Statement from Mayor Cr Lisa Hollingsworth

Today’s media statement issued by the Victorian Government titled 'Clearing The Backlog And Clearing A Path For More Homes' is simply disingenuous and misrepresents the facts to cover up their own failures.

The implication the Housing Statement has fast-tracked 60% of 1,400 developments is wrong. These applications were already well-progressed in the local government system.

The Victorian Government has not cleared any applications in Boroondara and taking credit for our work is not only misleading, but disrespectful to the hard work put in by applicants, our community and Council. The 22 permits the state is taking credit for were on track for completion when the Housing Statement was introduced and there is no link between our work and their statement.

Since releasing the Housing Statement, developers have experienced significant delays and major obstacles when attempting to use the Victorian Government’s Development Facilitation Program; with developers now applying directly to Council. To date, the state’s program has not delivered a single permit in Boroondara since the Housing Statement.

In their statement, the Victorian Government claims they are clearing the path for more housing in our City. Judging by their track record, we hope this doesn’t take them a decade to make a decision on their own projects in future.

When the Victorian Government removed Council from its role as Responsible Authority on 2 Victorian Government projects in Boroondara, Markham Estate and Bills Street Housing development, it took years for the state to finalise permits and commence construction.

The Markham Estate project in Ashburton was announced in 2015 and the Victorian Government wasted 6 years to obtain approvals for the development and did not complete this project until 2023. Vital public housing was demolished on this site in 2016 leaving a significant gap until now. It is the same story for the Bills Street site where the state has now wasted over 10 years since announcing the project and the site is still not complete.

The Auburn Road project still lacks transparency and is riddled with uncertainties, which is a reflection of the broader trend of this Victorian Government to limit local government involvement in major development projects. The successful purchaser of the site first briefed Council about the plans they were lodging with the Victorian Government in March 2022 following lengthy discussions with the Victorian Government. The final plans of this project are still not approved and it is not clear when this project will see the light of day.

On average, Boroondara Council receives more than 1,000 planning applications each year with only 3–4% refused. Most planning applications are approved following careful consideration with community input and negotiations with developers. Council will sometimes take longer than the statutory period to finalise a decision because it is attempting to negotiate an agreed outcome with a developer and community objectors rather than simply sending everything to the time consuming and expensive VCAT process for decision.

The only backlog confronting Victorians is the Victorian Government’s failure to adequately process its own applications, its failure to understand how the property market works and its failure to properly plan for housing and associated infrastructure in this state.

Statement from the Premier of Victoria

The Allan Labor Government’s bold reforms to the planning system have already reached a major milestone, with the backlog of housing approvals more than halfway cleared.

Since handing down the landmark Housing Statement, 60 per cent of the 1,400 planning permit applications for townhouses or apartments that had been sitting for more than six months waiting for a decision have been cleared.

In total, the approved developments represent 2,826 new dwellings. In the City of Boroondara alone, 22 permits from the backlog have been approved, for 53 new homes.

But it’s not just clearing the backlog – the Labor Government is also clearing the path for more housing by fast-tracking approvals, turning well-located underused land into quality housing that’s close to public transport, jobs and critical services.

In Hawthorn, a former University of Melbourne former campus will be transformed into a new mixed-use development providing about 350 homes – including at least 10 per cent affordable housing. 
As the land at 443-450 Auburn Road and 9 Bills Street is now surplus to the university’s needs, it has been rezoned for residential use and private sale, with an amendment introduced to the Boroondara Planning Scheme. 

With the new zone in place, the Minister has approved a Development Plan to guide future land use and keep the development appropriate. More than 2,500 square meters of publicly accessible open space and pedestrian links will be developed, while retaining the site’s mature trees. 

Additionally, as part of the Big Housing Build, Homes Victoria is currently developing land adjacent to this site for 206 new one, two and three bedroom social and affordable homes – and it’s nearing completion.

Together, the two developments will create a new 2.6 hectare precinct of integrated development with social, affordable and market housing.

Quotes attributable to Premier Jacinta Allan

“Having planning applications sitting in the system doesn’t help anyone – since September, we’ve already cleared over half the backlog so more Victorians can live close to great jobs, public transport and services.”

“Just at this one location, you can see how we are clearing the permits backlog, clearing the pathway for new housing, and building more social and affordable housing across Victoria.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Planning Sonya Kilkenny

“We’re using every lever at our disposal to create the conditions needed for our industry partners to build thousands of new homes.”