Victoria’s planning system has too much discretion. We have few mandatory controls, which means that developers are able to twist the rules to maximise their yields and profits.
The design of the Victorian planning system as a ‘performance’ based system versus a ‘control’ based system has resulted in discretionary planning controls becoming the default type of planning rule used for most decisions. This means that developers are easily able to breach planning controls (such as height) to increase their yields and profits. Our system needs more mandatory controls across the entire scheme to increase certainty in the system and create good quality sustainable liveable neighbourhoods.
The Greens' plan includes:
New minimum apartment sizes and a medium / high density design code
Medium density apartment living is the future of housing in Victoria. Gone are the days when apartments were dark dog boxes - nowadays we are seeing more high-quality, carefully designed, sustainable apartments that will be long-term homes for people and families. However, there’s more to do to ensure our medium and high density developments are as liveable as possible.
The Greens' plan includes reviewing the Victorian Planning Provisions to introduce a new building code for medium density development and high density development. This would introduce minimum standards for apartments to improve sustainability, affordability and liveability, and make the Better Apartment Design Guidelines mandatory.
The new guidelines would also mandate minimum apartment sizes for all new apartment developments:
- 37 square metres for a studio.
- 50 square metres for a 1 bedroom apartment.
- 65 square metres for a 2 bedroom apartment.
- 90 square metres for a 3 bedroom apartment.
A permanent, legislated urban growth boundary and better green wedge protection
Our green wedges are our city’s lungs. They are an important boundary for our urban sprawl, and include vital agricultural land that grows a wide variety of fresh foods. But since the urban growth boundary was introduced in 2002, it has been varied several times leading to increasing speculation and land banking, driving up prices and reducing the availability of agricultural land. We are still seeing too many inappropriate developments encroach upon green wedge land.
The Greens' plan includes legislating for a permanent urban growth boundary and ensuring our green wedges are better protected.
Mandatory height controls or maximum density ratios
The Greens' plan would allow mandatory height controls to be introduced for areas that have completed and submitted strategic justification through a planning scheme amendment process. For areas where mandatory height controls are considered less suitable, mandatory maximum density ratios could be applied for. This would reduce speculation, put downward pressure on land prices and deliver a built environment that has been agreed to by the community.
Reviewing the VicSmart assessment process
While the VicSmart system was intended to be a streamlined process for improving the efficiency of decision making, it has ended up adding more procedural complexity to an already overly complicated system. There are also concerning reports that the system is facilitating the destruction of trees in the city, as developers are able to submit multiple single tree removal applications, which can be assessed in 10 business days
The Greens would like to conduct a full review of the VicSmart process to evaluate whether it has actually improved the efficiency of decision making. We believe system streamlining for minor matters is better achieved through simplification and increased certainty of the core planning controls.
New bi-annual reporting by planning authorities on the use of discretionary planning controls
To improve transparency of the use of discretion, councils and the Minister for Planning would need to provide bi-annual reports about the performance and use of planning controls with detailed analysis and rationales for decisions where discretion has been used and controls have been varied.
Minimum ministerial approval timelines
When councils approve a new planning scheme amendment to their local planning scheme, the amendment then goes to the minister for final approval. However, too often amendments sit on the minister’s desk for months, leaving council and communities waiting months for much-needed reforms. The Greens' plan amends the Planning and Environment Act to introduce a 60-day timeline for planning scheme amendments to be approved by the minister.