VIC government unveils planning reforms

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The Property Council of Australia approves of the Victorian government’s record infrastructure budget spend and investment in skills and training.

“This investment is necessary to turn the challenge of our booming growth into an opportunity for a more prosperous and liveable Victoria,” the Property Council said. It added that the government’s investment must be accompanied by long-term improvements to the planning system, which is needed to accommodate the 140,000 new Victorians annually.  

“With property taxes at 48 percent of state revenue, more money can and should be directed to deliver more … diverse housing supply and transport-oriented density across metropolitan Melbourne,” said Michael Zorbas, interim Victorian executive director of the Property Council.

According to Richard Wynne, the Minister of Planning, reforms to planning will make it easier to build or renovate a home, prevent cladding fires, and ensure that Victorian apartments are built to the highest standards of quality.

The Andrews Labor government’s 2018-19 budget includes an allocation of $14.7m to slash red tape and get new homes and renovations finished faster by putting an end to protracted permit applications for simple projects.

“Victorians living in high rise buildings will be protected from combustible cladding fires, with a $25 million boost for safety inspections and to crack down on builders who flout the rules,” said Wynne.

“With more people choosing to live and work and visit Victoria, $9.7 million has been allocated to process more planning permits, and $3.5 million will help councils do faster subdivision approvals.”

With the State Election due on November 24, the Property Council has made the following recommendations:

1. Introduce tax policies that stimulate foreign investment in commercial and residential property.

Overseas investment is often essential to getting bank approval for office developments and inner-city housing. Support for overseas investment includes reinstating stamp duty concessions for off-the-plan apartment purchases in the Melbourne CBD and a review of the impact of the absentee owners’ land tax surcharge.

2. Unveil planning policies that support a strong CBD.

Since the introduction of the Melbourne Planning Scheme Amendment C270, permits for commercial developments in the CBD have slowed considerably. This red tape could cause large tenants to choose other jurisdictions over Melbourne, which may eventually lead to a slowdown of job growth in Victoria.

“It is vital that government and industry work in partnership on the establishment of major residential and commercial precincts and balanced CBD planning controls,” the Property Council said.

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