Victorian Chapter Advocacy Update

The latest Victorian advocacy update including a detailed briefing of the welcome, even if long overdue, Big Housing Build and solution to homelessness including highly unstable and substandard housing. 

Victoria's Big Housing Build

Many members will have heard the announcement made on Sunday November 15th, by the Victorian State Government, that the government Victoria will make a once in a generation $5.3 billion investment in social housing (both public housing delivered by government and community housing delivered by not-for-profit Community Housing Providers) to create 12,000 new dwellings over the next 5 years.

The announcement by Premier Andrews and Housing Minister, the Hon Richard Wynne, is remarkable for the scale of growth and the Institute has congratulated the Victorian Government for the initiative in a media release which can be found on our website here.

This is substantial growth against the backdrop of only 80,488 social housing dwellings in Victoria reported by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) in its Housing Assistance in Australia 2019 online publication.

Australia, and particularly Victoria, have an overall low ranking amongst OECD nations on the proportion of housing supply of delivered through social housing.

Homes Victoria is a newly formed public corporation, to be governed by a skills-based board, and exists within the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services portfolio. Homes Victoria will:

  • manage Victoria’s $26 billion of public housing assets,
  • oversee the delivery of the big Housing Build,
  • create a 10-year social housing strategy with the community housing sector that will also administer a community housing sector development fund, and develop a Social and Affordable Housing Compact with local government across the state. 

More information about Homes Victoria can be found here.

Victoria’s Big Housing Build is projected to spend $5.0b to deliver 9,300 social homes and 2900 mainly affordable homes (housing suitable for the needs of a range of very low to moderate income which might purchased or rented) comprising:

  • $532m to build new homes on public hand for 500 new social housing properties and 540 new affordable and market homes
  • $948m to fund projects already started or are “ready to build” and to spot purchase 1,600 new social housing properties and 200 new affordable homes
  • $1.38b to fund community housing sector projects that will deliver up to 4,200 new homes
  • $2.14b of funding for partnerships with the private and community housing sectors to deliver up to 5,200 new homes.

A further $300m of spending will support the Public Housing system.

Projects to be delivered by both the $532m and $948 of spending are commencing now or as early as possible.

Funding additional to the above $5.3b is also being committeed through $498m for new construction, upgrades and maintenance projects on existing housing and $185m to replace old public housing stock with new dwellings

$948m of “front loaded” funding is being made available through a number of different elements. One element, involving spot purchases is already underway. Another element, the announcement of rapid grants has commenced with a Request for Proposal (RFP) via Tenders Vic website. Homes Victoria are seeking to purchase ‘shovel ready’ projects from the private sector, where there is a development that has planning approval, a builder and plans in place.

An example is EOI RFPSTIM4MDIP0503, a DHHS Request for Proposal for Homes Victoria’s Purchase Program – In Progress and Ready to Build Developments Fast Start Projects. This Request for Proposal opened on Monday 16 November and closes on 17 December.

Key points in the tender information are, the RFP is seeking the following key requirements for participating:

  • Residential and mixed-use developments;
  • All dwelling types and sizes (excluding studio apartments);
  • Projects need to be well located in relation to public transport; retail; services and other amenities;
  • Projects are within inner and middle ring regions of metropolitan Melbourne; growth areas; peri urban LGA’s such as Mitchell and Moorabool Shire; regional cities and urban centres.
  • Dwellings will need to be settled and available for occupation by no later than end of 2023; 
  • Projects will need to demonstrate a discount to market value due to wholesale nature of the proposed purchase;   
  • The proponent experience and capability to deliver the project within the agreed timelines; and
  • The proposed transaction structure preference is for a 10% deposit and balance on settlement of dwellings.

Eligible participants are any sized developer, including registered builders, developers and product marketers who can transact on behalf of a developer or property owner.

You can find all the documents here (you must log in to download the documents).

A briefing is being run to provide information on the Request for Proposal including the type of proposals being sought; the requirements for participation and the evaluation process.  The Live Event will start at 10.00 am on Wednesday 25 November 2020. Join the live stream here.

If you are unable to attend, the event will be recorded. You will be able to access the recording via the same live stream link provided above, which will remain available till the closing date of the Request for Proposal, which is 2:00 pm (AEDT) on Thursday 17 December 2020.

At an online community briefing conducted by Homes Victoria, the Chapter heard from Julian Lyngcoln, Deputy Secretary Planning and Associate Secretary at Victoria’s Department of Land, Environment, Water and Planning (DELWP) about the proposed streamlining of planning approvals proposed to expedite delivery of the new housing. Some of the main points highlighted by the Deputy Secretary included:

  • New provisions will be made in the Victorian Planning Provisions that will apply to all zones, except Industrial and Ports, that exempt the normal notice requirements to surrounding properties and appeals/ review of decisions processes so long as amenity and site requirements are met to protect neighbours. These provisions have not yet been gazetted. It is estimated the new provisions will save approximately 12 months of typical lead-in time to construction.
  • There will be a separate process outside of the normal planning pathway. However community consultation will be required and all requirements will still need to be met in relation to environmental, design or heritage overlays.
  • There will also be requirements and standards on the Residential Development Standards (ResCode) that will provide greater certainty to surrounding neighbours about the design outcome,  and also provide certainty for proponents of designed projects if they are designed to the ResCode standards. However, this streamlining will not exempt bushfire planning, environmental audits or environmental effects statements.
  • For “business as usual” projects of less than 10 dwellings, approvals will go through local government. However, for projects of 10 dwellings approvals will be performed by the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change. They will not be performed by the Planning Minister due to conflict of interest as Victoria’s Planning Minister, Richard Wynne is also the Housing Minister ultimately responsible for this whole initiative together with the Premier.

Two other interesting sub-points for Architects that appear in the side panel on page 8 of the Victoria’s Big Housing Build launch paper.

  • Big Housing Build projects will promote good design. Major projects (more than 100 units or 3 storeys) will undergo Office of the Victorian Government Architect design reviews.
  • All dwellings will have Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS) average ratings of at least 7 stars and certified minimum 5 Star rating Green Star.

In conclusion it is a welcome, even if long overdue, solution to homelessness including highly unstable and substandard housing. However, importantly, it is also a well-timed investment given the strong stimulatory effect it will deliver for Victoria’s COVID-19 economic recovery.