Pragmatically themed and titled ‘Getting it Done’, Tract has put on its reading glasses to investigate what the Victorian Budget 2016/17 seeks to ‘get done’ for city building and regional development.
Set against a discourse of job creation and infrastructure building, big spends include infrastructure investments in the Metropolitan rail network and the Western Distributor Tunnel while smaller but vital reforms include shifting the planning system into the 21st Century through 'e-planning'.
As already widely reported, the budget predicts a surplus of $2.9 billion for the pending financial year. All things being equal, that surplus is forecast to reach $9.2 billion over the next four years.
Key points for the planning and property industry include:
The budget heralds a strong move towards public transport improvements, eradicating the infrastructure backlog in growth areas, and enhancing the appeal of regional Victoria as an alternative to Melbourne.
Whilst the move to an online planning system is welcome, it places innovative Councils who have invested in their own systems in a difficult position as they now potentially face redundant systems when the State portal is introduced. It also raises the prospect of far greater resident involvement – for better or worse – in both Council and VCAT processes. The transparency and efficiency benefits for all participants should be quickly evident however.
The key question arising from the budget will be its impact on international investment in the Victorian property market, a key driver of the planning and development industry in recent years. It remains to be seen whether the central city planning changes and proposed apartment design guidelines, together with increased land tax and stamp duty for foreign investors, will curtail foreign investment.
This piece was auhoed by Adam Terrill who is Senior Principal Town Planner for Tract Consultants, and a Ben Daly, also a Town Planner for the Melbourne-based planning & design practice.
Lead image source: ABC