State Planning Policy – housing supply, location, character and infrastructure

Planning Scheme VC169 is a state-wide Planning Scheme Amendment which came into effect on 9 October 2020. 

The Amendment is made to clarify and strengthen Housing policy by: 

  • Changing Neighbourhood Character policy at Clause 15.01-5S, to ensure preferred neighbourhood character and housing growth objectives correspond. 
  • Changing Housing policy at Clause 16.01 to simplify, clarify and consolidate housing policy and create new “housing supply” policy at Clause 16.01-1S 
  • Making other changes to regional housing policies for clarity and consistency; 
  • Changing Clause 19.03-2S Infrastructure Design and Provision by relocating policy from Clause 16.01-2S, integrating new housing with infrastructure. 

Diving a little deeper:  State-level Neighbourhood character policy at Clause 15.01-S5 is amended to remove reference from Ensure development responds to cultural identity   to   Support development that respects the existing neighbourhood character or contributes to a preferred neighbourhood character.   

It is considered the change in terminology from Ensure to Support may require decision makers to take a more proactive role, rather than reactive, in allowing development which ticks neighbourhood character boxes. 

References to heritage in the Strategies of this policy are replaced with neighbourhood character because heritage policy is addressed in detail elsewhere in the planning scheme and is not the same thing as “neighbourhood character”.  

Policy at Clause 15.01-S5 also gains a new Strategy, to:  

  • Ensure the preferred neighbourhood character is consistent with medium and higher density housing outcomes in areas identified for increased housing.

This policy seeks to balance neighbourhood character and housing provision objectives. It acknowledges the different preferred neighbourhood character outcomes and likely extent of change achievable in areas with policy support for higher density development. 

Housing policy at Clause 16.01-1S is retitled from “Integrated housing” to “Housing Supply” and the objective of the policy changes from a focus to promote a housing market (that meets community needs) to a focus on facilitating well-located, integrated and diverse housing that meets community needs 

Housing supply policy at Clause 16.01-1S is merged with Location of residential development policy, previously at Clause 16.01-2S with the following new policy included: 

Facilitate diverse housing that offers choice and meets changing household needs by widening housing diversity through a mix of housing types. 

Encourage the development of well-designed housing that: 

  • Provides a high level of internal and external amenity. 
  • Incorporates universal design and adaptable internal dwelling design. 

Support opportunities for a range of income groups to choose housing in well-servicelocations. 

Plan for growth areas to provide for a mix of housing types through a variety of lot sizes, including higher housing densities in and around activity centres. 

While the direction of these policies is not new, their inclusion together under Housing supply policy provides a concise set of policies addressing diversity of housing type, affordability, amenity/living quality, accessibility and location. 

Housing Supply Strategies for Metropolitan Melbourne At Clause 16.01-1R Housing supply – Metropolitan Melbourne have been supplemented with new strategies that seek to: 

Provide certainty about the scale of growth by prescribing appropriate height and site coverage provisions for different areas. 

Allow for a range of minimal, incremental and high change residential areas that balance the need to protect valued areas with the need to ensure choice and growth in housing. 

Create mixed-use neighbourhoods at varying densities that offer more choice in housing. 

The rearrangement or changes to State level housing and neighbourhood character policy are consistent with the structure of much of the local planning policy in Victoria’s Planning Schemes, particularly where areas of municipalities are allocated high, medium or low levels of infill development and/or expectation for change of neighbourhood character.  

Although not ground-breaking, the above changes are noteworthy as an attempt to add weight to the fact that changes to neighbourhood character are expected, as a result of need for infill, diversity and affordable housing policies.  

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