The Australian Institute of Architects supports the Victorian Government focus on supply through planning reform and design principles, as it seeks to deliver on affordable housing.
Following today’s announcement of the Andrews’ Government housing statement, the Victorian Chapter of the Institute welcomed the proposed rezoning of 45 sites and the streamlining of planning, aimed at boosting supply.
Victoria Chapter President David Wagner said the Institute would work through the policy over the coming weeks, and committed to collaborating closely with the government to implement the reforms.
“It is pleasing that the State Government has taken a long-term view in its housing statement to address the issues rather than a series of short-term fixes,” he said.
With predictions that Victoria could hit a population of 10.3 million by 2051, construction of 1.6 million homes over the next 28 years needs to be managed carefully to maintain Victoria’s standard of living.
It is a balance of achieving greater densities in a managed fashion, but also recognising there are opportunities inherent in this wave of development to enhance the infrastructure and amenity of existing towns and cities to the benefit of existing and future communities across Victoria.
The Institute has campaigned for many years for government to put design at the forefront of housing policy, as well as the need to address issues of supply, planning reform and more social and affordable housing.
“It is fundamentally important that future housing is well designed to provide an enduring residential legacy that is environmentally sustainable and resilient,” he said.
Every new home that is built is not only a dwelling but also an investment by the community in material, energy and carbon resources, so it is critical that the new housing is well designed to serve Victoria of the future as well as today.
“We are encouraged by the State Government’s willingness to work with industry bodies such as the Australian Institute of Architects to help in the design and roll out of such a vast investment in housing and we stand ready to assist in any way we can.”
In particular, the Institute believes our members can assist the government in the following areas:
- Investigating how adaptive reuse of underutilised buildings, such as empty office towers, may provide part of the housing solution
- Developing fast-track planning reforms that focus on quality, livability and climate adaptability
- Ensuring minimum requirements for social and affordable housing units within fast-tracked apartment applications
- Focusing on how Design Review Panels can speed up quality apartment design, as recommended by the Inquiry into Apartment Design Standards
- Opening up government-owned underutilised land for rapid infill development, and
- Empowering planning professionals, addressing political involvement in the planning process and limiting rights to appeal.
Mr Wagner said the adaptive reuse of buildings was strongly supported by members on sustainability grounds. “From addressing land availability, embedded carbon and efficiency in creating new housing, adaptive reuse has to be part of the conversation,” he said.
The design requirements for office towers and apartments do differ, particularly in relation to airflow, natural light and plumbing, so it requires special design skills, skills that are unique to our members. We are keen to work with the government on a taskforce to examine broader engagement with adaptive reuse.”
The Institute is also heartened that design, livability and climate readiness have been included in the housing statement.