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Port Phillip responds to Housing Statement

Published 23 October 2023
Our response to the Victorian Government's Housing Statement which targets to build 800,000 homes in Victoria over the next decade.

The City of Port Phillip recognises housing affordability is one of the most important issues facing Victorians and welcomes action from the Government in tackling this. Our City has long been at the forefront in advocating for the delivery of affordable housing to meet community needs which is embedded in our Growing Affordable Housing in Port Phillip 2015-2025, In our Back Yard.

On 21 September, the Victorian Government issued its Housing Statement which targets to build 800,000 homes in Victoria over the next decade.

Council supports many of the key aims of the Victorian Government’s Housing Statement, however we are concerned that many of the reforms and their implementation to facilitate the targets have been actioned in the absence of any consultation with our city. We believe that local governments are best placed to make decisions about local matters, in consultation with residents.

Some of the recent reforms to planning include:

  • Applications on lots over 300 square metres now don’t require a planning permit unless otherwise requiring a permit under an overlay.
  • Some application types are now exempt from public notification.
  • The Minister for Planning becoming the decision maker for significant economic development and significant residential developments with affordable housing.

The bid to streamline the decision-making process for applications must not be the expense of consultation with our community, conserving the unique characteristics of our activity centres, residential areas, heritage buildings and precincts. Council and our residents have a long history of advocating for policies in our planning scheme which protect the amenity and character of our built environment. Further, we have a strong track record of defending these at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Council prides itself in working with our applicants in consultation with our community and industry experts to get the best outcome for our city while we move towards a more sustainable future. Since 2018/19 Council have approved more than 10,200 dwellings and a further 10,000 dwellings have been approved in the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area (with Council as a key stakeholder in Ministerial approvals). Ensuring adequate public transport is provided for Fishermans Bend is arguably more relevant to ensuring good housing outcomes than planning changes.

The reforms arising from the Housing Statement has created some confusion and uncertainty, particularly for community members who already had planning applications on foot. Council Planners are currently liaising with parties who may be affected by this recent reform.

Council will continue to advocate on the behalf of the community and use its extensive and nuanced local knowledge to help make good planning decisions. We look forward to working with the State Government on refining these reforms and securing the best outcomes for our existing and future residents.