Manifesto Summary

The State Government falsely claims that resident objections and local council controls have caused a lack of housing supply. Further deregulating housing approvals and excluding residents and local government from the approvals process is undemocratic, will not help housing affordability or amenity, and will be an improper gift to property developers.

We the residents of Melbourne and surrounds, call on the State government to be accurate and transparent about the real causes of housing supply shortages, high housing prices, and the loss of amenity and to take action to address these causes.

  • Land supply is not the problem
  • Resident involvement in planning is not to blame
  • Regulated planning is not to blame
  • Regulated planning is also not to blame for affordable and social housing shortages
  • Protecting amenity is not to blame for housing shortages and higher prices


Land supply is not the problem

  • Councils routinely approve over 90 per cent of all planning applications, more than meeting demand.
  • Housing approvals in middle ring suburbs have consistently been among Melbourne’s highest.

In fact, the real reason for housing supply shortages and high costs are:

  • Thousands of approved developments have never been built. Manipulating housing supply and available housing types impacts costs.
  • Short stay accommodation removes many properties from longer term rent.
  • Increased costs (materials, labour, supply chain, taxes on investors, rising interest rates) are the main reasons for the recent decrease in housing construction, yet the State government has no plan to deal with these issues.
  • A number of government fiscal and monetary policies have led to increased land values and housing costs.


Resident involvement in planning is not to blame

  • NIMBY-ism is falsely blamed for a myriad of planning woes such as the lack of housing in the middle-ring suburbs (the ‘missing middle’).

In fact, resident involvement ensures better quality housing:

  • The rights of residents to object (aka third-party appeal rights) tend to improve the quality of governance, lead to better planning decisions through greater accountability, and discourage corrupt behaviour between developers and local government.

Action required:

  • Institute collaborative planning between the State, local council and community to create higher quality developments, as well as social and economic benefits.


Regulated planning is not to blame

  • The current planning system is relatively deregulated and land use controls are largely permissive.

In fact, the real reason for housing supply shortages and high costs are:

  • An absence of regulation which increases land and apartment prices, as well as resulting in poor quality medium and high density developments, a lack of open space, and a loss of canopy cover — outcomes that will get worse.
  • Current deregulated planning systems encourage developers to bid up the price of land, and then raise building heights, and further increase densities to compensate and recoup their costs.
  • A planning scheme weighted to assist developers advantages powerful vested interests to the detriment of the community. 

Action required:

  • Tighten planning regulations such as mandatory height controls and tree retention, to increase certainty and efficiency in approvals, then housing and approval costs will drop.
  • Support a single robust planning system that operates for all users (without the use of alternative planning pathways like fast-tracking)


Regulated planning is also not to blame for affordable and social housing shortages

  • Melbourne has experienced a massive high-rise boom since 2005.
  • Almost 40,000 units could have been created had the State government required that 25% of each high-rise approved be given to social and affordable housing.

In fact, the real reason for affordable and social housing shortages are:

  • The State government does not require any social or affordable housing in new private sector developments, regardless of whether there are increases in height, density or land value.
  • The State government has failed to ensure a sufficient supply of social housing.

Action required:

  • The State government must require a much larger percentage of social and affordable housing in new private developments and must commit to investing in social housing.


Protecting amenity is not to blame for housing shortages and higher prices

  • Environmental and heritage protection including tree retention is a necessary precondition for environmental, social and economic development.
  • Protecting green wedges preserves land for conservation, agriculture and our future environmental health.
  • The Port Phillip region is the state’s second most valuable agricultural area. Melbourne cannot afford to lose this economic and environmental asset.

In fact, the loss of amenity leads to poor economic outcomes over the longer-term.

  • The land use planning system is being used as a tool to destroy heritage, including trees, unnecessarily plundering amenity values for short-term benefits.
  • Dismantling of green belt policy protections, such as a fixed urban growth boundary, and of prohibited uses for Green Wedge, Farming and Rural conservation Zones are threats to economic and environmental amenity.
  • Melbourne’s future growth can fit into the designated urban growth corridors in the south-east, west and north, and within the existing metropolitan area; there is no need to develop the green belt.

Action required:

  • The heritage overlay be rewritten to include clear, quantified and mandatory content, placing emphasis on the need to protect built and natural heritage.
  • Reinstate protection of the Green Wedge and Rural zones from urban and other inappropriate uses.
  • Restrict urban uses to urban corridors and maintain the urban growth boundary.
  • Ensure planning scheme provisions in the green belt are matched to land characteristics.

Want to know more? Read the full Liveable Victoria Manifesto