A delayed housing project to create 4000 homes in Warrnambool will now be fast-tracked as part of a state government move to address Victoria's housing crisis.
The East of Aberline Road project, which had been put on the backburner in recent years by planning authorities, has now been singled out by the government
Developers have been crying out for the planning to be fast-tracked but in recent years it has been overlooked while other projects have been prioritised ahead of it.
How much the fast-tracking would bring forward the process is yet to be revealed.
The project was first mooted in 2019 when the government chipped in $200,000 to help get the project off the ground before being hit with delays during the pandemic.
The precinct covers about 360 hectares of mostly farm land bordered by Wangoom, Dales, Aberline and Horne roads and includes plans to make the area environmentally friendly and gas-free.
A 40-hectare parcel of land in the precinct was put on the market in 2022 with a $20 million price tag.
Western Victoria MP Jacinta Ermacora said the government's new housing plan had a number of benefits for south-west Victoria including less red tape for planning.
"They're going to do some fast-tracking council planning in regional Victoria including East of Aberline," Ms Ermacora said
"That is in the list of regional locations to be fast-tracked."
The news was welcomed by Warrnambool developer Bill Welsh. "As soon as they approve it, we'll build on it," he said.
"I think it's fantastic news if they can have it ready to go so we don't get caught out like last time with no development-ready land."
But Mr Welsh said he had some concerns about how the government planned to deliver its social housing without accelerating and overheating the market like the first homebuyers grant did during the pandemic.
"It needs to be slow and steady not like an abracadabra wand," he said, saying many builders had struggled to make any money over the past couple of years.
Mr Welsh said he was also concerned the land would be subject to the state government's new windfall tax which came into effect on July 1.
Ms Ermacora said the government's housing plan would support councils to clear the backlog in planning.
"$15m projects or above can be fast-tracked through this new fast-tracking mechanism subject to the inclusion of 10 per cent of affordable housing," she said.
"That affordable housing can be from a menu of affordable housing options so it could be in the form of a cash payment to the state government for Homes Victoria to do that themselves or them to have 10 per cent of their properties built to rent or selling them to a cooperative."
Granny flats less than 60 square metres will no longer require a planning permit under some of the planning changes - something Ms Ermacora said would make it easier and more affordable to get into a home.
"Warrnambool loves granny flats. I think this a real positive," she said.
"I think our community will really latch on to that."
Ms Ermacora said the government was also making it illegal for a landlord to give notice and then advertise the property for rent at a higher price.
"So there's no benefit to evict people to increase your rent," she said.
And the notice period for tenants is being lifted from 60 days to 90 days.
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