23 April 2024

Housing community association hails Mornington Peninsula's development contribution scheme proposal

| James Day
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An overhead shot of Brighton Beach in the Mornington Peninsula.

The development contribution scheme aims to help address the housing crisis on the Mornington Peninsula, which has a relatively small rental market heavily dominated by short-stay rental accommodation. Photo: @MornPenShire.

The Mornington Peninsula Shire Council has released an innovative housing plan to its community, which would require property developers to contribute to the building of hundreds of social housing dwellings.

The council of the shire (located on the eastern edge of Port Phillip Bay in Victoria) voted to consult with the community on a development contribution scheme.

The scheme would treat social housing as essential infrastructure and by using the funds gained from developers’ mandatory contributions, increase the stock of government subsidised and community rental housing on the peninsula.

Planning permit applicants would be expected to contribute 3.3 per cent of the market value of all developments that result in a net increase in the number of dwellings on the peninsula, or an increase in industrial or commercial floor space.

Community Housing Industry Association Victoria (CHIA Vic) hailed the local council’s move as a positive step forward in easing the region’s housing crisis.

Chief Executive Sarah Toohey said that across Victoria people were struggling to find a safe, affordable place to call home and needed more solutions like this one.

“There’s a desperate need for more social housing on the Mornington Peninsula,” said Ms Toohey. “More and more locals are getting priced out of the private rental market, with asking rents up 7 per cent on last year.

“The Mornington Peninsula community and Victorians at large must get behind this essential and game-changing strategy.

“Importantly, the State Government mustn’t get in the way – in fact it should be rolling out a policy like this statewide.”

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Ms Toohey added that while it was disappointing, CHIA Vic was not surprised to see scaremongering by the private developer lobby about the shire’s strategy – which she said had been recommended to the government multiple times before.

“If introduced, this scheme could actually drive down the price of developable land,” said Ms Toohey. “With enough lead time, property developers would easily be able to factor the contribution cost into the price they are willing to pay for land, and not pass anything on to home buyers.”

While social housing is largely the responsibility of the state and federal governments, the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council said it had seen next to nothing from existing programs – such as the Victorian Government’s Big Build.

According to the council, it’s now significantly more expensive to rent a home on the peninsula than in Melbourne, with a shortage of around 4716 social housing units across the shire.

It said if nothing was done to address this, the shortfall would grow to 8051 housing units by 2041.

The council claims its tourism and hospitality sectors are struggling to attract workers, and low-income residents are being forced out of the region. Twelve per cent of the shire’s homeless residents are on the street, making it the fourth highest rate for a local government area in Victoria.

Funds raised under the scheme would be directed towards social housing initiatives within the municipality. These would include developments of new social housing projects or support for existing housing programs delivered by state government or local registered housing providers.

The council claims between 600 and 1000 social housing dwellings could be delivered through the scheme – representing between 9 and 17 per cent of the total needed for the shire to the year 2041.

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In recent years the Victorian Government has changed policy such that local governments have a greater role to play in providing social housing.

The council said these reforms had strengthened the view this shortfall could best be addressed by action from all three tiers of government, in partnership with the private and community sectors.

Mornington Peninsula Shire Council Mayor Simon Brooks said the council expected the consultation to generate a lot of community interest, as there were costs and benefits that required debate.

“Already, we are hearing from our homeless service providers how this will help ease the housing and homelessness crisis,” said Mr Brooks. “There are understandably also concerns about the impact of the proposed scheme on future developments.

“All views will be carefully considered before any decision is made on whether to proceed.”

Once all feedback is in, the council will decide whether to send a proposal for the scheme to the Victorian Government.

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