Local councils in Melbourne and regional Victoria will be accountable for unlocking adequate levels of new housing supply within their municipalities following the release of draft long-term housing targets.

And wealthy inner and middle Melbourne councils are being put on notice that they will need to deliver their fair share of new housing.

The Victorian Government has released a series of draft housing targets covering each of the state’s 79 local council areas (LGA).

For each LGA, the targets outline how many new dwellings will need to be delivered between now and 2051 in order for that municipality to accommodate its fair share of new housing provision.

Under the targets, areas within Greater Melbourne – which is expected to be the main focus of population growth – will be required to accommodate greater housing stock expansion compared with regional areas.

Across Greater Melbourne, most municipalities will need to double or nearly double their existing housing stock in order to meet their target.

Within Melbourne, the targets also aim to ensure that wealthier inner and middle LGAs contribute their fair share of new housing additions.

In Boroondara in Melbourne’s inner to inner east, for example, a total of 67,000 new homes will need to be delivered on top of the municipality’s existing housing stock of 74,600.

According to the Government, this represents a considerably higher rate of dwelling growth compared with what the municipality has historically achieved.

Meanwhile, municipalities on the line of the Suburban Rail Loop East corridor such as Monash and Kingston will also need to nearly double their housing provision. This recognises the development opportunities which are envisaged along this corridor as the line is constructed.

However, the targets still indicate that some greenfield areas on Melbourne’s outer urban fringe will need to absorb much of the new housing.

The outer northern shire of Mitchell, for example, will be expected to quadruple its housing stock from 21,800 in 2023 to 87,800 by 2051.

Meanwhile, the outer western shire of Melton will need to almost triple its housing stock from 69,300 in 2023 to 181,300 in 2051.

Across regional areas, meanwhile, greater housing development is expected to be mostly concentrated around major regional centres.

Greater Geelong, for example, will be expected to more than double its existing housing stock from 127,300 in 2023 to 266,100 by 2051. Ballarat will be expected to nearly double its dwelling stock from 53,000 to 99,000 over that time.

By contrast, the less populated far western shire of West Wimmera will need to add only 200 dwellings to its current total of 2,300.

The draft targets come amid ongoing concern that Victoria will need to plan carefully in order to cater for a growing population.

According to Victorian Government projections, the state’s population is expected to expand from 6.8 million in 2023 to 10.3 million in 2051.

This includes an additional 2.9 million people in the Melbourne Metropolitan Area alone, taking the city’s metropolitan population from 5.1 million to 8.0 million.

The targets also come amid concern that wealthier inner and middle suburban councils have effectively locked up large areas within their municipalities.

This has forced less wealthy outer urban areas to shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden which is associated with accommodating new housing growth.

In the city of Boroondara, for example, the local council has applied the most restrictive zone to 90 percent of the municipality. This is despite the fact that that almost every resident within the municipality lives within 800m of a train line, tram line or activity centre and despite the municipality offering excellent access to employment, education and amenity.

In addition to population needs, each council’s targets have been determined according to:

  • proximity to transport (existing and planned), services, amenity and employment
  • environmental hazards such as flood and bushfire risk; and
  • current development trends and places already identified for more homes (such as precincts along the Suburban Rail Loop).

The targets have also been developed with the Victorian Government’s objective of ensuring that 70 percent of new housing growth is accommodated in established areas.

This objective was stated in the Government’s Housing Statement, which established a goal of delivering 800,000 new homes across the state over ten years.

Feedback on the draft targets is currently being sought, with final targets expected to be released by the end of the year.

Once finalised, the targets will form part of a blueprint which is expected to guide Victoria’s long-term development.

(Wealthy inner and middle municipalities such as the City of Boroondara will need to nearly double their housing stock and contribute to new housing provision so as to avoid outer urban areas needing to shoulder a disproportionate share of new housing provision)

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allen welcomed the release of the targets.

“To give industry the confidence they need to get on and build, we need Government and all councils working towards the same goal: more homes for Victorians – in the right places,” Allan said.

Urban planners have cautiously welcomed the new draft targets.

Patrick Fensham, President of the Planning Institute of Australia (Victoria), said that housing targets have value but need to be more than just numbers.

In addition to broad targets, Fensham called for the planning system to also include targets for ‘housing capacity’ and ‘housing diversity’.

Targets in respect of housing capacity identify the quantity of land that is required to meet future demand for homes along with the quality of that land to achieve livability and sustainability.

Those relating to ‘diversity’ identify the different types of and size of housing which is needed, including its affordability.

“PIA (Victoria) supports the introduction of local government housing targets if they are used in an effective manner,” Fensham said.

“When devised and used appropriately, targets are a useful tool for local planning to support the supply of well-designed and well-located homes and the delivery of associated services and infrastructure by both the public and private sectors, ultimately creating livable communities.”

Meanwhile, Maxwell Shifman, CEO of Intrapac Property and a past president of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (National), wrote in a LinkedIn post that whilst goals and targets are fundamental to success.

However, he said that housing targets need to specify a range of matters if they are to be successful.

These include:

  • the types of housing to be delivered (units, townhouses etc.)
  • the demographics and configuration of the dwellings to meet their needs
  • assumed cost of dwellings to buyers
  • infrastructure investments that will be needed to support them
  • planning and regulatory changes that are needed to reduce barriers to delivery; and
  • incentives/disincentives that will exist to ensure that targets are met.

To highlight challenges in meeting the targets, Shifman said cited middle ring municipalities of Dandenong and Knox in Melbourne’s east.

To meet targets, both would need to more than double their current rate of new housing additions and both would need to almost be doubled their overall housing stock.

With minimal developable land supply, both municipalities would need to do this within their existing footprint – something he says is not possible without radical changes in planning.

He says politicians need to move beyond lofty targets and to implement rapid actions to fix problems.

“We are moving too slow to address the #housingcrisis in the short term, and the focus seems to be on more plans and announcements, instead of rapid actions to fix problems and deliver what will actually work,” Shifman wrote.

“I’ll be the first to support any concrete evidence or process that demonstrates how these targets will be actually met, at scale, instead of just more headlines.

“I’m waiting.”


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