The Institute has been busy of late advocating to government for the profession and the built environment. In response to the growing demand to accelerate the delivery of housing and in particular affordable housing, the Institute, together with Fieldwork Projects, Assemble and their consultants, were delighted to guide the Minister of Planning, The Hon. Sonya Kilkenny with her adviser, the Parliamentary Secretary for Housing, Sheena Watts as well as the Director of Permits at the Department of Transport and Planning, Matt Cohen, around the award winning 38 Albermarle Street, Kensington as an exemplar of affordable housing. The tour was most appreciated by the Ministerial party and it was then followed by a broad reaching meeting between the Minister with her advisers and myself with our policy and advocacy manager, Reece Agland, where we explained how the Institute is well placed to advise on the development of government policy and procedures in the realm of the built environment. Topics included planning reform, the Framework for Reform (including ARBV and professional regulation), apartment design guidelines, OVGA and the potential reintroduction of the Living Heritage Fund. We have subsequently been invited to contribute to the current review of Plan Melbourne and a follow up meeting with the Minister has been arranged for late October.
With the plethora of community and media discussions surrounding the delivery of more housing, we have set up a housing delivery working group to facilitate development of institute policy on this topic and also to be best armed to advise government. The working group has met and established some initial thoughts on planning reform, delivery systems and urban strategies to better enable the acceleration of housing development which will prove invaluable in future discussions with government. This is clearly an area of significant interest in our profession and should members have views or thoughts on this topic that they wish to share, please do not hesitate to contact our State Manager, Daniel Moore.
Further to my earlier advice in June, I can also report that we have continued, together with the Association of Consulting Architects, to advocate on behalf of the profession through a series of meetings with the Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) on amending the base consultancy contract used across Victorian Government departments and agencies known as the ‘Victorian Public Sector Consultancy Agreement’ (short and long forms). The basis of our proposed amendments is that the existing agreement does not serve the Victorian Government nor consultants well, is not fully insurable and so does not work in the best interests of the Victorian community that it is intended to serve. We have been working through these proposals with DTF and hope to be able to bring some good news on that front shortly. It is anticipated that this collaborative approach with DTF will result in improved contracts which will assist government in its anticipated accelerated housing delivery programme. We also see these discussions as an initial step in a continuing dialogue to improve contractual relationships between government and industry and result in better outcomes for the development of the built environment.
David Wagner FRAIA
President of the Victorian Chapter