Reforming infrastructure contributions critical

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Victorian councils are key players in the development and delivery of housing diversity and choice. After Infrastructure Victoria (IV) released its Our Homes Choices report, councils are renewing calls for a stronger partnership between state and local governments to meet Victoria’s growing housing needs.

There is a significant housing crisis in Victoria. While the local government sector doesn’t agree with everything in the report, it does open an important discussion on how to improve the delivery and type of housing required by Victorians.

The MAV – on behalf of councils – has long advocated the need to reform the infrastructure contribution system in a way that delivers essential infrastructure and services to new and growing communities. We support the calls in the report to do so.

Melbourne’s growing pains are rarely out the newspaper headlines.  They are at the forefront of much of the work councils do. Victoria needs infrastructure contribution mechanisms that are fit-for-purpose to provide councils with the necessary funds to deliver infrastructure that meets community expectations now and into the future.

The alternative is, as we deliver more homes and increased density, communities will lack social infrastructure, leaving them isolated or reliant on crowded, costly and time-consuming trips to jobs and services.

The report talks about doing density well, and the MAV – through the Council Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment (CASBE) – has been at the forefront of driving sustainable new builds, through projects such as the Elevating Environmentally Sustainable Development Targets. In the rush to deliver more homes, new development today must be resilient for tomorrow.

It was extremely disappointing that social and affordable housing wasn’t included in the scope of IV’s report. With housing waiting lists growing every day, it is essential to achieve a proportionate increase of social and affordable housing for our community’s most vulnerable residents. This was a missed opportunity to address it as any uplift in housing delivery should result in a proportionate delivery of social and affordable housing.

The MAV is cautious about proposals to remove red tape. Councils do not want unnecessary hurdles for new development, but we must ensure ‘removing red tape’ is not code for cutting out local decision making, leading to poor outcomes that have lasting costs on communities.

The report opens an important discussion to get to the best outcomes in housing. Transparency is a key pillar for housing and other planning.

Our Home Choices incorrectly states that the State Government’s 10 year social and affordable housing strategy has been released, which it has not been.

MAV continues our ongoing calls for the release of the strategy, as well as the Ministerial Advisory Committee’s Planning Mechanisms for Social and Affordable Housing report and the final report from the Infrastructure Contributions Advisory Committee.

The release of these reports will help ensure informed input and decision making by all key stakeholders, whether that be councils, community groups, developers, and the State Government. Councils are key partners in Victoria's planning system, they want to work with the State to deliver appropriate and sustainable development.