The Andrews Labor Government recently released the Plan Melbourne Discussion Paper, its long-term vision for affordable housing close to jobs, targeted infrastructure and public transport, aimed at maintaining Melbourne as one of the world’s most liveable cities.

With Melbourne's population set to top eight million by 2051, Planning Minister Richard Wynne has said he wants both expert and community input in the final document, which seeks to provide clear guidance and direction for future governments.  A report by the Ministerial Advisory Committee provided further insights into the revised Plan Melbourne recommendations.

With an extra 1.5 million homes required for the burgeoning population, proposed revisions will require 70 per cent of all new housing to be built in established suburbs, limiting growth on the urban fringe to 30 per cent. Retained from the previous plan is the notion of the 20-minute neighbourhood, in which housing, services and transport options will all reduce the need for cars. With middle suburbs ideally positioned to support greater housing supply, this presents opportunities for residential apartment and townhouse developers.

In addition, a range of planning mechanisms has been proposed to facilitate social and affordable housing, including mandatory inclusionary housing obligations and developing surplus or underutilised government sites.  Developers who can deliver innovative developments incorporating low-cost and affordable housing options are likely to win favour in the planning process.

The Discussion Paper also flags new policies, including a commitment to build the Melbourne Metro project, together with proposals to address Victoria’s housing crisis, and reviews of housing affordability and Reformed Residential Zones.

The State Government is also aiming to take stronger remedial action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our exposure to climate change impacts. Strategic environmental principles, environmentally sustainable design, greening the city and encouraging renewable energy are other key considerations promoted.  Developers should take note of the Government’s focus in this area when submitting plans for approval.

Submissions on the Discussion Paper close 18 December 2015 with a revised Plan Melbourne to be issued in the first half of 2016. Plan Melbourne, the Discussion Paper and the feedback process can be accessed at www.planmelbourne.vic.gov.au.

For more information, please contact your usual Grant Thornton advisor, or:

Brock Mackenzie | Partner - Audit & Assurance
T  +61 3 8663 6273 | E  brock.mackenzie@au.gt.com