Framework.

Whilst efforts can be made to ensure new developments cater to the people, it is ultimately the Government in power that determines what ‘new developments’ look like. Over the last twenty years, hundreds of residential estates in the City’s outer suburbs have seen tens of thousands of homes built, however for a large portion of time, many of the residents who have lived in these new homes have dealt with increased transit times, lack of public amenity, unsafe conditions and a lack of overall infrastructure and facilities to service their needs.

One of the largest problems is that while homes can be built, it takes many years to successfully incorporate business and services into a new residential area, and that in turn causes residents to be comparably disadvantaged. As a result, there is an impetus to live in established neighbourhoods which have existing access to services, facilities, and transport methods.

Over time, this issue has caused residential homes within existing neighbourhoods to skyrocket in price and have become largely unaffordable to the average buyer. Not to mention, the cost of living in such suburbs has also increased, with services, land taxes and Council rates all heading north. As a result, a crisis has born.

Labor vs. Liberal – What is the solution?

It is common knowledge that the Labor and Liberal parties of Victoria share differing views on what need be prioritised not just in tackling housing, but in most other areas of government.

The current Victorian Labor party has made commitments worth tens of billions of dollars to improve connectivity and liveability within established areas, through the provision of the Level Crossings Removal Project, Suburban Rail Loop and most recently with the Melbourne Airport Rail. Whilst these projects will undoubtedly improve the conditions of traffic and transit within the City, there are many people who live further away from the City Centre and will not benefit from the money spent.

The Victorian Liberal party are strong in their belief that time is needed to foster productive and working suburbs, and that Victoria’s future lies in the outer suburbs, where most development is currently being built. Victorian shadow premier Matthew Guy has iterated that growth in the outer suburbs must contain services and jobs for people who will be living there.

There is a clear argument here that on one hand, increased growth in the outer suburbs will leave more residents without their basic needs, and that as a result, development should be focused closer to the region of Greater Melbourne – and on the other hand, it is implied that development may have already exceeded its limits internally within this region, and planning should be focused to ensure the outer suburbs contain the necessary infrastructure to manage growth.

Looking forward

It is fairly well known that political bodies will use topical issues to navigate their way to power, and it is likely that both the Labor and Liberal parties will aim to do so over the next coming weeks.

However, the housing affordability crisis remains a critical issue and must be addressed efficiently and imperatively by whichever party wins the election.

We at CS Town Planning are experts in this area and it is our view that at all levels, development both within and beyond Greater Melbourne should be balanced and provided with the necessary requirements to enable quality of life.

We have found that resourcing within local Councils has led to delays in processing housing applications at all levels, and perhaps it should be the role of the government to provide Councils, developers and all other relevant stakeholders with the tools they need to increase the output of infrastructure and provision of economy building outcomes. Perhaps it is the system that needs the most change in order to effectively solve this crisis.