The National Cabinet met in Brisbane last month to deliver on a range of priorities for Australians, focusing on enhancing the security and affordability of housing. During the meeting, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese unveiled a comprehensive plan to bolster housing supply across the country. At the heart of these efforts is the National Planning Reform Blueprint (Blueprint), the central housing solution resulting from the recent National Cabinet Meeting.
A multi-faceted approach
The Blueprint encompasses a multi-faceted approach encompassing planning, zoning, land allocation and other measures said to amplify housing supply and affordability. This initiative underscores the promotion of medium and high-density housing within well-connected locales, adjacent to existing public transportation hubs, amenities, and places of employment. Additionally, the Blueprint encompasses the following key components:
- updating state, regional and local strategic plans to reflect their share of housing supply targets
- undertaking planning, zoning, land release and other reforms, such as increasing density, to meet their share of housing supply targets
- streamlining approval pathways, including strengthened 'call in powers' and prioritising planning amendments to support diverse housing across a range of areas, e.g. by addressing barriers to subdivision for appropriate medium density housing
- reforms to support the rapid delivery of social and affordable housing
- reforms to address barriers to the timely issuing of development approvals
- consideration of the phased introduction of inclusionary zoning and planning to support permanent affordable, social and specialist housing in ways that do not add to construction costs
- rectifying gaps in housing design guidance and building certification to ensure the quality of new builds, particularly apartments
- improving community consultation processes
- adequately resourcing built environmental professionals, including planners, in local government.
A component of a comprehensive reform package
Alongside the Blueprint, the National Cabinet has committed to constructing 1.2 million new well-located homes over the next five years, starting from 1 July 2024. This number represents an increase of 200,000 homes compared to the housing target established in the previous year's National Housing Accord agreed upon by states and territories. This target is supported by $3.5 billion in incentives for states and territories to effectively provide these additional homes. A New Home Bonus will grant $15,000 to states and territories for each of the extra 200,000 homes they deliver.
The key now will be what specific planning reforms states and territories will now undertake to implement the Blueprint's broad-based principles.
Details for specific planning reform proposals in Victoria are reportedly imminent. One possibility is a wider application of the existing Future Homes two-year pilot program between the Office of the Victorian Government Architect, Department of Environment Land Water and Planning, and the City of Maribyrnong. This basically entails the streamlined delivery of pre-approved apartment development designs that are specifically exempted from Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal review, if located within 400 metres of an activity centre or train station, or on or backing onto a Transport Zone 2 or 3, or on a street nominated as a priority by the local council because of its access to open space, services or transport.
When the details of the planning reforms in Victoria are announced, we will provide a further update. In the meantime, you can read our previous article on the recommended reforms to town planning in Victoria in the recent Operation Sandon report.
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