By Jordyn Grubisic
BOTH the Wallan South Precinct Structure Plan, PSP, and the Wallan East Part 1 PSP have been paused, halting the development of housing infrastructure in the Mitchell Shire.
Following May’s State Budget, the Victorian Planning Authority, VPA, reviewed its work program in July, and reprioritised the timing of several PSPs across Victoria.
The pause follows the 2020 announcement of fast-tracking the Wallan and Beveridge North West PSPs with greater resources and prioritisation expected to save between six and 12 months from the standard processes.
The VPA has paused the Wallan South PSP to allow for ‘a more aligned approach’ with a Ministerial Advisory Committee report on the Beveridge North West PSP, and a resolution of broader northern corridor matters.
The VPA is reviewing the Beveridge North West PSP following the committee’s recommendations, which will feed into Minister for Planning Sonny Kilkenny’s decision on the PSP and quarry planning permit application.
VPA chief executive officer Stuart Moseley said after the Beveridge North West PSP was gazetted, the VPA expected to commence preparing the Wallan South plan.
“There are a number of projects that are subject to technical issues that require resolution outside the VPA, present policy issues that are matters for government to decide on, or are impacted by our need to reprioritise our resources,” he said.
The Wallan South PSP is expected to home to about 21,700 residents in 7000 dwellings and provide about 4000 new jobs.
A representative for Crystal Group, the developers of St Hilaire in Wallan South PSP, said it was imperative to the existing community that the Wallan South PSP planning be finalised and delivered.
“Without further lots being rezoned in the next 12 months, the land supply in Wallan will cease within two years,” the spokesperson said.
“With the current housing crisis continuing to escalate, it is important the State Government doesn’t overlook PSPs such as Wallan South that about existing towns in favour of greenfield developments.
“If the town endures long periods of no land supply it will inflate current house prices and put affordable housing at risk. This will also delay large format retailers coming to Wallan, as well as schools, both private and public.
“While we are disheartened the PSP has been put on hold, we will continue to work closely with the VPA, Mitchell Shire Council and the relevant State Government agencies to ensure we deliver our sustainable, innovative, masterplanned community St Hilaire.”
The separate Wallan East development expects to create 1100 lots, 150 jobs and has a $154 million project value.
It is paused due to technical issues outside of VPA control and the need for alignment across government.
The VPA will undertake work in coming months to address project -specific broader north corridor matters, including freight rail transport, land allocation for transport infrastructure and determining best land use for the PSP.
The VPA will work with Mitchell Shire Council to progress planning for the Wallan East PSP by continuing to complete technical reports, and meet with Melbourne Water and the Department of Transport and Planning to resolve issues.
A Mitchell Shire Council representative said council would continue to advocate for communities, services and infrastructure required as they grow and develop, irrespective of the State Government’s approach to growth area planning.
“There are transport challenges in Melbourne’s outer north, which need to be addressed at both the local and state level,” the spokesperson said.
“Council will continue to plan and look at opportunities to ensure our newest communities are connected. This involves working in partnership with the State Government.
“Transport infrastructure is expensive but it is essential for growing communities. We believe all options for funding and delivery of key infrastructure projects must be explored to facilitate improved accessibility for our communities.
“The early delivery of infrastructure to support growth area communities is essential.”
The Urban Development Institute of Australia, UDIA, supports the State Government’s desire to increase the supply of diverse housing stock in Melbourne’s established areas, however it is disappointed by the pause of the two Wallan PSPs.
“We are concerned that the State Government appears to want to suspend housing supply in the growth areas,” a UDIA spokesperson said.
“We support the government’s desire to increase development in the middle and inner suburbs, but that won’t happen overnight.
“We need to see an increase in total housing supply. That means more housing in the growth areas and the established suburbs, but especially where Victorians want to live.
“If we don’t improve supply across all sections of the market, we will most definitely see a worsening of housing affordability.”
- The Crystal Group is owned by Wally Mott, who also owns the Review.