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October 2018

Incentivising Social Housing, what are Victoria’s Options?

By: Sam Palma

Within recent years, the delivery and availability of social housing within Victoria has been an increasingly popular topic amongst State Government and industry stakeholders, as the trend in Melbourne’s property market demands further investigation into options to provide affordable and social housing to the marketplace.  The delivery of such housing products continues to be an on-going joust between both private and public parties in order to obtain ‘who should be responsible for supplying these products to the market?’.  

The public sector has recently committed to the ‘Public Housing Renewal Program’ which commits to the supply of 1,800 new dwellings. The Department of Health and Human Services has revealed these dwellings will be made available for social, private and affordable housing.  

Within the private sector, a concept that has gained traction and success overseas is the ‘build-to-rent’ system, an arrangement where apartment blocks are constructed and made available exclusively to the rental market. These apartments have the ability to be transferred to (or purchased by) housing authorities and leased below market value. This particular concept is currently being explored by Melbourne and Sydney developers, however at this stage requires further clarity towards government subsidies and tax system implications in order for this model to be deliverable to the market.

From a planning perspective, progression was achieved on 1 June 2018, as the Planning and Environment Act 1987 was amended to include the following definitions/changes:

  • Adding a new objective to the Act “to facilitate the provision of affordable housing in Victoria”.
  • Providing a definition of affordable housing – “affordable housing is housing, including social housing, that is appropriate for the housing needs of very low, low, and moderate-income households”.
  • Affirming the use of section 173 for voluntary affordable housing agreements “… a Responsible Authority may enter into an agreement with an owner of land for the development or provision of land in relation to affordable housing”.

Earlier this month, the State Government released the planning framework report for Fishermans Bend, which revealed height controls, dwelling density ratios, setback controls, amenity requirements etc. Of interest, was the implementation of ‘Social Housing uplift control’, allowing a density bonus to developers in exchange for the provision and supply of social housing. In the Fisherman’s Bend context, developers can apply for an additional eight private dwellings for every one social housing unit that is provied to a registered housing associated. Density bonuses have been used as a negotiating tool by local governments in recent years due to an absence of any defining policy outlining requirements to provide social housing.

Looking at this issue from a statutory planning perspective, how can provisions of a Planning Scheme facilitate a greater supply and delivery of social housing for both private and public sectors?

A method worth exploring is the removal of third-party appeal rights and public notice for social and affordable housing projects, essentially fast tracking the planning application through Council. In my opinion, I believe the waiver of third-party appeal rights and public notice for such housing products is warranted, not only from the perspective of reducing timeframes for assessment, but limiting the consideration to that of the Planning Scheme and reducing potential holding costs associated with land. The exemption for public notice would not be a foreign element to the Planning Scheme, as a number of Overlays (such as development plan overlay) and Particular Provisions exhibit similar waivers to advertising requirements. This would incentivise the supply for both the private and public sector and could sit within the Particular Provisions of Victorian Planning Schemes.

  • Do you think the removal of third-party appeal rights and public notice for social and affordable housing projects is warranted?
  • Will this result in an increase to the supply of social housing with Victoria?

planning, social housing, urban pl, urban planning, melbourne, planning scheme, affordability

September 2016

DLA Submission to the Draft ‘Better Apartments’ Guidelines

In the wake of Mark Sheppard’s recent post on the impact of the Victorian State Government’s recently released draft ‘Better Apartments’ design guidelines (and his recent successful industry presentation on behalf of VPELA on 7th September 2016, accessible here), DLA has provided a detailed submission to the design guidelines that acknowledges the need for the introduction of appropriate standards whilst recommending a number of amendments from a planning and design perspective.

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urban design, melbourne, urban planning, state planning, guidelines

December 2015

Recognised for our contribution to Launceston's future

David Lock Associates was part of the team awarded the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) state award (Tasmania) for 'Best Planning Ideas - Large Project.'

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planning, pia award, david lock associates, town planning, strategic planning, urban planning

August 2015

Finding inspiration
in masterplanning
for growth areas

Masterplanning in Growth Areas was the topic of conversation at David Lock Associates' offices in South Melbourne when one of our colleagues from the UK, Joanne Cave recently visited.

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urban planning, masterplanning, urban growth areas, united kingdom, urban design

February 2015

Great Places -
Planning on the big screen

As part of the lead-up to the National Congress in Melbourne, PIA has organised a series of think-tank sessions to promote Great Places which David Lock Associates is proud to be sponsoring.

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david lock associates, planning, urban, urban planning, social

May 2014


Senior Urban Designer Jessica Christiansen recently represented David Lock Associates at the Regional Conference and workshop on ‘Enabling GREEEN Cities: a Sustainable Urban Future for Southeast Asia’ in Manila hosted by the Asian Development Bank.

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urban design, manila, social, urban planning

December 2013

David Lock Associates Appoints New Associate Planner (Sydney)
and Senior Urban Designer (Melbourne)

David Lock Associates is pleased to announce the recent appointment of both Steve Guy as Associate Planner in their Sydney operations and Jessica Christiansen as Senior Urban Designer in their Melbourne operations.


Steve comes to David Lock Associates with a strong background in Statutory and Strategic Planning in the NSW planning system; and a wealth of experience in public and private sector land release planning, development, mediation and facilitation.


David Lock Associates CEO, David Klingberg said “ We are excited at the continued strength and success of David Lock Associates Sydney. Steve brings with him the necessary skills and experience to allow the business to develop and thrive within the NSW market and adapt to the ongoing changes in the NSW planning system.”

Jessica is a qualified Urban Designer and Landscape Architect with over ten years experience working within Australia, Asia, the United Kingdom and most recently Canada delivering a wide variety of urban projects in the public and private sector. Her passion and expertise lies in town centre design and management, public space activation, and community engagement.


Jessica brings a keen sense of design and strong lateral thinking skills to all her projects, delivering innovative and practical solutions for her clients.

planning, urban planning, sydney, landscape architecture, masterplanning

October 2013

New Residential Zones – A Comparison of Council Implementation

It’s been an action packed few months in planning, with several Councils releasing their implementation of the new zones, and the Metropolitan Strategy released earlier this month. 

Both of these initiatives will affect residential development in Victoria.

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planning, urban planning, infrastructure

November 2012

Young Professionals Shape Melbourne’s Future

An urban planner from DLA joined a select group of young professionals participating in the first of many roundtable workshops for Melbourne’s new strategic plan.  The workshop was held shortly after the Ministerial Advisory Committee released the discussion paper ‘Melbourne, Let’s Talk About the Future’.

Young professionals Norm (Greater Dandenong), Tamara (DLA, Unviersity of Melbourne), Mitra (SGS, Unviersity of Melbourne) and Andrew (Lateral Projects, Unviersity of Melbourne)


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visioning, urban planning

October 2012

Grattan Institute Report
on Flexible Suburbs

DLA staff attended a seminar facilitated by the Grattan Institute focusing on their most recent report ‘Tomorrow's Suburbs: Building Flexible Neighbourhoods'. The seminar provided an opportunity to hear from one of the authors, Jane-Frances Kelly as well as Andrew Whitson, General Manager – Residential Development Victoria of Stockland.

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urban design, social, planning, sustainable, density, urban planning

Reformed Zones for Victoria

David Lock Associates (DLA) has submitted a response to the proposed reformed zones for Victoria. As part of an ongoing review of the Victoria Planning system the Government is considering:

  • New and improved residential, commercial, industrial and rural zones
  • Rationalising and removing unnecessary zones
  • Associated processes that can support the new and improved zones

In general, the principle of the zone reform is welcomed. We do believe that the rationalising of zone structure will achieve greater clarity in the planning system.  However, DLA believe the proposed reform process should be undertaken in conjunction with the emerging Metropolitan Strategy. It is considered the directions outlined in the Metropolitan Strategy will assist in strategically justifying the application of the reformed zones.

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planning, density, urban planning, policy

September 2012

Exploring Urban Density: Maximising the Health Benefits and Minimising the Harm

The Heart Foundation presented an interactive seminar ‘Exploring Urban Density: Maximising the Health Benefit and Minimising the Harm’ on the 17th of August. The keynote speaker, Professor Billie Giles-Corti (University of Melbourne and University of Western Australia) discussed the link between the built environment and health. The evidence in support of density in terms of health benefits conveyed through walkability and access to amenities is increasing, however, Professor Giles-Corti asks what is ‘good’ density from a health perspective? What are the intended and unintended consequences of increased density? What types of amenities are associated with positive health in denser areas?

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healthy cities, urban planning, density, sustainable, urban design

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