Victorian move to recognise Social Impacts of Developments will slow down the Production of Housing

The move by the Victorian Government to require the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to recognise social impacts and to involve communities more in planning determinations will slow down building production, says the Urban Taskforce.

“Recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics puts Victoria in a very robust position in terms of building construction. In the March Quarter Victoria building construction was at $1,172 per person while NSW, where the involvement of communities in planning is much higher, was only $808 per person.”

“A Productivity Commission Report on planning across Australia in 2011 found that 64% of Sydneysiders were against growth compared to 52% in Melbourne. This is partly a result of raising expectations in Sydney about what communities can be involved in.”

“Clearly communities must be involved in the planning process but this is best done at the strategic planning end rather than at the determination end when it should be clear how a project fits with the rules. The proposed planning reforms in NSW stressed the importance of front end involvement to avoid the site by site battles that create so much hostility.”

“It seems that Victoria, with an amendment titled ‘Recognising Objectors’, is now heading down the NSW path where communities can influence determinations based on social reasons even if the project complies with the rules. The social impacts of development are often very subjective and open to many interpretations. Most communities are wary of change so any new development will have an impact on the existing community who may now be in their rights to stop new development that upsets local social cohesion.”

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