Community input on housing strategy

by SANDI MILLER
8th April 2024

MELBOURNE’S population is growing, currently topping 5.3 million; it is predicted to surpass 6M by 2035 and 8M by 2051.

This surge in population is a significant factor in the current housing crisis, causing housing affordability to be at a generational low.

In September 2023, the Victorian Government released Victoria’s Housing Statement: The decade ahead 2024–2034, setting a target to build 800,000 homes in Victoria over the next decade.

For those living in green wedge townships like Warrandyte, the ever-present spectre of suburban encroachment is more real than ever.

However, thankfully, both state and local governments are working to protect the green wedge by establishing high-density centres around shopping precincts and main roads.

As reported in the March M&N Bulletin, the State Government also released the Green Wedge and Agricultural Land Action Plan in mid-March, aiming to enshrine planning protections in planning policy.

At its March 26 meeting, Council endorsed the Manningham Residential Discussion Paper (March 2024) to be put out for community consultation in April and May.

Councillors discussed the municipality’s unique range of urban and leafy suburbs, rural lifestyle areas and vibrant activity centres.

However, with the population expected to increase by more than 18,000 in the next 12 years, more than 8,000 new homes will be needed in Manningham.

Today, most of the population in Manningham live in single detached homes.

As the community changes, Council says it will need to plan for a range of homes catering to varying needs and different life stages.

Councillors heard how the location of future housing also needs to be carefully planned to support the affordability, sustainability, and character of Manningham’s suburbs.

Cr Geoff Gough spoke to the endorsement motion.

“There are a lots of issues in where we should build, and this is what the discussion paper [addresses] — where we should put high density, at what height we should do it, how dense it should be.

“But the thing that is going to hit local government is the absolute cost of extra infrastructure, because that infrastructure is going to be put onto ratepayers and local government to build that infrastructure.

“We know we have already got pressures on sporting grounds and things, we already know we are way behind with roads, and we have huge drainage problems, but when it comes to more intense development, it is going to put huge issues onto Council that we have to make provision for into the future.

“We do have a residential strategy, but the state government in recent times have moved in a number of policy areas, which have thrown up a number of questions that we are going to have to address into the future.

“This document is going to go out to public consultation, and we are going to do a revised residential strategy.”

The first stage in developing the new residential strategy is the preparation of the Manningham Residential Discussion Paper, which identifies four themes to underpin Manningham’s housing future:

  • Location and connectedness
  • Housing design quality
  • Neighbourhood character
  • Housing choice, diversity and affordability

Mayor of Manningham Carli Lange told the meeting these themes would set the foundation for how growth is managed and how Council and community can work together to achieve desired outcomes for all.

A survey has been prepared as part of the engagement activities and will seek community feedback on current and future housing needs of the existing neighbourhood character precincts.

  • Council will also be seeking feedback on its draft Neighbourhood Character Study, which has identified nine neighbourhood character precincts:
  • Garden Court 1: Doncaster East, Templestowe Lower and Wonga Park (south)
  • Garden Court 2: Matthew’s subdivision, Tindals Road Donvale
  • Garden Suburban: Bulleen, Doncaster, Doncaster East and Lower Templestowe
  • Infill/Contemporary: Main roads — Doncaster Road, Manningham Road, Williamsons Road
  • Remnant Bush Low Density: Donvale, Park Orchards, Wonga Park, Warrandyte, Templestowe
  • Exotic Bush Low Density: Wembley Gardens, Donvale
  • Templestowe Low Density: Templestowe, Lower Templestowe
  • Warrandyte Bush Garden: Warrandyte
  • Rural Lifestyle: Warrandyte South, Donvale, Park Orchards, Wonga Park, and isolated pockets of Templestowe and Lower Templestowe

Cr Anna Chen told the meeting the existing 2012 Manningham Residential Strategy and associated planning controls have been generally successful in meeting the municipality’s housing growth objectives.

In particular, the strategy has been instrumental in directing higher-density housing to the preferred locations, namely along main roads and surrounding activity centres.

“We have to be mindful that since then, the State Government has implemented several new city-shaping infrastructure projects across Melbourne — the Big Build, which includes the Eastern Freeway upgrade and the North East Link.

“Last year, the Victorian Government released the Housing strategy, it introduced streamlined pathways for housing related assessments including a greater ministerial role, which means the minister can intervene if she wishes.”

Council will hold Stage 1 consultation on the Residential Discussion Paper, which is proposed for six weeks from April 8 to May 19 via Your Say Manningham: yoursay.Manningham.vic/gov.au/residential-strategy.

Ringwood identified as Activity Centre

Building more homes up — not just out — in established suburbs is one of many initiatives outlined in the Housing Statement.

Communities across 10 established Melbourne suburban centres are being given a chance to have their say on the State Government’s plans to build more homes close to jobs, transport, and public services.

Minister for Planning Sonya Kilkenny said, “As part of our landmark Housing Statement, we’re enabling 60,000 more homes to be built across established suburbs, ensuring more Victorians have access to affordable housing close to services, jobs and transport.”

Ringwood was one of the initial 10 suburban centres chosen for their potential to accommodate more homes while ensuring access to amenities.

The Ringwood Activity Centre is between the Ringwood Bypass and the train line, including Eastland Shopping Centre, Ringwood Square Shopping Centre, Realm, Ringwood Lake Park, and surrounding shops, parks, and municipal buildings.

The project is reviewing building heights and design rules for the Ringwood Activity Centre to allow for more, good-quality homes to be built in the area.

This project will build on the City of Maroondah’s existing work for Ringwood, including the Ringwood Major Activity Centre (MAC) Master Plan.

Insights from Maroondah Council’s existing work, new input from Council, and community engagement will inform the development of clear new rules for the area.

“We’re working with local councils to guide investment in the things that matter to you, like improved streets, parks and community infrastructure,” the Minister said.

As plans for the Activity Centres develop, she said the Government will work closely with communities and councils to review design requirements and building heights.

Residents are encouraged to have their say on what they love most about their area to help shape the future of their communities.

Victoria is the fastest-growing state in the country, so these changes are crucial to accommodate Melbourne’s growing population, which is set to be the size of London’s by the 2050s.

“We want to hear from communities on how best we can accommodate more housing choices while ensuring their suburbs maintain their liveability,” said Ms Kilkenny.”

Feedback will also guide investment in the things a thriving, liveable, and growing suburb needs, such as community facilities, public spaces, and parks.

For more information, visit vpa.vic.gov.au/metropolitan/activity-centres.