What is the latest news?

Council has decided to proceed with leasing the land at 52-60 Townhall Avenue, Preston, for the purpose of affordable housing.

Officers assessed the issues that were raised in the submissions and provided advice to Council the report is available here. For some issues, officers recommended that action be taken to address them (e.g. car parking). For others, officers’ view is that they are unlikely to occur in practice. For example, there is little evidence to suggest that affordable housing developments impact upon property values or rates of crime.

This follows extensive community consultation and consideration of all submissions received.


Why is Council doing this?

Access to affordable and secure housing a critical to the wellbeing of individuals and communities. Growing numbers of people are being priced out of Darebin: purchase and rental prices are increasing, and there is increasing pressure on existing affordable housing stock.

A recent report identified that there are approximately 80,000 people, including more than 20,000 children, on the waiting list for public and community housing in Victoria. There is a severe undersupply of affordable housing in our city.

Council wants to address this, and to make sure that Darebin is an inclusive, vibrant, affordable and diverse place. We want people of all incomes and backgrounds to be able to afford to live in our municipality. This proposal is part of Council’s work to increase the supply of affordable housing, and to make sure our community remains inclusive.

Council has identified the use of its own land for the purpose of affordable housing in numerous policies and strategies, including the Darebin Housing Strategy and Responding to Housing Stress: A Local Action Plan 2013-2017, and the Council Plan 2017-2021.

What are the next steps?

We will now run a process to select an organisation to develop the site for affordable housing. This will be a registered housing association or another charitable organisation that can deliver affordable housing on the site.

The outcomes of this process will be presented to Council for consideration.


What is affordable housing?

The term affordable housing can be used in many different ways. For this project, we are using the definition established in the Planning and Environment Act 1987, which is housing that is appropriate for people on very low, low and moderate incomes (this includes incomes up to $60,510 for single adults and $127,080 for families – income levels are derived from Census data and are adjusted annually).

There are different types of affordable housing. Some is owned and managed by the State Government (public housing), some is owned and/or managed by community housing organisations (community housing). Affordable housing also includes below-market rental units (e.g. through the National Rental Affordability Scheme) or below-market homes for purchase (e.g. ‘shared equity’ schemes through the Victorian Government).

How many submissions did Council receive?

We sent 3,584 letters to residents living within a 500 metre radius of the site, and publicised the proposal on our web site and social media pages. We received 309 submissions during the consultation process. You can read a report on the consultation outcomes here.

An analysis and assessment of the issues that were raised in the submissions was undertaken, and this is documented in the Council report, available here. For some issues, Council has committed to taking action be taken to address them (e.g. car parking). For others, analysis and investigation has shown that they are unlikely to occur in practice. For example, there is little evidence to suggest that affordable housing developments impact upon property values or rates of crime.

Officers assessed the issues that were raised in the submissions and provided advice to Council - the report is available here. For some issues, officers recommended that action be taken to address them (e.g. car parking). For others, officers’ view is that they are unlikely to occur in practice. For example, there is little evidence to suggest that affordable housing developments impact upon property values or rates of crime.


What were the issues raised in submissions?

You can read a report on the consultation outcomes here  and responses to the common issues raised in submissions here.

Common themes in submissions included support for affordable housing, concern regarding car parking availability in the area, the size and design of any future building, a perception that the proposal could impact negatively on property values and crime rates, and the use of the site for affordable housing. Council considered all submissions in making its decision.

An analysis and assessment of the issues that were raised in the submissions was undertaken, and this is documented in the Council report, available here. For some issues, Council has committed to taking action be taken to address them (e.g. car parking). For others, analysis and investigation has shown that they are unlikely to occur in practice. For example, there is little evidence to suggest that affordable housing developments impact upon property values or rates of crime.


Why did Council decide to proceed?

In deciding whether to proceed, Council considered the overall benefit of the proposal against the impact that it would create. Having done this, Council considered that, on balance, the benefit of leasing the site was greater than its impact, and that it should proceed.

Council considered all submissions in making its decision, and the issues raised in submissions will be addressed, where there is evidence to support them.

The most common issues raised in submissions that were not supportive of the proposal were car parking, a perception that the proposal could impact on property values and rates of crime, and suggesting an alternative use for the site.

In relation to car parking, Council is taking action to investigate and better manage car parking in the precinct. Please refer to the FAQ titled “What is Council doing about car parking?” below.

In relation to the impact the proposal could have on property values and rates of crime, Council has undertaken research and has not been able to find evidence to support these concerns. Therefore, no action is being taken. You can read more about this issue in the Council report.

Why was this site selected?

This site, and two others, were identified by Council as suitable locations for affordable housing in 2016. This site was selected because of its location, zoning, size and current use. It is well-located and provides easy access to Preston Central and public transport services

Where can I see Council’s response to my submission?

Council has provided a response to each submission, which you can read here.

For privacy reasons, names and identifying information has been removed from this table. If you are struggling to find your submission, please contact Council officers on 8470 8768 and we can assist.


What is Council doing about car parking?

We understand that there is a lot of pressure for car parking in this area, and have commenced work to investigate this and see what we can do to better manage car parking.

Any development of the site would need to retain public car parking. Any car parking requirements for future residents would be assessed at the planning permit application stage.

In addition, Council committed to the following in making its decision about the lease:

  • Ensuring that car parking demand for the precinct is investigated and parking management measures are introduced, as appropriate, before any future construction commences.

A critical element of the proposal is to retain public car parking at the site. Council has committed to doing this.

The work we have already started includes:

  • Monitoring and recording parking availability (and lack of availability) for on-street and off-street car parking throughout high-demand areas of the city, including the Preston precinct. Data for this precinct will be collected before the end of 2018.
  • Development of a Parking Strategy, which will establish guidance for management of car parking throughout the municipality, including in areas surrounding activity centres. The Parking Strategy will be informed by the occupancy data, best practice and extensive community engagement
  • Review of residential parking permit policy.

Measures that may be included in future parking management for the precinct may include:

  • Shorter restrictions (1hr or less) should be used for core shopping areas, with longer restrictions (2-3hrs) in surrounding streets. Shorter restrictions create more parking turnover, resulting in greater parking availability for those wanting to access shops and services. Those spending longer in the area will need to park further away if choosing to bring their car.
  • Parking spaces within at least a five minute walk from the core shopping area should have time-based parking restrictions, to best use our valuable community resource. 
  • Local community access, the viability of local businesses, and amenity for local residents need to be balanced when managing parking.

If it proceeds, how big would the affordable housing development be?

Development on the site is controlled by the Darebin Planning Scheme (the Scheme). The Scheme establishes a preferred height limit of five storeys, and requires development to step down to neighbouring residential properties.

If Council decides to proceed and is able to identify a tenant for the site, that tenant would need to apply for a planning permit to develop the site. They would need to demonstrate how the development meets the requirements of the Scheme. Surrounding property owners would be notified as part of the planning permit application process.


When can I be involved again?

The next opportunity to be involved will be when (and if) a planning permit application is lodged for the proposed development. Immediately adjoining neighbours will be given notice of the proposal, and have the opportunity to make submissions to Council.

The current zoning of the site means that third parties do not have the right to appeal Council’s decision on the planning permit application (if the proposal is ‘generally in accordance’ with the planning controls). However, Council must consider any submissions it receives in making its decision. The permit applicant can still appeal Council’s decision.


What else is happening in the Preston area?

We’ve been working with the community to develop a vision for Preston. We have had a lot of feedback on this, and will be reporting back to the community with the findings in late 2018. You can find more information about this project at https://www.yoursaydarebin.com.au/futurepreston