Facilitating Affordable Housing Through the Planning System

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Twelve months ago, the Victorian Government released two important policy documents; Homes for Victorians and the ‘refreshed’ Plan Melbourne 2017 – 2050.  While there is always room for improvement, these two documents are a significant and long-overdue step towards a whole-of-government strategy to increase social and affordable housing for lower income Victorians.

Within these documents the State Government has recognised that wide ranging action and investment is required to address this significant and growing economic and social issue. This includes investment in public housing renewal, setting affordable housing requirements when selling surplus government land, supporting shared equity home ownership, and establishing financing and funding supports for not-for-profit housing agencies to increase social housing supply.

Of particular interest to planning professionals, land owners, developers and local governments is the acknowledgement by the State that the land use planning system has a role to play in facilitating social and affordable housing. This is highlighted in Direction 2.3 of Plan Melbourne to ‘increase the supply of social and affordable housing’ with four key policies intended to achieve this outcome:

  1. Utilise government land to deliver additional social housing;
  2. Streamline decision-making processes for social housing proposals;
  3. Strengthen the role of planning in facilitating and delivering the supply of social and affordable housing;
  4. Create ways to capture and share value uplift from rezonings.

In its commitment to strengthen the role of planning, the Government has recognised that a clearer legislative framework and definition is a critical first step.  To this end, in 2017 the Government introduced changes to the Planning and Environment Act 1987 to include a new Object “to facilitate the provision of affordable housing”, a definition of affordable housing, and confirmation that a responsible authority “may enter into an agreement with an owner of land for the development or provision of land in relation to affordable housing”.[i]

These provisions come into effect from 1 June 2018.

To read the rest of this article please go to Planning News March 2018

[i] Parliament of Victoria (2017) Planning and Building Legislation Amendment (Housing Affordability and Other Matters) Act 2017, Assented to 26 September 2017

This is an extract from an article published in Planning News Volume 44 No.2 March 2018