The New Urban Growth Zone

On 4 March this year, Premier Brumby announced the establishment of a new Urban Growth Zone (UGZ) which will fast-track the rezoning of land for homes in growth areas across Melbourne.

The Premier’s announcement coincided with the release of the 2007 Urban Development Program (UDP) report, which details the Government’s policy of maintaining a 15 years supply of residential broadhectare land across Melbourne’s growth areas, of which 10 years supply should be appropriately zoned. In contrast to this objective, the UDP identifies that while an adequate supply of land is available, currently only 7-8 years of this total stock is zoned for residential purposes.

The reforms have been introduce to address the problem of housing affordability and respond to the forecasted population increases in Victoria which will see the state reach a population of 6.2 million in 2020, rather than 2030 as originally anticipated.

The new zone is to be applied across all broadacre areas inside Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary with the aim of assisting in the development of 90,000 new homes in the five growth areas of Casey-Cardinia, Hume, Melton, Whittlesea and Wyndham.

Currently the Farming Zone is applied to greenfield areas within the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) that are not yet zoned for urban development. The Farming Zone however lacks the flexibility to deal with urban growth.

Under the new zone, the previous two step process of firstly preparing a Precinct Structure Plan, and then rezoning the land will be eliminated. The rezoning of individual blocks of land from farming to residential land will no longer be required as planning permits can be issued if the proposal complies with the relevant Precinct Structure Plans (PSPs).

A PSP represents a master plan for designing new communities which set out a mixture of residential lots with community space, commercial and other uses. It is considered that PSPs will be developed by the relevant local council. Once they have been approved by the Minister, they will be incorporated into the local planning scheme.

An application which is considered to be consistent with the relevant PSP has the potential to be exempt from advertising in a similar manner to the current provisions under a Development Plan Overlay.

 The implication of the new Urban Growth Zone is expected to occur over the coming months.

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Last updated 000606