Victorian Integrated Housing Strategy released

WITH a multiplicity of aims and objectives, the Victorian Integrated Housing Strategy has been released this month, outlining a series of priorities across five strategic directions: 'home buyers', 'tenants in the private market', 'social housing', 'homeless Victorians' and 'better homes'.

To summarise, the strategy aims to deliver diverse and affordable housing options, significantly reduce homelessness, create an 'efficient and flexible' planning system, ensure a greater supply of affordable and social housing and achieve 'better designed homes'.

Major strategies of the report include:

  • To increase the supply of housing in existing urban areas by freeing up surplus government land;
  • New planning initiatives to ensure that the supply of housing keeps pace with population growth and demographic change
  • Initiatives to stimulate private sector investment in the rental market
  • Improved rights for tenants and better standards in rooming houses
  • A 10-year Victorian homelessness strategy and an emphasis on prevention and early intervention
  • Support for better housing design.
  • Written by Urbanalyst

Madden censured by Victorian Upper house

THE UPPER House of the Victorian Parliament yesterday passed a no-confidence motion against the Minister for Planning, Justin Madden. The no-confidence motion was a result of the accidentally released media strategy by Mr Madden's media adviser, which proposed a sham consultation process for the Windsor Hotel redevelopment. The motion was passed 19 votes for, 18 against.

It is the second time Mr Madden has been censured by Parliament and reportedly the first time in 100 years that a Victorian minister has been received two no-confidence motions by the Parliament. Mr Madden was censured last year for his involvement in the Brimbank Council saga.

Mr Madden has denied any involvement in the production of the document, calling it a "brainstorming document" made entirely by his media adviser.

Opposition MP David Davis told the Upper House that Mr Madden had damaged public confidence in the planning system. "He has allowed things to occur in his office which are unacceptable," he said.

A parliamentary inquiry into the Minister's handling of the Windsor Hotel project is due to commence today.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Mildura Planning Taskforce releases final report; Madden approves Mildura planning amendment

THE FINAL report of the Mildura Planning Taskforce has been released. The report emphasises the importance of agriculture, particularly horticulture and the associated manufacturing, packaging and processing of local produce, to the Mildura economy.

The purpose of the taskforce was to "identify the longer term strategic future of land used for irrigated horticultural in the Rural City of Mildura, including the MOIA ([the Mildura Older Irrigation Area] the older pump districts of Mildura, Merbein and Red Cliffs) and the NIA ([New Irrigated Area] the private diverters in Nangiloc, Colignan, Lake Cullulleraine and Lindsay Point)."

The taskforce aimed to address land use issues relating to farming and rural land uses, urban settlement, social issues and economic issues.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Victoria's infrastructure needs improvement: Engineers Australia

THE ENGINEERS Australia 2010 Victorian Infrastructure Report Card was released on Wednesday, with the report indicating progress in some areas of Victoria's infrastructure over the past 5 years, but overall finds that the majority of infrastructure has not improved, or has gone backwards.

The 2010 report card reviewed infrastructure categories across energy, telecommunications, transport and water and assigned ratings within the scales of A – F (with A meaning very good and F inadequate).

Of the categories reviewed in the 2010 report, two get variations of a 'B' rating (good), 11 get variations of the 'C' rating (needing major changes), and 1 gets a 'D' (needing critical changes), said the report by Engineers Australia, which has 90,000 members and is a forum for the advancement of engineering.

'B' ratings were given to Airports (B) and Wastewater (B minus). The 'C' ratings cover Roads Overall (C plus), National Roads (C plus), State Roads (C plus) and Local Roads (C minus); Ports (C plus); Irrigation (C minus); Stormwater (C minus); Potable Water (C); Gas (C); Electricity (C minus) and Telecommunications (C). Rail was rated as a 'D'.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Planning Minister planned Windsor Hotel sham?

THE VICTORIAN Government has been embarrassed by the accidental email release of a secret strategy to the ABC, reportedly containing a document entitled 'Minister for Planning Justin Madden Media Plan'. The document, written by a member of Mr Madden's staff, includes a strategy for rejecting the planned redevelopment of Melbourne's heritage-listed Windsor Hotel.

The email states that the Windsor Advisory Committee is expected to recommend that the government approve the proposed $260 million Windows Hotel redevelopment. The email says that the strategy is "to release it [the committee's report] for public comment, as this affects the entire community, and then use those responses as reason to halt it, as we have listened to community views."

The sham consultation process has damaged the Planning Minister, with the Opposition demanding an inquiry on planning. It comes at a difficult time for the Minister. Last week, the Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution Bill was defeated by parliament, effectively rendering useless Melbourne's metropolitan plan, Melbourne @ 5 Million.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Road to Melbourne Airport to "grind to a halt"

"TRAFFIC could grind to a halt on the freeway to Melbourne Airport in the next two decades unless dramatic action is taken," according to a study commissioned by the Victorian government and reported by The Age yesterday.

However, Public Transport Minister Martin Pakula has said the government will not consider a rail line to the airport, originally promised by the Labor government in 1999.

According to The Age, the report, the Melbourne Airport Transport Requirements Study, was completed over the past nine months by consultants IMIS and predicts that traffic to the airport will "slow to a crawl by 2021 unless major changes are made."

  • Written by Urbanalyst

South Morang rail extension one step closer

THE SOUTH Morang Rail Extension moved ahead this week with Public Transport Minister Martin Pakula yesterday turning the first sod for the early works in the Epping rail corridor.

Construction of the second track between Keon Park and Epping is expected to begin later this year.

The South Morang Rail Extension involves the duplication of a single track between Keon Park and Epping and the construction of 3.5 kilometres of new double track from Epping to South Morang. The new South Morang station will have parking for 500 cars, taxi rank, safe drop off area and feature integration with local bus routes.

Originally forecast to cost over $562 million, Member for Thomastown Peter Batchelor MP said the cost of the extension is $650 million.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Vic Government refuses Port Fairy coastal development based on climate change impacts

A PROPOSED residential development on the Port Fairy coastline has been refused by the Victorian Government in order to protect Victoria's coastline and to prevent inappropriate development on land that is at risk from erosion and climate change impacts.

Planning Minister Justin Madden and Environment and Climate Change Minister Gavin Jennings last week announced the refusal to grant a planning permit for residential development at East Beach, Port Fairy, 300 kilometres west of Melbourne and located within Moyne Shire Council.

The Mayor of Moyne Shire, James Purcell, said the subject land had two issues. "One is that it backs onto an area which is the Moyne River, which could be subject to flooding, and also on the other side of it is actually the ocean which could be subject to inundation," Mr Purcell said.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Lend Lease to acquire Ch 9 Melbourne site for planned residential development

LEND Lease today has entered into a conditional agreement to purchase a three hectare parcel of land in Melbourne with plans for a $400 million residential development.

The site, currently occupied by GTV Channel 9 and located in Richmond, approximately three kilometres east of Melbourne's CBD, was purchased from General Television Corporation Pty Ltd. Channel 9 is scheduled to vacate the site within the next 12 months.

Lend Lease's apartment business, Vivas Lend Lease, is planning a masterplanned residential development on the site with an end value of approximately $400 million.

Lend Lease Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Mr Steve McCann, said the acquisition is in line with Lend Lease’s strategy of securing prime inner urban sites in the key growth markets of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Vic Government fast-tracks Aldi and Woolworths hardware stores

The Victorian Government has potentially allowed for a reported $191 million worth of retail expansion by fast-tracking new Aldi stores and Woolworths hardware stores in Victoria.

On Monday, Planning Minister Justin Madden announced that the planning assessment for five new Aldi stores and 12 Woolworths large format hardware stores across Victoria would be fast-tracked.

Woolworths entered the $24 billion hardware sector last year with the acquisition of Danks Holdings Limited, a joint venture with American home improvement retailer Lowe's, the second largest home improvement retailer worldwide and the 7th largest retailer in the U.S.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

GAIC defeated in Victorian parliament

The Planning and Environment Amendment (Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution) Bill was defeated in the Victorian Legislative Council yesterday, with 19 votes against and 18 for.

The defeat also means that Melbourne's Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) will not expand as proposed, as the Victorian government has consistently said that such an expansion will not proceed without support of the Growth Areas Infrastructure Contribution (GAIC).

Planning Minister Justin Madden's plea failed to win support and as expected, the GAIC was rejected by the upper house.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Melbourne City Council endorses Swanston Street plan

MELBOURNE City Council's Future Melbourne Committee this month endorsed the Swanston Street redevelopment design concept and approved the commencement of Stage One, which will see a new civic space incorporating a platform tram stop constructed in front of the State Library Victoria, between Little Lonsdale and La Trobe Streets.

A further report will be presented to Councillors prior to Stage Two work commencing in mid 2011. That report will respond to any further issues that impact on specific stakeholders including trams, delivery and service vehicles, taxis, buses, horse drawn vehicles, as well as retaining Swanston Street as a key parade street.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

Late-night entertainment plan to make Melbourne vibrant, safer

MELBOURNE City Council last week approved a funding boost to promote late-night entertainment in the city.

The Council is investing up to $117,000 to broaden the scope of late-night entertainment on offer in the city, which will enable major arts festivals to trial late-night programming that is hoped will broaden the number of arts events on offer and activate Melbourne into a vibrant 24-hour city.

Festivals to receive additional funding for late-night programming are the International Comedy Festival, International Jazz Festival, Next Wave Festival, Melbourne Fringe Festival and Melbourne International Film Festival.

  • Written by Urbanalyst

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