Growth projections “a concern for Council”

by JAMES POYNER
8th July 2024

MANNINGHAM Council is preparing a submission to the State Government in response to proposed housing targets that would see 1,500 new dwellings built across Manningham per year.
Manningham Mayor Carli Lange said the proposed target of 39,000 new dwellings by 2051 represents a 76 per cent increase over 26 years, is a significant increase in growth projections for Manningham.
“Over many years, Manningham Council has accepted growth, planned for growth, and managed growth in a balanced and incremental way — in close consultation with our local community.
“The increased growth projections, and absence of detailed information provided, are a concern for Council, however we welcome the opportunity to engage with the State Government to ensure positive outcomes for the future of housing in Manningham.
“We’re eager to better understand the thinking and data behind the targets and how the State and Federal Governments will support the market to provide this additional housing,” said the Mayor.
As reported in recent editions, Manningham Council engaged with the community through feedback on its Residential Discussion Paper and Activity Centre Design Concepts.
The Diary, while reporting on these important issues, highlighted the significant threat to the amenity of Yarra Ward villages such as Warrandyte and Park Orchards, which were set to see significant development around the Goldfields Plaza and Hopetoun Road shopping areas as part of Council’s response to State Government housing targets.
As part of the Residential Discussion Paper consultation, more than 70 per cent of respondents said the “look and feel of their suburb” was their main reason for living there.
Respondents also identified a need for more diverse housing types, including more single-level townhouses for downsizers and larger housing for intergenerational families.
When asked about preferred housing types needed for the future, single dwellings were the top choice (40 per cent), followed by townhouses (23 per cent).
The community expressed similar values and preferences in their feedback on the Activity Centre Design Concepts.
As an indication of how engaged Yarra Ward communities are, Council said around half of the survey participants identified as visiting Park Orchards and Warrandyte Goldfield activity centres most often.
Many respondents urged the importance of protecting these areas from development because of the sensitive environment, valued character and amenity, and lack of public transport.
“The valuable community insights received through our recent consultations will help inform our submission to the State Government,” Cr Lange said.
“Plans for future housing growth should respect the valued neighbourhood attributes of local communities. “Planning also needs to ensure that the housing delivered is diverse and provides for a range of incomes, lifestyles, and life stages.
“It should also consider the impact on core infrastructure (roads, footpaths, drainage, community facilities), the environment, public transport, traffic and more.
“In addition to commercial development, we also expect that our major and neighbourhood activity centres will play an integral role in accommodating urban growth and development in Manningham,” she said.
Recently, neighbouring Boorondara Council released a statement condemning the housing target projections for its municipality, which was proposed to accommodate 67,000 new dwellings by 2051, a significant increase.

“The State Government’s approach to the housing crisis is both disappointing and flawed.
The need for additional housing is understood, but any suggestion that setting housing targets will solve this challenge or even be an effective tool is misleading for several reasons.”

Boroondara Council goes on to state that the housing crisis is a result of poor planning and should be the responsibility of the State and Federal Governments, not local councils.
Housing targets for its municipality represent a 300 per cent increase each year without any commitments to supporting the growth of surrounding infrastructure.
Its third point is that housing targets do not build houses; developers do — local councils cannot force developers to build housing for which they have approval.
The Boroondara release concludes: “Community well-being and sustainable housing supply should be our focus, not short-term politically motivated measures designed to deflect responsibility.
We look forward to a more holistic approach.” Similarly, Nillumbik Shire Council is also planning a submission to the State Government regarding its proposed increase of 53 per cent by 2051 — 12,000 new dwellings.
The Nillumbik statement says: “We recognise the need to increase the number and types of available housing in areas where our community needs it most, close to infrastructure, services, jobs and transport.
However, we need to do this in a way that supports what our community values so highly about living in the Green Wedge Shire, particularly the protection of Nillumbik’s unique character and environment.”
Sadly, politics is never straightforward, and while it is commendable that local councils are listening to their ratepayers regarding State Government housing targets, development around Box Hill and the Suburban Rail Loop provides a cautionary tale.
In May, Whitehorse Council released a statement regarding the State Government’s plans to accommodate 70,000 homes and 230,000 jobs around six Suburban Rail Loop precincts, which includes towers up to 40 storeys high in Box Hill and 20 storeys high in Burwood.
Whitehorse Council had advocated for better collaboration between local council and the Suburban Loop Rail Authority (SLRA) in February 2024, but were not consulted prior to the release of the plans.
Mayor Denise Massoud acknowledged the need for more housing and jobs but said increases must be balanced with the provision of open space and other amenities.
Increases in height and density on the scale proposed by SRLA will be a significant change for Burwood, where most dwellings are one or two storeys.
“It’s critical the Victorian Government works with Council to ensure new public open space is provided, as the Box Hill and Burwood populations and their workforces are set to more than double by 2056,” Cr Massoud said.
“We’d love to have our own ‘Central Park’ or ‘Fitzroy Gardens’ right here in Box Hill, which would bring enormous social, environmental, and economic benefits to the liveability of our city right now and into the future.
“We support the Suburban Rail Loop’s transport improvements but stress the need for transparent planning that puts the community’s interests first and includes collaboration with Council.”
Cr Massoud concludes: “As the local Council, we have unique insight into local issues and opportunities.
We need to be part of these decisions.”
The projected population increase in Australia and our major cities has triggered this planning scenario.
How do urban communities protect their amenities while addressing housing shortages?
Do we need to make sacrifices, or should the State and Federal Governments focus on making regional cities more attractive to businesses and residents?
Send your thoughts on this issue to editor@warrandytediary.com.au.